Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Liz and Shane strolling along Kinnickinnic Avenue in Milwaukee.
When you first enter the clean, spare, white-walled gallery named The Alice Wilds, you might politely ask to meet Alice, whom you'd maybe imagine to be a stylish woman in her 40s, but the truth about Alice Wilds' identity is that she is not human -- she's a 19th Century sunken ship.
In 1892 a steamer ship from Chicago, bound for Escanaba (located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula), was struck by a small passenger steamer. The name of the damaged steamer was Alice E. Wilds, which unfortunately sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan within 3 minutes, taking all of her watery secrets with her.
But the spectral energy of Alice Wilds now inhabits Milwaukee's art scene.
Currently on display at The Alice Wilds is Queering the Cream City, a new exhibition showcasing a small group of LGBTQ+ artists from around the United States. Ten framed pictures from our project Instant Classic are included in this exhibition.
We arrived at the gallery in mid-afternoon, excited to peer in the window and see our work up on the wall. We were surprised when a figure suddenly emerged from the door and said a friendly hello. "I'm Vaughan!" They said.
"And we're Liz and Shane!" We said.
So the first thing we learned about Vaughan, whom we'd previous only interacted with through email, is that they give a good hug. Such a lovely thing to receive a warm hug from a stranger right after a long chilly ferry ride!
Later, after a quick stop at our hotel, where we discovered the wi-fi was down and the difficulty of securing an Uber driver proved how useless we are without digital technology, we returned to The Alice Wilds (ready for a much-needed drink) for the official opening of Queering the Cream City.
What a magical evening! After the gallery closed for the night we toured a couple of trendy Milwaukee LGBTQ+ bars. Shane discovered he loves a Negroni made with smokey Mezcal. Liz discovered her love of smokey grilled brats with all the fixings served from a local street vendor. We both delighted in dipping our toes into the sparkle and fizz of LGBTQ+ night life.
A special thank you to Vaughan Larsen -- curator, John Sobczak - gallery director, and Tina Schinabeck - gallery manager. It was also a pleasure meeting artists Ben Herbert and Angela Piehl. Congratulations to the other talented artists exhibited in Queering the Cream City: Marval A. Rex, Jamie Ho, Bo Hubbard, Daniel Roa, Kostis Fokas, Dustin Steuck, Cai Quirk, Libby Oliver, Cloudy Moroni, Roy Larmour, and Anwar Mahdi.
Thank you kindly to the very radiant Michael Lagerman; Sam, and Carrie Ann -- we didn't catch your last names, so sorry!
Last of all, thank you Milwaukee for being a welcoming and inspiring place for diverse, contemporary artists.
Ten percent of sales from our framed prints currently in The Alice Wilds will be donated to the Milwaukee chapter of PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. To purchase, visit The Alice Wilds.
Hope to be back soon,
Liz and Shane