Tag: Wisconsin artists

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

sound sculpture piece by Enrique Rueda

Enrique Rueda Sculpts Sound

sound sculptures being playedThe space between art and music is filled

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

I was immediately intrigued when I discovered the artist I was going to interview creates sound sculptures. I wasn’t familiar with them other than what I had seen on The Artery’s website. I learned about Enrique Rueda’s passion for sound sculptures as I sat down with him in his studio. Enrique constructs striking wood sculptures that produce melodious sounds. I feel fortunate to have experienced a personal interaction with some of these beauties, and was able to create some pleasant sounds myself even though I haven’t played an instrument in years. I’m ready to see Enrique perform a live show, and I bet you will be too after reading this.

 View Enrique Rueda’s Artery Shop!

sound sculpture cello

You can purchase this gorgeous sound sculpture, “Amazon Cello” in a secure transaction via The Artery! Click on the image for more information.

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

sound sculptur

sound sculptur

How did you get started constructing sound sculptures?

Working on my Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin, I met professor “Skip” Johnson, a well-known artist in the U.S. He inspired me to use skills I already had, making all types of traditional musical instruments, and apply them to making wood sculptures. Since I am also a musician, it was easy to figure out that I wanted those sculptures to produce interesting sounds. Little by little I started identifying my work with the ideas behind Sound Sculpture as an art form, and I have been doing that for the past 30 years. Every piece I create is unique, since I don’t like to repeat a design. It takes me about 2-3 months to fully finish a piece and be happy with the outcome.


sound1What exactly is a sound sculpture and where did they originate from?

Sound sculptures as an art form, fill the space between a sculpture and a musical instrument. They are more than a sculpture because in the hands of a musician, they are capable of producing interesting sounds. They differ from musical instruments, because they are unique like sculptures, and not objects with a standard shape, as musical instruments need to be. With this in mind, we can say that the origin of sound sculpture is parallel to human development. Sound sculpture actually started when the first human groups created devices to produce sound. For example, if we look at ancient African art, we will see many interesting objects that look like musical instruments, but have a very unique shape. They can be drums, harps or flutes, but they are all different. Many other cultures all over the world have created objects like that, that we can call sound sculptures.


sound3Do people typically buy them to use as an instrument or as an art display?

Because they are sold in a gallery setting, most collectors buy them as unique sculpture pieces. I do not mind that, but I work at making them good sound makers as well, in case a curious musician wants to try them.


What motivates you during the design process?

My motivation to make the sculptures comes from my curiosity about how they will sound and how they will be played. It is something very unique to musical instruments, that they need a talented human being to extract the sound and create music. Without that they will just be sculptures or copies of sculptures. The human interaction then becomes another element of the whole design that is very interesting to me and takes my pieces into the realm of performance art.


sound sculpture piece by Enrique RuedaDid you create any pieces that you actually play?

Yes, all of my pieces can be played and produce interesting sounds. I often perform with them in openings as well as record CDs that I later sell. This is something that is very important to me. My reward for creating them is to use them. I have a few friends in town that have purchased pieces from me, and they have specifically told me that I can borrow them whenever I want for a performance. I have taken them up on their offer many times.


Is it possible for an entire band to perform using sound sculptures?

Yes, it is! I have performed live with friends all using sound sculptures, sometimes in my own openings and other times in formal concerts. We performed with the name of “Artsemble” as one of the groups for the opening of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. We used all sound sculptures, made by me or other member of the group.


Do you still perform live and/or sell CD’s?

Yes, I perform often. I play a few traditional instruments and have two different bands with friends. One is Xtring Quartet (http://xtring.com), we play traditional music from the Andean regions in Colombia. Also, with another band, Cuicani (http://cuicani.com), we play a variety of Latin American music, including Andean music from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile


Has anyone ever asked you to create a sound sculpture that they designed? Do you take special requests?

Yes, I build pieces on customer’s request. Not from their own design, but rather a variation of design from something I made before.

