The Ski Club creates space for national art
The Ski Club, 3172 N. Bremen St., is a new Riverwest art gallery owned by husband and wife Mark Klassen and Kathleen Kennedy-Klassen.
"The Ski Club will exhibit nationally known contemporary artists," says Klassen. "It's our hope to show artists that have little or no exhibition record in Milwaukee."
"The Ski Club provides the opportunity for Milwaukeeans to see artists that they may not have seen before. We hope this will expand the dialogue, exposure and connections within the arts community."
The Ski Club hosts an opening reception for its first exhibit on Friday, April 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. The gallery is also open by appointment.
The first show will feature Los Angeles-based artist Lisa Anne Auerbach, who will exhibit the "American Megazine," a five-foot-tall magazine with human page turners to assist people to read it.
The first edition of the "American Megazine" will appear at the Ski Club. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York has the second edition on display.
"It's exciting for me to think the 'American Megazine' is on display at the Whitney Museum of Art and at The Ski Club in Milwaukee," says Klassen.
The Ski Club is located in a storefront – formerly a butcher shop – the couple owns.
"We are very fortunate to own the building so we don't have to worry about overhead," says Klassen. "Consequently, we have no commercial pursuits with the gallery so this gives a great deal of freedom to take risks and show work that might not be commercially viable."
The couple is funding the project completely out of pocket.
As artists for many years, Klassen and Kennedy-Klassen have developed many connections with other artists whom they respect and admire. Additionally, they've developed many opinions about the art world.
"Because of this, it seems natural to want to make the jump from artists to gallery owners," says Klassen. "Running The Ski Club we can work with artists that we think are interesting and we think could connect with Milwaukee. Our ultimate goal is to have the whole endeavor be beneficial to everyone – the artists, the community and us."
Klassen has worked as an associate professor of art at Beloit College for 14 years. Prior to that, he taught at MIAD. Kennedy-Klassen also manages rental apartments and is a certified realtor.
In a hyper-localized world, Klassen sees reaching out on the national level more necessary and beneficial than ever.
"For the art scene to be healthy in Milwaukee it has to be diverse and thriving at all levels," says Klassen. "This would encompass a range of venues from small independent galleries, established commercial galleries to large public institutions."
"It feels like the Milwaukee Art Museum has chosen to make a vast and very general public as their primary audience. Thankfully, the Haggerty Museum, INOVA and the Portrait Society have stepped in with vibrant programming that connects to the Milwaukee community in a meaningful way."
Klassen also appreciates the contributions of Tory Folliard and Dean Jensen, The Green Gallery and The Pitch Project, which will open later this year.
"It's a really exciting time because Milwaukee has well-established galleries and institutions at all levels," says Klassen.
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