Friday, October 26, 2018

The Ski Club | Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the High Desert

From the copy at High Desert Test Sites:

High Desert Test Sites is pleased to present an event by The Ski Club, a contemporary art space in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This event—curated by Mark Klassen, director of The Ski Club, and Jesse McLean of Microlights Cinema—will present works by nineteen Midwest-based artists between three different sites in Wonder Valley, California. The exhibition will be on view October 27–28 with a poetry reading and film screening slated for October 27 at the Palms Restaurant.

Artists include: Matt Cook, Laura Davis, Richard Galling, Alex Herzog, Thaddeus Kellstadt, Mark Klassen, Chris Larson, John Riepenhoff, Edra Soto, Oli Watt and Allison Yasukawa. Jesse McLean of Microlights Cinema will screen works by: Zachary Epcar, Sky Hopinka, Nazli Dinçel, Alee Peoples + Mike Stoltz, Beny Wagner and Michael Robinson.

Sited artworks:
Saturday, October 27th, 11:00 am–5:00 pm
Ironage Rd. and HubbyCo Far East

Sunday, October 28th, 11:00 am–2:00 pm
Ironage Rd. and HubbyCo Far East

Saturday, October 27th, 8:00 pm
The Palms Restaurant

Driving Maps, directions, event information, and ephemera will be available Saturday, October 27 at the HDTS HQ at Sky Village Market Place, 7028 Theater Road, Yucca Valley, CA 92284, from 9:00 am–1:00pm.

Curator’s Statement:
In 2014 The Ski Club opened with an exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist and cofounding organizer of High Desert Test Sites, Lisa Anne Auerbach, who that same year, showed her work American Megazine, at the Whitney Biennial.

In those days, The Ski Club was heated by a small space heater built into the wall that was woefully inadequate for the harsh Milwaukee winters. When temperatures dropped below freezing—which is prone to happen five months of the year—the two, eight-foot, single-pane windows at the entrance become a canvas for crystal nucleation as the subzero temperatures outside collided with the accumulated humidity inside produced by breathy musings of viewers and artists. The window frost would grow to a thick sheet of ice, making it impossible to see any detail of the Riverwest neighborhood outside. But it’s no bother to Milwaukeeans. They don’t mind watching their breath and wearing gloves to drink an ice-cold beer—just think ice fishing.

It takes some humility to live in a place like Milwaukee. Not only can the weather be cold, dark, and bleak but our geographic location often deems us a “flyover state”. It’s as if we have a crystalized nucleation dome over us. But Midwesterners don’t much care—it’s this insulation that creates a uniquely rich space to work.

High Desert Test Sites (HDTS) is a nonprofit organization based in Joshua Tree, California that supports immersive experiences and exchanges between artists, critical thinkers, and general audiences. HDTS is dedicated to challenging preconceptions of art and "learning from what we are not."In this instance, The Ski Club represents “what we are not.” Joshua Tree bears little resemblance to Milwaukee—culturally, climatologically, and visually—however, The Ski Club and HDTS are similar in that they both work within the context of extremes.

Joshua Tree’s blistering heat, and dry, dusty environment can be fatal if ignored, just as the cold, lake-effect wind chill of Milwaukee cannot be ignored. These extreme environments are what connect us. HDTS looks to “insert art directly into a life, a landscape, or a community where it will sink or swim based on a set of criteria beyond that of art world institutions and galleries.” This resonates with the audience, to see artworks that are sited within an actual place, environment, and landscape—this is not an incubator.

This exhibition, curated by The Ski Club director, Mark Klassen, brings together a group of artists for a High Desert Test Sites event on the far western edge of Wonder Valley, California. This diverse group of Midwest-based artists make work ranging from painting to sculpture, poetry and filmmaking. They are connected through their relationship to The Ski Club programming and they will all be exhibiting work in an environment that is completely foreign to them, except for its familiarity as extreme and fringe.

[editor's note: "eastern," not "western" edge of Wonder Valley]