Category: Madison Leaders In Art

Alaura Megan Seidl is Making Art and Making Change

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Alaura Megan Seidl

Alaura Megan Seidl is one fascinating and busy creator and community activist. Alaura is an artist, founder of ArtWrite Collective, and teaches at the University. She even found time to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Alaura has a lot to share, so let’s get right to it!

Alaura Megan SeidlI see that you are the founder of an intriguing cooperative called ArtWrite Collective. In one sentence, how would you describe ArtWrite Collective to the community?

The ArtWrite Collective is an emerging organization of LGBTQ folks, folks of color, and womyn who are cultivating a resilient community through art.

This initiative is already doing so much–ArtWrite can’t be fully captured in one sentence! Our strategies for cultivating a resilient community include: creative youth development, activist artist development, and public aesthetic diversification. We support artists who support our community through anti-oppression work; we collaborate with local organizations in order to celebrate our community and catalyze change. Keep an eye out for summer art shows and projects around Dane County, WI!

So one of your pleasures in life is finding objects. What are some of your favorite “keepers”?mirror2

I believe that art, writing, and creative expression should be accessible for everyone in our community. This means that everyone has access to creative education and materials for creation. Often, people assume that means we need expensive gouache or fancy easels, and that absolutely is not the case. Creativity surfaces when we move, in conversations with friends, or through experimentation with the everyday objects around us. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with finding traditionally domestic objects, objects that have been discarded, or objects with visible history—ultimately, I project my own identity and experiences onto those found objects by drawing self-portraits directly onto their surfaces with inexpensive permanent markers. Paper or canvas, for me, can be costly, intimidating, and truly boring—I prefer cardboard fresh out of the dumpster, cups no longer needed by friends, and plates that have been eaten off of by a stranger.

My favorite “keepers” have been antique or vintage mirrors. I don’t own a car, so, locating and hauling these heavy mirrors back to my studio entails a certain kind of physical labor; I once walked two miles with a mirror bigger than I am in order to get it to a private space for toiling. The physicality of the projects continue through the self-portrait-drawing process. I place myself in mundane or precarious positions and repeatedly trace the lines of my body that I see in the reflection. In this sense, I consider the mirror portraits to be performance pieces that explore ability, gender expression, and the boundaries between art/craft while implicating onlookers in my story.

I read that you will be teaching a new course at the UW entitled “Art + Social Justice.” Can you share a brief synopsis of what this class will be about?

Art 448 Lab 009: Art + Social Justice is a UW-Madison Art Department course in creative grassroots activism. Art + Social Justice is open to undergraduate or graduate students of any discipline and will explore counter storytelling as a tool for social change, develop students’ narrative aesthetic for anti-oppression work, and engage in community-based projects.

What piques your interest outside of the art world and finding objects?

I care about what type of society that young people are growing up in today. Dane County, WI has profound racial disparities that the public needs to critically and innovatively address with persistence—there are local groups who have taken leadership roles in shifting the culture of institutions and policies around us, and we need a larger wave of allies to acknowledge and immediately join that movement in order to see big change today and for the generations who will follow us. Research and personal experience also show that queer and trans* folks disproportionately experience food and housing insecurity, trauma, and other health disparities in our community and across the country. These experiences can’t be overlooked. My role in all of this starts with introspective reflection but manifests in community through youth partnerships. Through projects with the ArtWrite Collective, I’ve had the joy​ of collaborating with youth groups in order to celebrate the unique talents, experiences, and voices that make up our community but who may not always be heard. Individual voice and autonomy pique my interest. Waves of impassioned voices really get me going.

Alaura Megan Seidl You did something reminiscent of Cheryl Strayed, author of the book Wild, by hiking more than 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  What did you learn about yourself on this journey?

I’ve wanted to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail since high school but have had chronic back pain stemming from a wrestling injury that made me believe I could never do it. A series of fortunate upswings in my health and some serious financial planning ultimately allowed me to walk 1,019 miles of trail, see nearly twenty bears up close, and pee (a lot) in the woods for five months last year. Although a new injury ultimately took me off trail, the journey really allowed me to grow into my body. The body can be an especially funny thing for folks with chronic pain, for queer folks, and for womyn. For me, being inundated with feelings other than back pain (exhaustion, chafing, thirst, blisters) actually helped me refocus my emotional energy on my relationships and not on how much I may hurt—because in a lot of ways, we always hurt. I still struggle with chronic pain, but now I know that I can be sore at home on the couch or be sore at the foot of a stream, laughing with friends, checking out red spotted newts, and feeling ready for whatever may come. There’s a lot of privilege that comes along with that awakening, but I am forever grateful that the hike gave me the capacity to feel and exist beyond the physical limitations of myself.

Anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?

There is no way I could do anything of value without reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships. So many folks in our community are doing creative, thoughtful, and necessary work that I wouldn’t be able to name them all. Thank you to all of you doing the hard work in your intimate circles and out in public spaces. We need all of you.

You may contact Alaura by email at

Or visit her website:


2015 Artery Scholarship Fund Goes To ArtWrite Resilient

Art Scholarship Fund

The Artery is committed to helping promote art in the community and the use of art in programs in various ways. 10% of all the net proceeds on our website are put toward The Artery Scholarship Fundwhich will go each year to an underprivileged student who is applying to or attending art school or for art supplies for a program in need. The more sales we have each year, the larger that scholarship fund will be, and the more budding artists we can support!

In 2015, we discovered the ArtWrite Resilient program, an emerging community arts initiative in Dane County, WI developing intentionally inclusive and potentially empowering art workshops alongside queer youth, youth of color, and young womyn. After hearing about the amazing work they plan to do with Briarpatch Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, we knew that the small donation of art supplies would be utilized for a wonderful cause.

ArtWrite Resilient, also known as the ArtWrite Collective, is an emerging community arts initiative in Dane County, WI developing intentionally inclusive and potentially empowering art workshops alongside queer youth, youth of color, and young womyn.

The ArtWrite Collective represents a collaboration between community artists, educators, UW students, non-profits and youth passionate about social justice. Together, they develop uniquely strengths-responsive programming that encourages creative expression, cultivates resiliency through skill building, and shifts the local landscape to represent the experiences of all youth in our community.

Supporting local artists engaged in anti-oppression work is just as critical to the ArtWrite Collective. The current cohort of volunteers identify as pro-queer, pro-womyn, pro-POC artists and activists. As program capacity expands, paid community-based artist residencies will be offered to artists interested in contributing to this justice-oriented organization. The initiative utilizes multiple artistic disciplines to meet program goals and seeks expertise across media for future projects.

The ArtWrite Collective is partnering with Briarpatch Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin for a major pilot of this initiative; our artists facilitate weekly programs with the transitional living cooperative, GoldenEye, which prevents homelessness among youth ages 18-22. Members of this cooperative are working with ArtWrite to plan an art show and mural that represent their unique experiences and creative talent. The Artery donated money from the scholarship fund to be used to buy art supplies for this project. This donation will give the youth the chance to control a small supplies budget in preparing for the art show and mural. Negotiating use of these communal funds and managing the budget is a great opportunity for some life skills development.

Contact lead artist Alaura Seidl at for information about bringing ArtWrite programming to your agency’s portfolio, to apply to volunteer with ArtWrite, or to offer resources to this arts initiative.

Jessica M. Pankratz

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Jessica M. PankratzJessica M. Pankratz is one of The Artery’s new artists. I actually saw Jessica’s work for the first time at a solo exhibition at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse. I was so impressed that I wanted to learn more about her and her unique style of art. Find out how Jessica gets her creative juices flowing, and more, right here.

I read that you started as an artist by writing poetry. Do you still write and have any of your poems been published?

Yes, I started writing poetry when I was 13 years old (about 22 years ago). I also started doodling cartoon characters all over my homework and notes back then. As far as if I still write, it’s rare these days. When I switched over to exploring visual art (3 years ago), the words stopped flowing out of me the way they once had. It was interesting to notice that switch in gears.

Yes, I have had poems published. When I went to school at UW-Eau Claire, there was a poetry and visual arts book called NOTA that got published every year. I had a few poems in the book for two different years. Also, one other time in a magazine/book called Poetry Motel in 2003. It’s funny, because they sent me a copy of the book that they said would have my poem in it, but it was the wrong issue so I never saw it actually published.

