John Riepenhoff and Jake Palmert are proud to run the only commercial gallery in Milwaukee that is committed to conceptual art practices. Riepenhoff opened Green Gallery in 2004, and was joined by Palmert, his first cousin, just two years ago. For a few weeks, New Yorkers can sample their quirky program, a mix of Midwesterners and international artists, while they occupy the second-floor space of 47 Canal with a charged schedule of rapidly changing shows.
The first, featuring Milwaukee painter Peter Barrickman, opened on Tuesday night and closes Saturday. His engrossing canvases combine collage, drawing and painting with surprising results, sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative. Note Riepenhoff’s distinctive hang of the painting in the office, part of the back of which is visible from the gallery because it’s hanging partly in the doorway.
On Saturday, Milwaukee abstract painter Nicholas Frank takes over for an undetermined length of time, followed by the “Museum of Milwaukee Art,” opening date TBD, which will be, as Palmert told A.i.A., “like a Midwest rummage sale, with artists’ work we brought with us as well as other work we’re gathering while we’re on studio visits in New York.” The rummage sale will be installed by the proprietors of 47 Canal, Margaret Lee and Oliver Newton. Artists who have worked with the gallery like Michelle Grabner, Scott Reeder and Spencer Sweeney are likely to be included. Riepenhoff and Palmer promise a flexible schedule of other programming, such as performances and talks, information on which will be updated on their website, the greengallery.biz.
Having met Lee and Newton due to some passive overlap between their artist rosters and then having been assigned by chance to neighboring booths at an art fair, the two galleries have taken the relationship to the next level.
While they admit that a clientele for adventurous contemporary art has been slow to grow in Milwaukee, Riephenoff and Palmert have, through many such chance meetings, found themselves at home with other galleries that operate more like artists.