Heylon Wolter

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Heylon Wolter is your quintessential “starving artist” but certainly not for a lack of talent or ambition. Heylon, 26, currently has 4 jobs and is so busy working to pay the bills, he doesn’t have any spare time to promote his art or find the kind of work he is really passionate about. Heylon is a dedicated comic artist who sacrificed a lot to put himself through art school, including having no choice but to live out of his car and couch surf for a semester. Although he says he would rather be poor and doing something he loves than miserable and making a ton of money, Heylon is the kind of guy who really deserves to make it big in the comic world. The graphic novel he is working on with a friend – Apricity – could be the thing that launches his career to the next level.

Heylon was named by his father after Van Halen (Heylon doesn’t know if he was trying to be extra eccentric or if his dad was just a bad speller). He is interested in his pirate ancestry and loves the smell of homemade cookies. Read more from our interview with Heylon and check out his website for more amazing comic art!

[box float=”right”] How to contact Heylon Wolter:




Why did you move from Janesville to Madison?
I moved up to Madison to get an education. And to get out of the house. My mom was always saying, “I know you’re good art and everything, but you should find a backup. So IT was my backup, but I found out that I’d rather be poor doing art than be miserable doing something that will pay well. I was homeless for a semester. I did have a place at my parents’ in Janesville, but I wouldn’t have been able to go to school and drive back every day. So I lived in my car in Madison during the week and went back on the weekends. It paid off because I graduated. It took an extra year to get through school but I got through it. It was a big sacrifice but it was worth it.

comic0When did you get into comic art?
My mom always supported our creativity. Whenever we had a drawing she was interested in it. My brother was actually the one who got me into comic books. Gen 13 and X-Men were the titles that we really got into. It’s always been a big part of my life.  I’ve always drawn. Always. And I always got my comics at Kryptonite (Kryptonite Kollectibles in Janesville.) And I ended up getting a job there.

What is your favorite place in the world?
New Orleans. Because that’s where my ancestry knowledge kind of starts. My great great great grandfather was a pirate who sailed under Laffitte. He was from Italy. He was kicked out of Italy and was sent to the same island as Napolean. From there he became a pirate and he came to America. And here’s the badass part, during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson offered to pardon all pirates who would help end the war because they didn’t have a large enough Navy. They helped to defend America. My grandmother was the one who found out originally. And from then it’s been kind of a teamwork thing, discovering new information.

apricity-comicWhat was the first tape/record/CD you remember buying?
I don’t want to talk about the first album because it’s kind of embarrassing. (Badgering from me) It was the “Batman Forever” soundtrack. It was a tape and I think I was 8 or 10.

What is your favorite smell?
My all-time favorite smell my girlfriend can definitely tell you – is homemade cookies. I’m a sucker for home baked cookies.

What makes you angry?
My biggest pet peeve is people saying they are going to be somewhere and then just blow it off like it’s no big deal.

If you had to choose one, would you rather be rich while you are alive or famous after you die?
Leave a legacy. I always want to leave a legacy. I want to inspire people to do more. That was the one thing with comic books to me, they were always inspirational and inspired me to draw. The context of being famous   –  whether it’s comic books or not – I don’t really care. One of my favorite musicians had said that he doesn’t necessarily want to inspire other musicians. I mean it’s fine if he does. But he thinks it would be really cool if his song is playing in a kitchen and some chef made up some this brand new phenomenal recipe. So the flow of inspiration, getting people to challenge themselves and find that spark within themselves to do more.

comic-3What would your 15-year-old self think of you?
He’d think I’m awesome. My skill set has totally evolved. I remember looking at comic books when I was that age and thinking “God I wish I could draw like that” and now I can. And the only thing I’m not doing is the comic book itself. And I would be doing that if I wasn’t so worried about where my next rent check is coming from.

What kind of shampoo do you use?
My girlfriend works at a salon, so whatever she buys me. It’s Redken actually.

Have you noticed a difference in your hair since you started using fancy shampoo?
Yes actually.

Name one of your guilty pleasures besides using Redken shampoo:
It’s that I’m a gamer. I play a lot of games, I know a lot about games. It’s just kind of something I fell into. A lot of professionals look down on gamers.

