Explore Kenosha's lively visual arts scene
Your tour guide: Melanie Hovey, Director of Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace, Inc.
Sleep in a little this morning--it's going to be a busy day! For an arts tour perfect by car or bicycle, begin your day at Harborside Common Grounds (5159 Sixth Ave.). With a gorgeous harbor view, Common Grounds serves up a light menu with rotating art exhibits by regional artists. It's not unusual to see folks carrying their beverages from room to room, viewing the many works of art as if they were in a gallery rather than a cafe.
By 11 a.m., it's time to head over to Lemon Street Gallery (4601 Sheridan Rd.), an artists' collective featuring the work of its 65 artist-members. Free and open to the public, you'll find everything from paintings and sculpture to pottery, glass and jewelry. The first indication that you've arrived at an artsy place are the two 4' x 13' mosaics on the outside of the building. These were created in 2003 as an artist and community collaboration funded by the Wisconsin Arts Board and Friends of Lemon Street Gallery. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2009, Lemon Street is now taking the lead in an economic development initiative that has brought a wide variety of amenities to the Union Park neighborhood.
Lemon Street Gallery has fostered arts-district development through its KUPP initiative. Of particular interest, Kenosha Union Park Project will bring monumental public sculpture to Union Park, (7th Avenue and 46th Street), as well as neighborhood WiFi beginning in June 2010. Full Sail I, by nationally recognized sculptor Bruce Niemi, will be in Union Park from Spring 2010 through 2012.
Other creative businesses in the KUPP are Peacetree Originals, Lakeshore Used Books and Rose's Bead Haven. If you are visiting Kenosha on a Second Saturday of the month you are in for a special treat. KUPP, Harborside and Downtown shops and galleries are open 6 p.m.-9 p.m. with special artist's receptions, live music and fun activities.
Next up at noon is the Pollard Gallery (518 56th St.), which adjoins the historic Rhode Center for the Arts. George Pollard is an internationally recognized portrait artist whose commissions include celebrities from presidents to movie stars. His wife, Nan, is an illustrator famed for creating the face of Curious George and so many children's book characters that you'll fondly remember. Along with the permanent exhibit of the Pollard family's work, you will find rotating exhibits by area artists and a gift shop.
On your way to Anderson Arts Center, enjoy lunch and live entertainment at our outdoor European-style market. From art to zucchini, Harbor MarketPlace of Kenosha makes Saturdays a festive time. Kids can play in the park as you shop for artwork like paintings or jewelry, fresh produce, handmade soaps and spices. You can even bring home some gourmet doggy biscuits!
Anderson Arts Center (121 66th St.) is part of the historic Kemper Center. The Anderson mansion was donated to Kenosha County with the condition that it be used as an art gallery. The grounds are on Lake Michigan, making it a lovely setting for outdoor events, which it regularly hosts. Inside, you'll find juried and invitational exhibitions, a wonderful gift shop and a west wing devoted to student artwork from Kenosha's K-12 schools. If making this a part of your trip, you'll want to call ahead as the Arts Center is closed between exhibits (phone 262-653-0481). Their hours are generally Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Across the street to the north, take a short walk to Kemper Center's main campus. Tucked between two buildings on the northeast end, you will find hidden a monumental mosaic (12 by 30 feet) designed by 60-year-old Kady B. Faulkner in 1962 and completed by the artist over the next two years. Faulkner was an art instructor at the then-girl's boarding school. The mosaic is located on an outside wall of the former bakery building, which was operated by the resident nuns.
Created atop a plank between two ladders, the Faulkner Building mosaic was a tribute to the Sisters' good work. Its location in a narrow alleyway prohibits viewers from backing up far enough to take in the entire piece at once. Thankfully, a part of it juts out, and much of it can be seen from an angle. The mosaic mural depicts the story of wine and altar bread, which the nuns made in the bakery to support themselves. You will find everything from wheat fields to vineyards in the mosaic, which is made of many thousands of clay tiles, marbles and pebbles. See if you can find the choo-choo train!
Well, that's enough for today! Take a stroll on the Kemper grounds, or pull up a park bench and enjoy Lake Michigan. If you have time to stay an extra day, pick up the Kenosha Public Art Guide (available at Lemon Street Gallery, the tourist information center and a number of local businesses) and take a driving tour across Kenosha City and County.
Note: This article is one of two Day Trip stories about Kenosha. For an alternate trip that focuses on local history, read this article by Meridith Jumisko of the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.