When the Cedar Block production company teamed up with the Milwaukee Art Museum to collaborate on an event to coincide with the current "Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s" exhibition, naming it, naturally, was the easy part.
But the cleverly titled "Three Degrees of Francis Bacon" was just a starting point for Cedar Block director Brent Gohde. Working backwards, his ultimate goal -- the third degree of Francis Bacon -- is to engage MAM's guests in interactive ways while paying additional tribute to the artist.
To do so, he's asked several regional artists to create pieces that relate to Bacon's work -- the second degree of Francis Bacon -- which will then be on display alongside Bacon's originals.
And taking inspiration from the prolific painter, who himself found inspiration from his environment -- the unorganized chaos he often thrived in creatively -- Gohde knew that the first degree of Francis Bacon had to be you.
Bacon is quoted as saying, "I don't think people are born artists; I think it comes from a mixture of your surroundings, the people you meet, and luck." He was known to collect piles of magazines, newspaper clippings, books, photographs and everyday junk as source material for the images in his intense and intimate paintings.
"A lot of his work in the 1950s was in response to war torn Europe and rebuilding it," says Gohde. "When you look at what he was working with and what he was responding to, it's not all that dissimilar to what's going on in the world today. War, pop culture icons, paying tribute to the masters. When you look around the world today, you're going to see a lot of the same things that Bacon was responding to, so I wanted to make that connection."
To be the first degree of Francis Bacon, Gohde needs you to make that connection.
"This is a way to pay tribute to an artist and reveal a side of them that maybe not everyone knows about," says Gohde. "With Bacon, one of the things that is kind of endearing in a way is the fact that this studio was an epic mess. It was this tornavalanche of art work and records and pictures and notebooks and poems, everything."
Examine the millions of random things that make up your daily life and if anything -- jpegs, mp3s, links, articles, book reviews, a drawing -- reminds you of the way Bacon drew from reality, e-mail it to email@example.com by Feb. 28.
Cedar Block will then submit your contributions to its panel of artists -- Luke Chappelle, Dwellephant, Bridget Griffith Evans, Gene Evans and Faythe Levine to name just a few -- for creative interpretation.
During "Three Degrees of Francis Bacon" on Friday, March 23, the third degree will be complete as guests can see how their submissions influenced what the public sees when touring the Francis Bacon exhibit.
If you don't get your e-mail submission in on time, bring it with you on March 23 to be added by local artist Dwellephant's on-site interactive project.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”