What rule do you enjoy breaking?
I don’t know…all of them. If there is a rule I always question “why.” I had a discussion the other day with someone about traffic laws and he was like “This rule is dumb,” and I was like, “Well that actually makes a lot of sense.” So I’m perfectly fine following that law.

What is your favorite pair of shoes you have ever owned?
It’s a brand called Magnum. They are like police shoes. The ones that I got in high school were my first pair of combat boots and they lasted me four years. And they were stealth. That was the name they were. And when I was a kid, I always love sneaking around. So I’d sneak around my house and everything, and the boots were really stealthy. They were quiet and lightweight. Actually in high school I ran the mile in them when I forgot my tennis shoes once.

What makes someone an artist?
It’s hard to say what makes someone an artist. I guess it’s like the difference between an artist and a designer. A designer serves a purpose. An artist questions a purpose.

Tami Reschke

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Tami Reschke is a hugger not a hand-shaker. To meet her is like taking a dip in a cool lake on a hot summer day: refreshing, fun and invigorating. You almost hope by wearing a piece of her unique hand-crafted jewelry, you might become a happier and more charming person. Her infectious enthusiasm for art and life comes out in her jewelry with funk and flair that totally shouts “Madison made”. When she went to a recent high school reunion, her classmates kept asking her “When did you get so cool?” She is really cool.

Owner of The Bohemian Bauble, she’s been in the local art seen for nearly 2 decades and is a hard-working member of the art fair community, going to 42 shows last year alone. One of her guilty pleasures is eating SpahgettiO’s with meatballs — a meal that grosses other people out but makes her remember simpler times of her childhood. Her work recently garnered a RAWARD as Madison’s Accessory Designer of the Year by RAW. Read more about Tami and The Bohemian Bauble in part of my interview with her:

What have you observed about the Madison art scene or other Madison artists you have met?
I do think that Madison has a vibrant of art community. There are loads and loads of artists in the community. And we can always use more shows. It’s kind of a tough scene too because it’s kind of competitive. There are so many jewelry artists.

Do you think the ubiquity of Madison artists is something that’s been happening more recently or has it always been like that?
I think it’s happening more now and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m just hyper aware of it now. It’s probably the easiest craft to pick up. As far as not a ton of tools, the materials (depending on what you are using) are not necessarily uber expensive, and you don’t have to be ridiculously skilled at it.

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Learn More About Tami’s Jewelry:




You had a shop, where was that at?
It was two blocks down the street. It was called The Bohemian Bauble. It was open for six years. It was my jewelry and I still had a full-time job when my kids were young. So in order to keep my doors open, I had other artists show their stuff and work in the shop, so it was kind of like a co-op. And it worked for six years. It did get to be a little too much for me. And the economy tanking in 2008 did not help at all. So I closed the doors in January 2011 and decided just to go back and doing art fairs and home shows. But then I got laid off of October of 2011, and looked at it as…this is finally…I need to take the leap now. So I took the leap and I’ve been doing jewelry full time ever since. And I love it.

Still they don’t make it easy for you to own your own business. I was able to do it because I was married. But I just did my taxes and the self employment tax KILLED me. It’s really, really hard to make a living owning your own little small business, especially if you’re making all your own products. They could give those people a little bit more of a brake.

What are your thoughts on Etsy?
I am not an Etsy fan. There was another jewelry artist who was making earrings that were similar to mine. But hers were $14 and mine are $24. And we’re using the same materials. You have to raise your prices when it is your income and it’s what you do. And most of the people at art fairs are just doing it on the side. There aren’t as many artists that have the opportunity to be doing it full time. So that really does cause a conundrum when you’re mixed with the people who doing it as a side thing. Unless you totally want to concentrate on fine art shows.

(Tami’s home is laden with funky designs and unique art). Are some of the other art pieces you have around things that you did?
No, my friends did most of them. I try and do almost all of my shopping at the art fairs I go to or at local stores that only carry local artists. I’m a big believer in that.

(I told her about how I am contantly losing one of every pair of earrings I own)
Well that’s one of the reasons why I use lever backs. They are so safe. And that’s another reason why it’s great to know the artist where you got them from. I had a woman recently who came to me and said she lost one of her earrings. And the earring that she bought from me was literally 6 years old. But I still had the beads and was able to make her another one.

necklacesHow would you describe your art to someone who can’t see?
I would say that it’s colorful, shiny and it has textures and layers. And some beads you just want to suck on. Some of them look like candy. And they beg to be touched.