I also read that you are a self-taught artist. What advice would you offer to others who wish to share their creativity with the world?Jessica M. Pankratz

When I look back, there were so many times as a child, as a teenager and as an adult that I wanted to be an artist, but then would stop because I would give my power over to others to determine whether I was “good enough”. One day, after taking a good look at where this belief came from that “I wasn’t an artist” or “wasn’t good enough”, I realized that it wasn’t true. It was clearly a life changing experience, because I started seeing the world in a totally new way. It was as if I had just opened my eyes for the first time and everything was brighter, shinier and more colorful. From that moment forward, the “art” flowed out of me and wouldn’t stop:) So, I would say, realize your own power, play as much as you can when you create, let go, take risks, and listen to yourself because your art IS you, an extension of you and your unique expression. There is no right or wrong with art. That’s the beauty in it. Nobody can tell you that you did it wrong. Many people may try, but it’s your choice how you want to hear them.

Jessica M. PankratzMany of your pieces include the image of a Buddha. Is there a special meaning behind this?

I honestly can’t explain it. I feel drawn to these images like a magnet. Typically, the images I find are statues that I take photos of and then feel inspired to draw from a different angle or many angles. There may also be an underlying influence because of my spirituality/spiritual journey, but the “feeling” of being inspired is what is more present when I read this question.

Do you have a favorite place to give life to your beautiful art?

Thank you for the compliment:) Yes, I do almost all of my artwork at Mother Fool’s coffeehouse on Willy St. One of the owner’s actually made a silly ad for his Facebook page of me indicating that I “only feel creative at Mother Fool’s”. Ha ha. It was a cheesy but funny advertisement. Typically though, I feel inspired by something in the world and then feel like making the actual art at Mother Fool’s. Many people ask me to create bigger pieces, and the main reason I don’t, is because then I’d have to be holed up at home or in a studio. That doesn’t feel exciting to me:)

What are your goals for the future?Jessica M. Pankratz

Other than to create a website for my art work, I have to think about that. Right now, I feel like I’m nurturing my soul and that the next wave of artwork that’s going to come out is in a cocooning period.

See more about Jessica M. Pankratz!

Madison Artery

Deepa Sampath

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Deepa Sampath adds beauty and color to the world with incredibly vibrant paintings. Deepa is quite versatile, working with a number of different mediums. Did you know you can paint with coffee powder? Deepa has done it, and find out what else this talented artist can do right here!

Deepa Sampath


Do you generally look at an object when drawing or painting?Deepa Sampath
I prefer looking at an object, especially when I sketch, because of the detailing. In the case of painting, like landscapes, I put them in my own way.

I read that you sketch or paint on just about any surface. Do you have a favorite? Is there a surface that is more challenging than others?
Yes, I love to paint on different surfaces. My favorites to paint on are wood, egg shell, and grip mats. The challenging surface is ‘egg shell,’ because it needs careful handling techniques starting with the cleaning procedures and then painting on them.

Deepa SampathYou use an excellent array of colors in your work. Have you ever done black and white?
So far, I haven’t tried painting with black and white, but I have an idea of doing it. I also do ‘coffee painting’, a technique I practiced using coffee powder. This type of painting has just the brown color.

Deepa SampathIf you could only choose one color, what would it be? What is the first word that comes to mind with that color?
If I had to choose one color, I would go for ‘green,’ which I feel is the most attractive among all colors. Thinking about the color green, the word that first comes to me is ‘leaf.’

What are your aspirations for the future?
I have exhibited my artworks in Megan’s Custom Framing store as a part of the MMoCA Gallery night for the past two years. In the future ­ I aspire to be featured in more art galleries displaying my unique style of paintings; look forward to being an art instructor, where I can inspire people who are really interested in learning new styles of painting; and planning to be part of future art fairs conducted across Wisconsin.

Deepa Sampath


Madison Art Hub

Madison Art Hubby Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Madison Art Hub is a new space on the east side that is ready to welcome artists with open arms. In need of a place to create? They have you covered with 17 private studio rentals available. The Hub would also love to showcase your work. Want to learn more about what they can do for you? Look no further than right here, as Sher interviewed co-owner Jeff Gabriel.

What inspired you to open Madison Art Hub?
Ever since I was a teenager, my friends and I would drive past old warehouses and factories, and imagine using them as an art studio, gallery, coffee shop, or pretty much anything else for that matter. After meeting my wife several years ago, with her background in arts management, we decided it was time to do something productive with ourselves. As much as I love working on art, I know I don’t yet possess the skill to cut it as a full time artist, so erecting the Hub was our way of promoting our own development as artists and trying to help the rest of the art community.

