Running your fingers over the Milwaukee Art Museum's Monet painting is not a good idea, nor is slapping the back of one of the lovers in Rodin's sculpture of "The Kiss." In fact, 99 percent of the time, touching art in a gallery is a big fat no-no, and because of this fact, Art Bar owner Don Krause decided to curate a show called "Feel Me: Please, touch the art."
"Feel Me" features the work of five artists, all of whom create work that is meant to be touched. Krause created a blithesome school of fish, made from textured craft supplies and everyday objects, including sandpaper, fake turf, mini pompons, gardening gloves, feathers, a mattress pad, duct tape and dish brushes.
Adults and kids are encouraged to poke, squeeze, stroke, caress or grope the dozen or so animated creations.
"I wanted people to experience art from a blind perspective," says Krause, who invited groups of blind children from the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired to attend the show. Also, he placed a bag of blindfolds next to his fish so sightseeing people could enjoy the work sans vision.
Krause's finned creations are for sale, reasonably priced at $15-$65, but he hesitates to sell them off before the show closes since they'll be sold in "as is" condition after scads of people have touched and prodded the pieces.
Krause admits finding artists for the show wasn't easy. Understandably, most were concerned about dirt and oil from peoples' fingers ruining their work. However, David Klein, an artist from Campbellsport, offered up his three-dimensional paintings/sculptures of unconventional faces, and Jamie Landolt's geometric abstracts are free for the feelin' up as well.
"I want to encourage everyone to touch my work, to feel each brushstroke and encounter the dimensional shapes that the canvas encompasses," says Landolt.
Kids -- and playful and/or buzzed adults -- will appreciate other aspects of the show, including Etch-A-Sketch toys atop tabletops, a few which feature stellar designs that deserve to stay unshaken, and an interactive magnetic wall covered in large-sized magnets made from cut-up water "noodles," balls and sponges.
The exhibit also includes a tactile experience for the feet, allowing gallery goers to walk barefoot through a series of feel-good materials. (Sand? Dry beans? Jell-o?)
"We're almost a week into the show, and so far so good," says Krause. "All of the fish still have their eyeballs."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.