Is this style of jewelry always what you’ve been doing?
No, my family loves to pull out some of my early stuff. And it’s really embarrassing. No it evolves all the time. Even from year to year. It’s constantly changing. I try to always learn new techniques.

What is your favorite place in the world?
Well I have to say I haven’t been many places. I’m a small town girl. I’m from my Racine. I got voted at my senior breakfast in high school “The Most Likely To Never Leave Home.” It was a pretty accurate award. And I remember when I went back to my high school reunion at 20 years, people kept saying to me “When did you get so cool?” Because I wasn’t that cool in high school. I was kind of more of a follower than a leader in high school. It took me a long time to grow into myself.

Did you find that your art has been a big part of your growth?
Yes totally. When I opened the shop it changed my life dramatically.

But if I had to say what my favorite place is would be Canyon Park, which is a property that my friend owns in Dodgeville. It’s 44 acres and it’s got a canyon and a waterfall and a pond. It’s absolutely beautiful. My husband and I got married there.

Name 3 adjectives that describe your personality.
Energetic, Tenacious, and Honest.

Name one of your guilty pleasures.
SpaghettiO’s with meatballs. I still eat them. I crave them sometimes. It grosses people out. It’s one of those comfort foods for me because I would eat it when I was a little kid.

What was the first tape/record/CD you remember buying?
Barry Manilow (cringing). I loved him! It was a 45. I don’t remember which song it was because I had them all. I probably had every single he had.

Do you still listen to Barry Manilow?
No not by choice. I mean maybe once in a while it would be fun to hear “Copa Cabana.” But not deliberately.

dogWhat is your favorite smell?
The smell of the dogs. I love the way my dogs smell. They both sleep under the covers. They’re rooters. Sometimes I just like to lift up the blanket (she takes in a dramatic sniff of air). I love the way their feet smell, their muzzles smell. I love dogs.

What makes you angry?
Being treated unfairly or unjustly.

Is that something you feel like happens often for you?
No but when it does I get really pissed and I don’t let it go.

What would your 15-year-old self think of you?
Probably not much. I kind of remember being kind of crabby and having an attitude a lot when I was 15. You know you’re kind of hormonal. It’s a bad age for girls. I wasn’t pleasant. I probably was with my friends but not with adults.

What kind of shampoo do you use?
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree. And that’s because we have kids and lice is RAMPANT in schools, and tea tree really helps fighting off lice. I keep posting it on Facebook to the other moms. Get some tea tree shampoo!

What rule do you enjoy breaking?
When I get up in the middle of the night to let Leeroy out, I like to eat cookies. Like at 2am. Have a cookie at 2am. That’s something you’re not supposed to do, but I enjoy it.

What is your favorite pair of shoes you have ever owned?
When I was a kid, my sister gave me a pair of plastic clogs. They were purple on top and orange on the bottom. And they had holes in them where the top met the bottom all the way around so they were great for like splashing around in puddles on a rainy day.

Eric German

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Eric German takes creativity to a whole new level. His art blends a childlike, magical spectacle, cutting-edge engineering technology with a touch of retro psychedelic to create a totally unique kind of work unlike anything I have ever seen. A dedicated mixed media artist, he spends most of his time at his favorite place in the world is — his studio at Art In on Washington. He uses a combination of high-tech 3-dimensional printing with good ol’ Mod Podge and neon construction paper to create some seriously original work. He is currently searching for the perfect venue to display his art.

He describes himself as “obsessive,” and you can tell he takes his art seriously. He’s intelligent and conscientious with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a weakness for video games. He does not enjoy breaking rules. His car engine occasionally stops when he is in the middle of turning left. Guilty pleasures include eating a big bowl of cereal directly before bed. Here is some more of my interview with him:

How did you get into the 3-d printing? Were other people doing that, or was it just something that you thought would complement what you were already doing?
It was an elective at this school. Everybody else in the class was a design major, industrial design, or furniture design, these sort of things. And I was designing objects that don’t have utilitarian purpose.