Madison Art HubAre you and/or your wife artsy? Do either one of you have a favorite style of art?
My wife and I have always been interested in the arts; however, we both have very different styles and opinions on the matter with her being more sculptural, and myself more in tune with painting and photography. Rachael has a good eye for combining found objects and re-purposing them into something new and more interesting. I tend to focus on photography, working a lot in details and macro work.

What do you like to do outside of the art world?
Unfortunately, that implies we have any spare time. That said, when Rachael and I aren’t working, trying to organize things at the Hub, or running between other events, we actually spend most of our time at home with our two dogs.

Do you plan to host any community events?Madison Art Hub
We’ve already been putting on exhibits for artists in our gallery since our grand opening back in June. The Hub’s got several shows under its wing already, and I’m looking forward to more in the next year. Aside from that, we’ve been in contact with a few arts organizations (Project Famous for one) that have helped us hold a few workshops and events including a writer’s workshop and the “art jam” earlier this year. In the future, I’d like to start having our resident artists and myself put on classes, but I’ve been holding out this year until we can raise more awareness about the studio.

Madison Art HubWhat types of services are available to artists at Madison Art Hub, and do you charge a fee for these services?
Here at the Hub, we’ve been offering access to gallery space for artists, a communal workshop, and several individual studios. We have been charging varying fees for the spaces available, because sadly, the studio costs money to run and maintain. Additionally, there are some extra opportunities we’d like to provide in the future that we’re still working on, so I hope everyone stays posted by following our website and Facebook page.

Will the Hub be doing any exhibitions, and if so, is this service available solely to artists who live in Madison?
I plan to keep up on exhibitions as best as possible, although I expect we’ll take it a little more easy during the winter months, since turnout is always a trick with Wisconsin weather. Currently, we’ve been focused on artists in the general area, but it’s been more a matter of logistics. However, for gallerynight, we contacted Tyler Holman, an artist fresh out of Lakeland College near Sheboygan, to offer him a solo show. I have no reservations about allowing artists from outside of Madison to utilize our space, but the goal is to help promote local artists as best we can.

What kind of advice do you have for up and coming art peeps?Madison Art Hub

Although I’m far from the best person to take advice from, do not get discouraged. Whether you’re having a hard time finding receptive clients or positive feedback, do not let that slow you down in your passions. Art has so many facets to it and so many different kinds of people both working on it and backing it, that there will always be room for your work. I don’t mean to trail off, but an artist that showed with us earlier this year was very let down about the response he received to some of his pieces, and those same works ended up being the most popular in his show. So you never know what’s going to come around the corner, and you need to keep focusing and honing your skills.

In one sentence, tell Madisonians why they should check out Madison Art Hub.
Since the beginning, we have strived to help grow the art community, helping beginners and veterans become more connected to the art world, and we have every intention of doing everything in our power to continue promoting artists in their endeavors in the future.


Little Galleries, Big Ideas

Mini displays bring contemporary art to sidewalks

Little Galleries in Madison | Rachel Bruya & Jeremy Wineberg

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

I was intrigued with Little Galleries as soon as I heard about them last year. I  jumped on my bike to check out the Little Monroe Gallery and have been following them ever since. I get excited in anticipation of the new art to be viewed every month, which is why I thought it would be great to meet the curators of this unique concept. I set up an interview with Rachel Bruya and Jeremy Wineberg on behalf of The Artery. They were a delight to chat with and learn all about the galleries right here.

How did Little Galleries come about, and do you have plans for more of them?

Rachel – I have always wanted to do something here like a backyard or garage gallery. I’ve thought about it for years and one day it just clicked. By doing something small it could be relatively easy to sustain both in time and cost. I mentioned my idea to Professor Gail Simpson in the Art Department at UW-Madison and she really liked the idea. She asked if the project could become part of the Service Learning in the Arts Course, which involved two students having internships with us, and she worked with the Art Department to provide funding for the materials to build the structures. This really helped us get off the ground and expand our plan to do more than one gallery, which is how Jeremy Wineberg got involved. Jeremy works on Monroe Street and worked with the owners of Monroe Street Framing to grant permission to use a small part of the property to site the Little Monroe Gallery. We applied for two grants through the City of Madison Arts Commission and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. We spent the winter of 2012/2013 planning the program and designing and building the structures with the graduate students.

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How does an artist get their work into a Little Gallery?

