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Ethereal Garden

April 8 - June 11
At Var Gallery on 5th

Var West Gallery is pleased to announce Ethereal Garden, a solo exhibition featuring Milwaukee based painter Michelle Schilling.

Schilling works with contrasting approaches including the application of the paint which can be “loose and organic to controlled and structured” or the colors she chooses which can be natural or unnatural. Experimenting with painting over thread and confetti adds softness to each artworks space and depth. 

Michelle Schilling graduated from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2016 receiving a BFA in Painting.  She has shown work in a number of galleries in Milwaukee including Var Gallery, Gallery 326, and Portrait Society. Schilling currently works out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



April 8 - June 11
At Var Gallery on 5th

Glimmers joins two artists, Anika Kowalik and David Mueller, that share both intuitive and laborious processes in search of clarity. In this instance, “a glimmer” is defined as the moment of clarity itself. We find that it can be found within our works whether characterized as something faint or shining brightly immensely.



Fueling off the whimsy, every last celebration, and preservation of the self. Fancying Double Dutch with a worn-out phone cord, a Spaulding Alley-ooped or 5th round of Mz. Sue.
Utilizing objects to decorate and adorn this black body allows for excavation of the muddy and ugly to overturn what was overlooked

and lost.
I made this for you and me. So when you look at me, you see yourself reflecting back at you. 
Do you know how good you’ve always looked?
Everyone’s dying to be like you.
But no one’s dying unless they 𝙙𝙤 look like you. 
Hold onto me
and don’t forget 𝙢𝙚


Over the past year, my work has sought to create a space in which I can process feelings of friendship, gender, grief, and intimacy. In my painting practice, I’ve found the most joy in the laboratory’s immediacy. Quick as the medium is, it allows me to materialize some of my rapidly cycling ideas. Images and planes of space are excavated from layers of paint. Through a psychological-emotional lens, memory becomes splintered, revised, and semi-opaque. Fact, fiction, and fantasy become a point of focus, yet indistinguishable from one another. 

I had approached this series with the intent of incorporating sigil making rituals into the initial layout and composition of each piece; a sort of homage to my brother, who practiced witchcraft as a means of self-healing. He was killed in a drowning accident this year. The studio became a source of refuge during those difficult times as I coped with immense grief as well as a recent divorce. The pieces range from abstractions to figures, and serve as landmarks on the road to self-rediscovery. 


New Horizons

May 23 - July 4
At Var Gallery on 5th

In times of ambiguity, no “one” true view or answer exists. Each has a task to seek their truth and reach their “horizon.” New Horizons 2020 is a collaborative show between Var West Gallery in Milwaukee and Yoh Gallery in Tokyo. By bringing new views, techniques, and stories together, we seek to find both unity and uniqueness through the creative processes of the West and the East.

Participating artists:
Caitlyn Doran, Cole Norton, Daisuke Mukai, Haruki Yamaba, Kazuki Yamamoto, Kyomi Tachibana, Maiko Yoshizawa, Mei Collasse, Moon Jin Young, Takafumi Ohba, Takaya Honda, Teruyo Kiyono, Yoshie Tachiki

Curated by Aki and Cole Norton


Bye For Now

Jan 25 - March 28
At Var Gallery on 5th

Var West Gallery is pleased to announce Bye For Now, a solo exhibition featuring street fashion photographer Isaac Harris. Harris, who also goes by the name Breaking Fad, has taken candid portraits of people in cities such as Berlin, New York, and Paris. Bye For Now will act as a retrospective, as well as a capstone, representing the past 8 years of Harris’s career capturing the extraordinary people he has met on the streets. 


Without a studio environment, and often spending no more than 30 seconds with any given individual, Harris captures the closeness and raw emotion within the human persona. Harris says about capturing this moment, “ are getting that person in all their truth. There is no time to be a different person.” In these brief moments of photographing someone, the stranger becomes a friend. Losing his mother and sister to death in his late teens, Harris considers himself a kind of loner. And yet, behind the camera, a connection is made. “Each person I take a photo of I feel connected to them to this day. Just about every photo I’ve taken I know where it was or what the weather was on that particular day.”


Harris started his journey photographing people for their fashion choices as a way to break up his time from his business painting houses. Eventually, Harris began to feel more connected with the individuals themselves than the clothing they wore. Facial features and contextual artifacts become glimpses into the lives of his subjects. Keeping the photographs black and white allow the focus to be on the individual. When Harris does use color it is minimal and purposeful, used only to enhance the individuality of the person photographed. 


Isaac Harris was born in Columbus, Ohio where he attended The Ohio State University to study Journalism. He has photographed people from cities such as New York, Paris, and Berlin. Harris currently lives and works out of Milwaukee, WI and continues to travel to various cities around the globe.

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The Writing is On The Wall

Aug 17
At Var Gallery on 2nd

The Writing on the Wall" exhibition is as direct as we can be. Starting this week, we invite the community of Milwaukee to come into Var, and fill our chalkboard painted walls with your thoughts on the current climate of the world.

witing on the wall
out of the cellar

 Out of the Cellar, Selections from the Flat Files

Aug 17
At Var Gallery on 2nd

Three years ago, REAL TINSEL began the long process of building a registry of work on paper from artists throughout the state. Over the past few years the files have continued to grow, reaching almost 100 artists and over 1000 individual works. This ever-expanding project is located in the basement of REAL TINSEL along with a sofa, a viewing platform, a turntable, a dry bar and other amenities to encourage the ultimate private viewing session. It’s open to the public by appointment at any hour or day, and always for walk-ins when the gallery is open.


As satisfying as it is to peruse the files in this privately curated environment with a record playing, we felt that a little walk around the neighborhood would be good for work. So in the first gallery exchange with Var Gallery, selections from the flat files will emerge from their sanctuary and travel into the larger viewing universe for the first time.


We hope this curated selection from the files will showcase the breadth and quality of the work in the registry and encourage those who haven’t yet experienced them in person to take a trip to REAL TINSEL to see the rest of the project. And finally, we would like this exchange to encourage new artists to be in contact with us about offering work for the files so that the project will continue to grow and cross-pollinate with the greater above-ground art world for years to come.

Exhibiting Artists:

Björn Akerblom, Scott Zeiher, Andy Rubin, Demitra Copoulos, Scott Zeiher, Scott Espeseth, Thad Kellstadt, Mike Paré, Ian Sonsyadek, LaNia Sproles, John Hitchcock, Jessica Merchant, Tom Berenz, Jesse Bell, Makeal Flamini, Michael Davidson

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