There's an art explosion on the Marquette campus where the Haggerty Museum of Art recently opened four exhibitions that all run through May 19.
The largest of the shows is "Dark Blue: The Water As Protagonist," a large photography exhibition that should be complemented nicely by Milwaukee Art Museum's upcoming "Color Rush," which opens in late February.
In a small gallery hangs "Perimeter," a project by Milwaukee photographer Kevin Miyazaki, commissioned by the Haggerty, that itself is a nice complement to "Dark Blue," given its combination of lake-scapes and portraits of folks who live around Lake Michigan.
"Images of the Virgin Mary" collects a range of international works – paintings, sculpture, works on paper – dating from the late 14th century through the mid-20th century that illustrate the five major events in The Annunciation.
"Read Between the Lines: Enrique Chagoya's Codex Prints" focuses on editioned, accordion-folded artist books and Chagoya's preparatory drawings and trial proofs. According to the Haggerty's materials, "the exhibition seeks to reveal how and why the codex format, made of amate, or bark, paper and read from right to left based on ancient Aztec, Mayan and Mixtec precedents, is a particularly successful artistic device for Enrique Chagoya."
Haggerty Associate Curator Emilia Layden, says she's particularly excited by the Chagoya show.
"The artist combines diverse images and cultural references to create intricate, challenging and richly layered objects that defy conclusive interpretation," Layden told me recently.
"The artist will actually be here on Jan. 30 to deliver a lecture followed by a reception in the museum."
On the other hand, on a recent visit, I most enjoyed Miyazaki's "Perimeter," which is in a small gallery just inside the entrance. Don't blink when you enter the museum or you might miss the gallery entirely.
But find it, step inside and you're enveloped in Lake Michigan. On the left is a wall-sized photomontage of images of the lake shot by Miyazaki during a two-week, 1,800-mile drive around the perimeter of Lake Michigan.
Here we see the lake in its myriad personalities, from stormy and gray to glisteningly gorgeous.
Directly across, perhaps eight feet away on the facing wall, is an equally large montage of portraits that Miyazaki took during the same journey, when he traveled with a mini studio that he set up everywhere, from backyards to docks to beaches.
Miyazaki tried to stick as close to shore as possible during his journey, but like the lake itself, the shore doesn't always give up its secrets. He found many tracts of shoreline were privately owned and inaccessible.
The portraits show the diverse people that live "within eyeshot" of the lake and their faces mirror the many moods of the inland sea they see every day.
As someone who is fortunate enough to see a small segment of Lake Michigan every day – when it's icy, when it's calm, when it's rocking with waves, when it shimmers in the afternoon sun, when it glows orange at dawn – I see a bit of myself in the images of this familiar, gently undulating friend and the portraits of folks who, like me, draw a mysterious energy from it.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.