We are currently accepting proposals for the 2015 season, and interested artists can submit their idea to Artists should have a good track record and be site-specific. We strongly suggest to anyone that submits a proposal should first visit the galleries and/or one of our events. Here is the link to submit your work –


Last year, we secured approval for a third gallery, Little Forward Gallery, near the  Red Gym on campus, and it will be installed as soon as we have it built. The gallery part of the structures are built out of steel with very thick glass to provide UV protection. They also have to be weather-proofed and vented and deter vandalism.  We originally thought we would build the structures more simply and out of less durable materials; however, one of the graduate students, who is a professional fabricator, convinced us to build them in a more substantial way.

Jeremy – We run into the same kinds of problems that big galleries have in terms of space, the design, and finding art to go into the space. What works nicely between the two galleries is that they are different shapes and proportions. We ask the artists to design work to fit into the spaces. It can get tricky, especially with the shape of the Little Monroe Gallery, but it challenges our artists to come up with very interesting solutions.


Does anyone keep an eye on the Little Galleries and which months are they on display?

Each gallery needs a caretaker, checking on them every day. They become part of the neighborhood and community, and we’ve found that neighbors keep an eye out for us too. Both Little Mifflin Gallery and Little Monroe Gallery run month-long solo shows from May through October. The shows switch the first week of the month.

Nathan Vernau's piece at the Little Mifflin Gallery.

Nathan Vernau’s piece at the Little Mifflin Gallery.

What is the message you hope to send to the community with Little Galleries?

We have a desire to make art accessible and part of an everyday experience. People are more familiar with art history, and we really want to show contemporary art that is happening right now and to help break down barriers and make art more accessible. We’re both passionate about the value of art in our culture and public art in particular, and we think of the Little Galleries as a type of public art.

Our mission is to expose the unsuspecting passerby to contemporary artwork. This drives every decision we make: from designing the structures, to siting the galleries and curating the shows. Artists are an important component of creating a vibrant city.  We want to provide the artist with a space to make something that is thought-provoking and professional, and allows the opportunity for their work to be seen by a wide audience.

monroe street Little GalleryHas this concept taken off in other cities that you are aware of?

While we were in the planning stages, we ran across some small galleries, but nothing that is happening right at the sidewalk and with a regular schedule of shows. We hope this concept will spread and we’ve had five or six artists in other states express interest in becoming part of the program. We’re always looking at ways to improve the program and this is one area we are very excited about.

Connect with Little Galleries!

You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by searching “Little Galleries”. We do regular updates, including notification of our print-a-day-program.

Funding for Little Galleries is provided by the City of Madison Arts Commission; the University of Wisconsin-Madison with partial funding support by the Art Department Board of Visitors Fund; and Dane Arts with additional funds from the Evjue Foundation, charitable arm of the Capital Times.


Hatch Art House

by Sherry BonDurant hatchOn behalf of The Artery, Sherry BonDurant paid a visit to the Hatch Art House to learn more about the shop and the owner who started it all, Tammy Schreiter. Hatch Art House is brimming with eclectic, beautiful pieces of art from more than 50 Wisconsin artists. Everything at the shop is for sale, and the variety is endless including jewelry, magnets, ceramics, note cards, and a whole lot more. See for yourself by checking out Hatch Art House, located at 1248 Williamson Street across from the Willy
Street Co-op.

How did Hatch Art House get its start and where does the name come from?
As a young emerging artist, I found myself wishing there were a casual, inviting art gallery that would be welcoming to ALL artists and patrons. The word “hatch” means many things, but mainly fresh and emerging and Art House is more casual and relaxed than the word “gallery.” We are more of a gift shop/gallery hybrid. I wanted a place that would welcome people from all walks of life and income levels.


Are you an artist, and if so, is your work displayed here?
Yes to both questions. I have a Fine Arts degree in painting and work with mainly watercolor and acrylics. I also enjoy rehabbing old furniture and making jewelry.

Are your collections permanent, temporary, or both?
All of the collections here are temporary. I have art displayed from more than 50 artists and every piece is an artist’s work that is for sale. Each artist must reside in the state of Wisconsin in order to have their work here on consignment.

paintingsDo you offer regular events or art classes?
I do not offer any art classes. I do offer an event that is once per month, which is the “Featured Artist of the Month.” This is an in-house artist of my choosing, who is featured for an entire month including a reception the second Friday of the month. In addition, I host a juried art show two times per year (EcoSquared in January and EcoSculpt in July) featuring upcycled art.

How does an artist apply to have their work consigned at your shop?
Artists can apply online at I review submissions and contact the artist if there is a good fit and availability.