NEW Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection Artist Grant Program

Randall E. Baren and Frank Juarez founded their very own contemporary art collection called the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection, which supports artists living and working in the East Coast and Midwest. This collection started in 2015 and continues to explore ways in which they can contribute to our art landscape. Having successful careers they are able to give back to the community’s creative resource – the artists. In addition to acquisitions and sponsorship they have created an artist program aimed to support artists financially for residencies, exhibitions, and lectures.

Randall and Frank are pleased to announce its newest artist grant program – the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection Artist Grant Program. 

Submissions are due December 1, 2017. 

To get your hands on the artist grant paperwork click here.

Randall Frank Interview with Cera

Randall Frank met Cera back in September of 2016 during his visit to Milwaukee for the Black Cat Alley Mural Project. Since then they stayed in touch.

Recently they had the opportunity to spend a couple of day with him in Philly.  

Below is an interview with Cera from 2016.


Photo courtesy of RFCAC

Cera graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2012 with a major in printmaking. He has exhibited across the country in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Houston, and Philadelphia. He’s also exhibited work overseas in South Korea, including solo projects, as well as a collaboration. The artist is currently operating out of Philadelphia.

Randall Frank: I heard that you graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. What was your experience like studying at MIAD? In what ways has it prepared you for life after graduation?

Cera: MIAD was a great experience, and I was extremely lucky to have been accepted. I didn’t think I was going to be able to get into a private art school after my performance in high school, but I took a year at MATC to get my GPA in working order, which helped me get a scholarship that would help open that door to MIAD.

I started with a focus on Communication Design, but quickly realized that I was far more interested in the fine art aspect of the schools program. So, when I switched majors to Printmaking, things kind of took off. Rina Yoon (head of the printmaking department)  was extremely supportive of my interest in graffiti and street art in correlation to illustration and graphic design. She pushed me hard for about 3 years, helped provide me with the opportunity to travel to Seoul for a major collaborative mural project with South Korean pop artist, Dongi Lee.

MIAD prepped me for life after graduation with the idea that, if I consistently challenge myself and I take my art practice seriously, opportunities will eventually present themselves. One thing that I think is really crucial to understand, is that no matter what program you might attend, you’ll only get out of it what you ask for. 

RF: Where are you currently residing?

C: Philadelphia, PA.

RF:: What does Street Art mean to you?

C: Street art has a plethora of definitions, typically varying in definition from artist to artist. My own interpretation of street art has also changed over the years. Initially, it represented a more freeing way of producing artwork, or a less restrictive platform for exhibiting artwork. I never wanted to confine myself to a canvas, or a print on paper, because I believe that the most accessible artwork is artwork made on the streets and for the streets. It’s the difference between a painting hanging in a gallery, to be exhibited to a select group of trained artists and critics, and a painting made on site, about the site, and for the site. I believe that this inherently widens the viewing demographic, or provides a more inclusive way of creating artwork.

RF: We met you in 2016 at the Black Cat Ally Mural Project in Milwaukee as one of the featured artists. How did you hear about the Black Cat Mural Alley Project?

C: I heard about Black Cat through John Kowalczyk (on social media from Milwaukee friends), and I was interested immediately.

RF: What attracted you to submit a proposal for this project?

C: Honestly, I miss the Midwest. My girlfriend and I left Milwaukee for the East Coast about three years ago, and we’ve had the opportunities to work on some great projects across the country, but the more time I spend away from the Midwest, the more I find myself missing the communities there. Sometimes I think that because Milwaukee is a smaller city, it’s built on camaraderie, or communal success. I spent a lot of time making artwork on the streets of Milwaukee, and I feel like since I’ve been gone, I’ve had the opportunity to grow as an artist and maker. I’d like to revisit this site with a whole new library of personal experiences, and create some artwork that reflects this growth.

RF: What was your proposal? What is it about?

C: I actually only sent in reference images of prior works, with the plan of cultivating a batch of drawings to work from. But I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what I’d like to bring to Milwaukee, and I think I’d really like to create something that not only reflects my growth since leaving, but illustrates a sense of appreciation for the place I miss so much. I like the idea of pairing a few portraits, and maybe creating a composite image from multiple faces, multiple skin colors, male, female, maybe something androgynous. Maybe I can help represent the incredibly special aspects of the community, represent Milwaukee’s incredible work ethic, challenges the city has faced in the past, or challenges the city is facing right now. I have my work cut out for me.


