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Var Gallery presents: Fragmented Home & Place: New Work by David Najib Kasir and Fahimeh Vahdat.

"My series of paintings reflect the turmoil of a country was once the beauty of the Middle East, and is now in a destructive transition. As an Arab artist, who is son to a mother whose birthplace is not in the state she left it in. I think daily of my family, former neighbors and friends as well as others that still reside in Syria as well as those that are now refugees. The houses and building I have lived in or stayed at in my childhood for years and months at a time, are now reduced to rubble. People are not fully aware of what has been happening in Syria for the past six years. And as an artist, I felt I must work on changing that. Homes and families have always been themes in my work, and in this series those themes continue. My work depicts images of Arab men, women and children who now live in or are fleeing these neighborhoods of destruction. These paintings depict the horror of war and the desperation to keep their families safe and intact. Each desperate image is surrounded by beautiful and intricate Arab mosaics that the Syrian culture is known for and it can be found on their furniture, buildings, precious boxes and instruments. I use the dichotomy between the two to change the perceptions of a people & their culture that have lost everything and is now drowning in rubble, blood and weary legs."

David Najib Kasir

"I believe art is a catalyst for change. I view contemporary art as an influential agent on culture and society. I consider my role as an activist artist a privilege and responsibility, allowing me to bring awareness of these ongoing atrocities to a wider audience. I see my work as a voice that allows me to make the intimately personal experiences of people universally accessible.

As a US citizen and Iranian-born Baha’i artist living in exile since the aftermath of 1979 Revolution, I chose to focus on human rights abuses, particularly violations against women and children in the Middle East. While I use a variety of materials and processes for each project, the focus of my work remains consistent. My work takes the format of painting, drawing, prints, and performance, as well as interactive installations. Projects often consist of multiple works, in a range of media, grouped around specific theme and concept. I often use painting and printmaking media to achieve non-traditional effects. In my work I seek to create a more fluid boundary between art and life to perhaps influence cultural and personal transformation. Investigating the facts, I question the atrocities inflicted on human beings through ignorance and the misuse of power. Still, I insist at all times on hopeful outcomes and the buoyancy of the human spirit under even the worst conditions. I dedicate my art to the people of Syria and Iran for their resiliency and unmatched courage in their ongoing struggle for freedom and basic human rights."

Fahimeh Vahdat

Fragmented Home & Place

July 7 - July 29
At Var Gallery on 2nd

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The Navigators

Oct 6 - Oct 28
At Var Gallery on 2nd

What does it mean to be a navigator? First, we must ask, is it possible to lead from within the crowd, or to direct the course of a journey when someone else’s hands are at the wheel? If the answer is yes, then to be a good navigator, we need to understand that at all times, we deal with circumstances greater than our control and make decisions with less information than we would like. Yet we still must choose a direction to go and find ways to communicate what we know to others in order for them to listen and follow.

The Navigators features artists, Jenie Gao, Jaymee Harvey Willms, and Emily Arthur. Their works of art act as tools and guides to navigate our own questions and understanding of identity, culture, and place. Like any other tool or device, art expands upon existing knowledge and abilities. Art has the power to connect different ideas in the same way that maps connect different destinations. So if a journey is the process of arriving at a destination, then creativity is the process of connecting information. A map enables us to explore different routes. Similarly, an artwork enables us to see different possibilities.

Jenie Gao’s work is like a modern day Aesop, telling stories of human dilemmas and moral qualms. Her drawings and prints feature characters like hybrid “gundogs” with guns for heads and angels and harpies that are virtually indistinguishable from each other aside from their names. Gao’s work emphasizes exactness, detail, and high contrast. The world is depicted as black and white, then selectively colored. Something about the permanence of ink feels decisive and immutable, though the ink is fluid and the images morphing and merging.

Emily Arthur’s prints of native plants and animals become a metaphor for displaced people, a repeating pattern of subjugation to current systems of power. The same systems that treat nature as a decorative backdrop to human activity will also treat people as “less than.” Arthur’s printmaking and research processes are methodical and layered. She studies policies that have forced people out of their homes and animals out of their habitats. She uses her findings to reveal the interdependence between humanity and nature, to connect environment with experience of home.

Jaymee Harvey Willms creates sculptures and paintings that combine familiar imagery, personal narrative, and everyday objects. Animals and dollhouse furniture are manipulated into the same form, blending and interrupting one another’s identities. The work is a satire that exposes cultural assumptions about gender, sexuality, and power. The creative process itself is aggressive. Harvey Willms uses techniques such as burning and tearing to achieve a desired effect, whether that be confusion around identity or a deeper understanding of how complicated our identities truly are.

Each artist’s work reveals a strong relationship between process and purpose, the tool and the individual who uses it. Using a map is not a mindless process, but a constant negotiation between what we need to help us find our way and what we want to believe the world looks like. Similarly, art offers its viewers insight into an artist’s mind and to the subject at hand. It is still up to us, the viewers, to decide what to do with that insight.

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Manicured Nature

Sept 1 - Sept 30
At Var Gallery on 2nd

Manicured Nature is a group exhibition curated by Brandon and Angela Minga at Var Gallery. Manicured Nature is a commentary on humanity's extraordinary power to shape our environments -- controlling nature, but never completely. The artwork selected reflects on the symbiotic relationship between mankind and the natural world.

