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Plum Blossom Initiative and Var Gallery & Studios are pleased to announce the opening of "Bridge Work 05" at Var West Gallery.

Exhibition Open: September 14 – October 19, 2019 during Var West Gallery hours (Fridays & Saturdays 11 – 4PM)

Panel Discussion: October 10, 6 – 7 PM in Between Two Galleries (BTG)

In 2015, Leah Kolb (Curator of Exhibitions at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art) and Jason S. Yi(visual artist and Director of Hawthorn Contemporary) formed Plum Blossom Initiative (PBI) to provide professional development opportunities for emerging contemporary artists in the Milwaukee area. In 2018, PBI and Var Gallery partnered in order to provide further support to the selected Bridge Work artists. Learn more about PBI and Bridge Work at!

For the 5th iteration of Bridge Work, PBI and Var selected three artists to participate in the Bridge Work 05 professional development program.

Phoenix S. Brown is a Cincinnati-native, multidisciplinary artist, based in Milwaukee, WI. She holds a BFA in New Studio Practice from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design with a minor in Art History. Her work explores the mental and social complications of being a young, hyper-aware African-American. Through painting, installation, and video, her work captures blackness,femininity, anxiety, and triumph. In 2018, she completed her first residency at the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art through the generous support of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship. Her practice is also informed by her independent museum studies and volunteering in local institutions. Brown has exhibited work in Milwaukee, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. When not making or organizing an art collection, she spends her time reading, writing, gathering found materials, and being carefree.

Vaughan Larsen is an artist currently based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Larsen received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography and Imaging from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in May 2019. His practice currently explores issues of identity and relationships at the intersection of queer culture. Larsen recently received the 2019 SPE Student Award for Innovations in Imaging, After School Special’s 2019 Grilled Cheese Grant, and the 2017-2018 Joy of Giving Fellowship from Imaging America / White House Millennium Council. He was also named the First Place winner of Creative Bursary LGBTQ+ Stories Edition by Getty Images. Larsen’s work has been written about in publications such as Urban Milwaukee, Phemme Zine, Photo Emphasis, and Humble Arts Foundation.

Reed Skocz is a Chicago native based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Reed received his BFA from The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in New Studio Practice with an emphasis in painting. He is interested in the process of making through collage and painting as a mode of reconfiguration and interpretation. Employing themes from theatre and domestic settings, his work explores identity, truth, and performance. Skocz was one of five artists to design a “Canvas Room” at Milwaukee’s first Arts Hotel, Saint Kate. His work is on display in multiple guestrooms at the hotel in addition to a room-sized installation. He was chosen to participate in an exchange program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018 and has exhibited work at the Madison State Capital through the Untold Stories Project.


September 14th - October 19th
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