University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Beth Stafford

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Jun 29, 2010 
Lynden Sculpture Garden features UWM alumni

Giese's Original River
  Kevin Giese's "Original River"

The first temporary exhibition at the newly opened Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., will feature University of Wisconsin−Milwaukee alumni Linda Wervey Vitamvas (’76 BS Nursing,’06 MA Art, ’07 MFA Art) and Kevin Giese (’92 BFA, ’07 MFA). Giese also is an associate lecturer in UWM’s Peck School of the Arts.

“Inside/Outside: Linda Wervey Vitamvas & Kevin Giese” is part of a series of exhibitions featuring artists working in the gallery and on the grounds. The exhibition will be on view through Aug. 11.

“Inside/Outside” was selected as an inaugural theme to initiate a “dialogue” between the Lynden’s indoor gallery and the environment − both sculpture and nature − beyond its walls. The “Inside/Outside” exhibitions will be interspersed with exhibitions drawn from the Bradley Family Foundation’s collection of small sculptures, paintings and works on paper.

Vitamvas and Giese will lead a tour of the sculpture garden on Sunday, July 25, at 2:30 p.m. The tour will last approximately one hour. This will be the first in a series of artist-led tours at Lynden. The artists will select sculptures in the collection to discuss, and will also talk about their own outdoor installations. The tour is free with day admission to the sculpture garden.

The Lynden Sculpture Garden is open to art and nature lovers of all ages on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to dusk and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Lynden will be closed July 4.

Day membership (which includes access to the gardens and the art collection in the house from noon to 5 p.m. that day) is $9 for adults and $7 for students, seniors and active military (children under 6 free with an adult). Annual memberships are also available. For more information, visit

Linda Wervey Vitamvas

Vitamvas will be showing two large works that bring together a multitude of diminutive ceramic pieces. “Surface Tension,” on view in the gallery, consists of more than 350 glazed porcelain pinch pots on a narrow, 20-foot glass shelf. The pots have the feel of shells that have been collected, stacked, and arranged in an orderly fashion.

“Molecules in a liquid have attractive forces that hold them together, so the surface layer behaves like a thin elastic skin,” Vitamvas observes. “As I rolled the glaze around the inside of each tiny piece I became mesmerized by this phenomenon and obsessed with the phrase describing it, ‘surface tension.’”

Vitamvas will also show several porcelain objects inspired by botanical drawings and the elaborate biological renderings of Ernst Haeckel. “There is a resemblance to form and anatomy that is familiar to me from my medically inspired work,” notes Vitamvas. “There is an uncanny similarity in reproductive form that exists in both the animal and plant kingdoms.”

Vitamvas’s outdoor piece responds to the environment of the sculpture garden and corresponds to her work in the gallery. Instead of a glass shelf, Vitamvas uses a 20-foot I-beam to display small pinch pots made from local clay. This piece echoes the scale and industrial materials of several of the sculptures on site. The pots will not be fired and will disintegrate as they are exposed to the elements, speaking to the transience of their appearance in the sculpture garden. Vitamvas will document the disintegration, creating a permanent record of their existence.

For more information, visit

Kevin Giese

Giese tackles an individual’s complicated relationship to the natural world directly in his outdoor work, “Immigrant.” “Fifteen years ago I discovered the beautiful orange heartwood of mature buckthorn trees,” says Giese. “I quickly learned that they are considered invasive.”

First introduced in this country from Europe in the 1900s, buckthorns – with their elegant curves and small stature – were prized as ornamental trees. Giese has worked with the wood in many forms, from furniture to installation.

The trees for this piece were harvested from the Lynden grounds. “As a naturalist I lament the losses inflicted on our native habitat by these trees. As an artist I am intrigued by the dynamic between their visual beauty, strong resilient characteristics and their pariah status: unwanted, disliked, overlooked…. Ultimately, it is we humans who are the invaders, dominating any landscape we occupy.”

Giese will show a number of earlier works in the gallery. These include “Still Living,” an installation composed of 80 ash strips held under tension – a work that emerged from a dream about building a bamboo fishing pole – and “Original River,” a hollowed-out, riverine tree trunk filled with thousands of quartz pebbles sifted from Mississippi River sands over the course of two years.

For more information, visit

Linda Wervey Vitamvas From Linda Wervey Vitamvas's outdoor piece