Artists selected: Art Below Zero, Dan Atkinson, Kelly Cassel, Rory Coyne, Andrea Guzzetta, Jimbot, Vesna Jovanovic, Lauren, Levato Coyne, Shane McAdams, Jesse Meyer, Angela Minga, Brandon Minga, Neonlumberjack, Stef Schwartz, Jeremy, Shamrowicz, LaNia Sproles, Adam Stoner, Ben A Tyjeski


Friday August 4th at 5PM, with a total of over 60 professional artists between them, three incredible Milwaukee artist collectives will join together to showcase their outstanding residents. This is a juried exhibition that unites these collectives in one gallery to celebrate artistic excellence, Milwaukee’s growing art community and our wiliness to work together with the goal of strengthening it.

Material Gallery
Material Studios + Gallery is a space for artists to create, produce and develop their entrepreneurial practice. It’s a platform for the community to learn about art through personal experiences that delve into the artist process, studio and practice. With over 6,900 square feet of studio and gallery space, we foster a collaborative community where innovative ideas and processes can be explored and developed. Material also houses arts organizations and services that fuel the health and well being of the local economy.

RedLine Gallery
RedLine Milwaukee, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is an urban laboratory that seeks to nourish the individual practice of contemporary art and to stimulate the creative potential of the local community to which we are linked. Through residency, education, outreach and challenging exhibition programs with a focus on social justice, RedLine inspires and impacts new generations of cultural and civic transformers. The three-story, 22,000-square-foot building includes a beautiful exhibition space, artist studios, a community printshop, dye lab and paper-making studio. Milwaukee’s premier AiR program, RedLine houses twelve AiRs, eight community studios residents, six teen residents and several visiting artists annually. Additionally, RedLine connects artists with community organizations through workshops, classes, and outreach.

Var Gallery’s primary focus is to support emerging, and established artists of all mediums. Var currently has 27 artists in residence all ranging vastly in methods and experience. Var’s studios range from open open concept to private along with various workshops including ceramics, metal, and wood working. The gallery exhibits two and three dimensional work on monthly basis. Each exhibition is carefully considered by the quality of works, statement of intent, and overall cohesion with the years programing. In addition to the proposed, the gallery also has annual exhibitions including their Emerging Artist, Figure, 30x30x30, and Collective Exhibitions. In addition to the exhibitions, the gallery also hosts a variety of others events including their monthly Drink & Draw Figure Drawing sessions, and Critique sessions.

Redline, Material, & Var Gallery

Aug 1 - Aug 29
At Var Gallery on 2nd


In attendance: Filmmaker, Author, & Afrofuturist Ytasha Womack+ Filmmakers Anwar Floyd Pruitt +Vonnie Quest+ V.Juniel+ Micah Martin +Gabrielle Tesfaye, and spoken word artist Lilo Allen + Jerimiah Johnson.

Admission: FREE! Donations are welcomed.

LETTERS TO THE FUTURE delves into the topic of LOVE and all of it complexities told through a series of short experimental films spoken word performances.

Curated by AFRO+PROJECTION & artist/filmmaker VONNIE QUEST.

A footnote discussion will be given by artist/filmmaker Ytasha Womack on the aesthetics+ relevance of AFROFUTURISM, following two spoken word performances by artist Jerimiah Johnson+ Lilo Allen. After film screenings there will be a short Q&A.

Films to Screen

"Memories of Love & Loss" (02:06) - Anwar Floyd-Pruitt

This film is a meditation on my tender and tumultous five year marriage to a German fashion designer in New York City during the late 2000s. Intimate layers of video and performance flow with a soft score by MC Mikal to an ethereal effect.

"Every Black Boy Wants To Be Loved" (04:59) - Micah Martin

My recent short is a dreamlike film that consist of a young African American male and his struggles with the stains life has left on him. Whether it be love, childlike behavior, or injustice, he is faced with the reality of accepting the biggest stain of all.

"A Love Letter To The Ancestors from Chicago" (13:38)- Ytasha Womack

A love letter to the ancestors from the streets of the Windy City, this Afrofuturist short film demonstrates that rhythm and dance bridge all times and spaces. Starring the talented cast of Bar Star City, "A Love Letter" is a serenade to the future past through the greatest technology of them all: the human body. This film is directed by Ytasha L. Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture.

"Shook" (09:34) - V. Juniel

She lost her voice years ago from the pain and the harsh reality that her life had turned into, though her song lingered on in the shadows of her sobriety. This woman is NAMELESS.

“…I used live in the world
really be in the world
Free & sweet talkin
good morning & thank you & nice day
uh huh
I can't now
I can’t be nice to nobody”

"When the Sun and the Moon Fell In Love" (01:59) - Gabrielle Tesfaye

In this stop motion puppet animation, a creation story of day and night is revealed through the undying and complex relationship between the Sun and the Moon. Love and loss is expressed in a touching cosmic love story, outlining metaphors of shared personal narratives.

Letters to the Future

Aug 31
At Var Gallery on 2nd

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