[box float=”right”] How to contact Eric German www.ericgermanart.com [/box]

Did you ever have any interest in engineering?
I guess I had more of an interest in how these different ways of representing space. I was interested in engineering drawings and architectural drawings and different graphic projection methods. And then I did a class in 3-d modeling which is on the computer. These are 3-d prints that were produced on a 3-d printer.

Before I was just doing drawings on flat paper. And then in the 3-d modeling environment on the computer, you’re translating your drawings into 3-dimensional space so it becomes a digital representation. And then the 3-d printers let you fabricate these out of plastic so you get a real thing. It’s really cool.

The 3-d printing is used commercially in industrial design and engineering fields where you’re prototyping anything you see like scissors, paint brushes or power tools.

german-8Obviously everything is bright colors and really vivid. Is that a permanent choice or do you have other things you plan to do?
Yeah, it’s pretty much all rainbow, keyed up, loud colors … a little bit too loud. That’s a reference to video games like Mario Kart like the rainbow level. It’s loud and the shapes are rounded corners and soft. It’s sort of like a retro, video game, kid rainbow aesthetic.

What is your favorite place in the world?
I would say right here right now because this is where I get to make all this stuff.

This photo was taken at the Madison Gallery Night on May 3,  when Eric had his full Rainbow Factory installation set up. People were "oohing" and "aahhing" the second they stepped into the studio.

This photo was taken at the Madison Gallery Night on May 3, when Eric had his full Rainbow Factory installation set up. People were “oohing” and “aahhing” the second they stepped into the space.

What makes you angry?
Like everything. I almost had to cancel this morning because I went outside and slipped on the ice and landed right on my hand. I thought it was broken. It’s not and I can move it around. But I was just furious. And then my car, every time you’re at a stoplight and you go left, it quits. The RPMs are going like this and the car’s not going.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
I guess the idea there is to put it in perspective. You break something, an art piece or a computer part or something, it’s really not the end of the world. So keep things in perspective.

If you had to choose one, would you rather be rich while you are alive or famous after you die?
Rich while I’m alive. Maybe not rich, you know, maybe just enough money to buy a 3-D printer.

What rule do you enjoy breaking?
None of them. I actually like to have rules. I feel really guilty when I break one.

What would your 15-year-old self think of you?
Well I just turned 30 like a couple days ago. And you kind of realize that, when you’re 15, you think that you’re going to be like a “real live adult” when you’re 30. Yeah, not a real thing.

So do you still feel like a kid?
No I mean I think that the 15-year-old Eric would think that this stuff (points to art) is kind of cool…but all the other stuff like your car not working, your career hasn’t happened yet, whatever that is.

german-artcartWhat do you think makes someone an artist?
Just saying that you’re one is kind of the thing. The question is, “Can you have too many artists in a culture?” Probably not. But you know with the creative websites and the ubiquity of creative software and Apple’s marketing campaign that everyone can be a creative, I mean that’s something that I think about. It seems like there is a lot of marketing that sort of convinces everyone that they are creative. Like the rise of the Creative Class or the Maker Class.

Are you trying to sell this work?
No, I’m not pushing any commercial sales right now. It’s all just being incubated here in this space. Right now I’m building this body of work and I’m kind of shopping for a gallery or exhibition space. Some place appropriate that I can kind of take over the space too. I’m actually this winter spending more time making the work and worrying about putting it out in the world a little bit later.

After moving from Grand Rapids, what are your initial thoughts on the Madison art scene?
The Chasen Museum has a pretty good collection, and I like their programming so far. And I really like MMOCA’s programming. And there’s lots of spaces that are orbiting around the University. I like seeing stuff that grad students are making and the faculty shows too. So there’s a lot of different art spaces, but I think it’s still lacking with really exciting, creative menus and programming that are independent.

I think this stuff would look best in a shop window on a little stage. Well you know where they put the dummies with all the clothes on them. Or it could work in a gallery. I guess I’m looking for more of a raw space so I can sort of make a mess, I mean not make a mess, but not have to worry about putting a few holes in the walls…