When some of us were kids we joined the KISS Army and lots of teens forego college to enlist in the U.S. Army. Now, some local artists are organizing the MARNarmy. So, don't be scared if you see the green-shirted, beret-wearing art troopers tomorrow at some Gallery Night sites. It's not the French Foreign Legion; it's a group of committed Milwaukeeans hoping to share their love of art.
"Gallery Night is the biggest party in the city other than Summerfest, but people need to know it's about more than free Merlot and Brie on fancy crackers," MARN President Michael Brenner quips. "Art is fun. Art is cool. The MARNarmy has been developed to add an educational aspect to Gallery Night."
This Friday's Gallery Night will be something of a test run for the MARNarmy, Brenner says. The volunteers will be at MIAD, Hide House in Bay View, the Kunzelmann-Esser Building at 7th & Mitchell Streets and, hopefully, at Tory Folliard Gallery and Gallery 326. The volunteers will be on hand to explain art concepts and answer questions.
Brenner has also invited YPM (Young Professionals of Milwaukee) to participate by sending their members to the five target galleries.
According to Brenner, MARN -- Milwaukee Artists' Resource Network -- hopes to expand the program, using the Downtown Ambassadors program as an example. Of course, as is always the case for arts programs, funding is the key.
Brenner is enthused about the project and is finding that other area artists are, too.
"It should be very cool," he says. "People seem really excited about it so far. MARN's goal is to make the arts accessible to everyone by providing the community with a group of people that are informed and approachable. Ask these guys questions. That's what they're there for. It's a free art history lesson."
You can get more info or find out how to enlist for future Gallery Nights at www.MARNonline.com/MARNarmy or by calling (414) 736-4079.
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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.