In 2015, Milwaukee-based artist Jason S. Yi and Madison-based curator Leah Kolb formed Plum Blossom Initiative (PBI) as a vehicle through which to bridge the gap between the Madison and Milwaukee arts communities and to support local up-and-coming artists. Their collaboration resulted in the development of the first Bridge Work chapter.
Thanks to a partnership begining in 2018 with Josh Hintz, owner and director of Var West Gallery and Var Gallery and Studios, BW-Milwaukee artists receive a free studio space for the duration of the program, along with Var’s artist-in-residence benefits, including access to a wood shop and kiln, free admission to events, the ability to participate in Var community exhibitions, and other perks. The annual BW-Milwaukee exhibition is presented at Var West Gallery each September.
• • •
Josh Hintz, Bridge Work Facilitator
Josh Hintz is the owner and director of Var West Gallery and Var Gallery and Studios and owner of Hawthorne Contemporary.
Leah Kolb, Bridge Work Co-founder and Faciliator
Leah Kolb the Curator of Exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art where she programs and oversees the museum’s special exhibitions and installations. At MMoCA, she has curated or co-organized over twenty-five exhibitions, largely focusing on contemporary artists who address complex sociopolitical concerns and offer alternative perspectives to dominant narratives. With Milwaukee-based artist and educator Jason S. Yi, she co-founded Bridge Work, a professional development program for Wisconsin-based emerging artists. Bridge Work aims to forge a more interconnected arts community throughout the region by facilitating meaningful artistic exchanges among emerging artists and arts-oriented leaders and organizations. Additionally, she serves on the Wisconsin Arts Board as Chair of the Accessibility Committee.
Riley Niemack, Bridge Work Project Manager and Facilitator
Riley Niemack received a BFA in integrated studio arts from the Milwaukee institute of Art and Design (MIAD) in 2016. Since graduation, Niemack’s practice has grown to include art advocacy as well as an interdisciplinary practice. Elevating the everyday using video performance and sculpture, Niemack strives to connect with a wide audience. Niemack’s recent invited and selected group exhibitions include Riverwest Femfest 2018’s exhibition at Ski Club, Riverwest Femfest 2017’s exhibition at Groovy Dog Gallery, and Var Gallery’s Material & Var Gallery Collective Exhibition. Her arts administration postions include, Project Manager of Plum Blossom Initiative’s Bridge Work series, Studio Manager for artist Jason S. Yi, Project Coordinator and Events Associate of Facilitating Situations, and Admissions Representative at MIAD.
Jason S. Yi, Bridge Work Co-founder and Facilitator
Jason S. Yi works across artistic disciplines: photography, video, sculpture, drawing, multimedia and interactive installations. The expanded notions of culture, time and history play a critical role in the creation of his work. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at the Asian American Art Center in NYC, Platform China Artist in Residence Program in Beijing, Moran Museum of Art in Seoul, Kamiyama Art Museum in Kamiyama, Japan, Hotel Pupik in Schrattenberg, Austria, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and Milwaukee Art Museum, among other galleries and museums. Yi has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation's Painters & Sculptors Grant (2014), Mary L. Nohl Foundations Fellowship in the established artist category, and Kamiyama Artist in Residence Fellowship, supported by the Japan Foundation. He was selected as the Milwaukee Artist of the Year in the year 2006 by the Milwaukee Arts Board. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Kamiyama Museum of Art in Japan, Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation in New York.
Olivia Elaine Lorber, Reagan Mulvey, Eduardo Zavala
Nick Drain, Jayce Kolinski, Kirsten Meier
Phoenix S. Brown, Vaughan Larsen, Reed Skocz
James Rogers, Daniel, McCullough, Brennen Steines