ART IS FOR LOVERS
Based out of Milwaukee, in the heart of Bronzeville, Art Is For Lovers is establishing itself as a vehicle for creative expression. As a newcomer to any city, you'll typically find yourself checking out the tourist attractions, the "best the city has to offer" as you'll often hear. These attractions dominate the attention of visitors based on their glamour, location, and reputation. They are put on display as "finished products" to best serve as a face to the city and with good reason. Cities want to be known for things - things to identify with and be proud of.
But the "best" of a city can never really be in one place. Often what you really see and experience is a taste, a sample tray that is put out week after week. This is the perception most cities want you to be drawn towards; if you want art this is what it looks like and this is where it's found (with an 'approved' stamp). What you don't hear about are the experimenters, the creatives, and the talented individuals that represent other parts of the city. When you walk into Art Is For Lovers Gallery, you aren't walking into what you automatically think of as a gallery; you're walking into another slice of the city that represents a community. A community driven by those who represent it best.
After linking up with Karl (owner of AI4L) via Twitter, we decided it was high time to pay them a visit.
Who are you?
I like to consider myself an artist but somedays I'm not sure who I am.
What is 'Art Is For Lovers'?
AI4L is an art gallery in the heart of Bronzeville, the welcoming title represents the community it brings in. We have art work from emerging artists to established artists. It's also a space to come and chill, sketch, and do homework. There's free coffee and the fridge always keeps water bottles for the public. When people visit I always give them a history lesson of the area, I also mention the other family-owned businesses in the community worth checking out. It's our first year and I know a lot of people all over the world so I expect a larger community as time goes on.
Why open a gallery?
Initially that was not the plan, my then partner and I simply wanted to do what we've done before, which was throw a pop up gallery in a do-able space. It was to honor someone the community lost as well as shed some light on the graffiti culture. It became a situation where it was like we can adopt this baby (Gallery), even more important we saw that it needed to be adopted. I personally felt like this art community, this street culture I indulge in had no representation from the right groups of peoples. We were not fully prepared to embark on such a huge responsibility but I'm honored to say this child is growing. It's healthy and loves the attention it's receiving from the community. It takes a village.
We initially got turned down by a gallery who's unfortunately no longer around.
To answer that question more, Art brought to you by people from the culture I'm in is important (this has NOTHING to do with your "race"). In my city too many organizations and companies exploit what I stand for and believe in. It's time someone that actually lives this life style they portray, brings you it. If we weren't the most segregated city in America it probably wouldn't anger me this much. This city needs this gallery, the conversations being held in this space go further then paintings and photography. We talk about how to protect ourselves from culture vultures, people learn things they did not know because those running programs won't tell them. Lots of these art programs keep people oppressed. At our art shows everyone is comfortable and happy because this event was presented to them by someone in their culture, not a vulture in a suit and tie. Or they simply appreciate what this culture has to offer so they come through and support, it gets way deeper than that.
What drives you to keep this space open?
Love and culture drive me. Seeing young people go invest in film cameras.
What's in store for the future?
Art and giving back to the community of Bronzeville.
What do you want readers to take away?
As an Art Gallery we love you and in this space you have creative control. You'll be treated equally there is no hate here we have a very diverse community. As an artist I'm very aware of the systematics oppression in this city, I will not act like it doesn't exist to make white artist comfortable.
We invite you all to drop by Art Is For Lovers Gallery, open every Saturday & Sunday 12-5pm.
ART IS FOR LOVERS GALLERY
2228 N. Martin Luther King Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212