Photo courtesy of RFCAC

Photo courtesy of RFCAC

Photo courtesy of RFCAC

RF: What motivates you to create?

C: I make artwork because it helps me understand the world around me. The world isn’t easy, and sometimes things are so complicated that I feel like I can’t breathe. Each piece I make gives me an outlet to address the more difficult questions I might have.

RF: Where do your ideas come from?

C: Ethical injustice. Racial inequality, domestic abuse, political corruption, greed and manipulation, police brutality. I believe that humans can be better to each other, and I think my work reflects my notion of a strong underdog, someone that was designed to lose, but chose instead to succeed. I think it’s the representation of a strong female lead, a she wolf, or a powerhouse of a human being that, despite being told “NO”, has continued to work for their well being and the well being of their family and friends. Anyone that has the strength to wake up and fight for their life every day is beautiful to me.

RF: Please describe your creative process.

 

C: My creative process varies so much from piece to piece. I think the best way to explain this, is to separate my practice into two categories, one in which I work for a client, and the other in which I work for myself.

I’ve found that it’s crucial to be able to adapt to each client’s individual needs and interests, so I might end up doing extensive research and image sourcing to meet those needs. I like to work this way because I can kind of take a back seat, so to speak, and listen and learn about someone else’s story. For example, I’m currently creating a mural for an extremely motivated Vietnamese business owner, and it took us weeks to settle on an image, and it’s become a story we get to tell together. We share experiences and viewpoints in the construction of the image, and it helps us create a piece that neither of us would do on our very own.

My other outlets include wheatpasting, or large posters glued to a surface, and painting derelict or abandoned spaces. This practice can be a little more freeing, or I don’t necessarily have to filter myself as much. For example, I painted a piece a little while back that had some pretty violent aspects depicted. I had created this image of two people, shamelessly, aggressively and violently wrestling with each other over money. I haven’t felt comfortable translating this kind of work into my commissions yet, as I can’t imagine most business owners will be stoked on something heavy like that. So, for now, I have two majorly separate practices at any given time, but I like bouncing around like that

RF: You are now one of several artists selected for this project. Congratulations! What does it feel like to be back in Milwaukee?

C: I used to live a block away from the mural site while I was going to MIAD, so it will really feel amazing to spend some time making artwork in my old neighborhood. I miss the morning coffee and quiche from Collectivo. It was like a ritual.

RF: Do you prefer to be called an artist or muralist? Is there a difference?

C: I probably would lean towards artist, but part of me feels like it doesn’t matter. I love painting murals, but there are always other ways of producing, and I know that I’ll always want to challenge myself to new things. “Artist” kind of covers it all, whereas “Muralist” can be a pigeonhole term, honestly even “Street Art” limits your opportunities, your outcome or process.

RF: What three art making tools are most important to you and why?

C: Computer/tablet for sourcing and altering images. Acrylic spray paints for their consistency in color. Acrylic paints for the colors that spray companies haven’t made yet.

RF: What artists/muralists do you look up to?

C: There are so many, I’ve got a list of 30 to 40 visual artists and musicians that I follow pretty seriously. In the past five or six years, mural artists and street artists have been making some serious waves across the world. Some of my favorite artists are the ones that refuse to take a break. Gaia has been hugely influential for me. He’s unapologetically addressing major ethical issues like gentrification, displacement, divestment. I have a lot of respect for that kind of work, because it brings light to issues that we might not always want to acknowledge. I’m also a huge fan of Tristan Eaton’s portraiture. His fragmentation of typeface, pattern and shapes are so active and playful. Chance The Rapper, from Chicago, spits gospel influenced hip-hop and spoken word that addressed major ethical, cultural and social issues that plague American cities.

RF:: What advice would you give to aspiring artists/muralists and future MIAD graduates?

C: If you have dreams of success, or if you feel like there is a market niche for your practice, do not give up. You might catch flack from peers along the way, but you’re doing exactly what you love. Be honest with the artwork you make, or don’t make your work simply because it’s on trend, because you’ll only be answering to yourself at the end of a long day in the studio. Take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, no matter how daunting or scary they might be. If you’re worried you can’t do something, you’d be surprised what you can push yourself to accomplish.

RF: Where can people connect with you online?

C: I’m probably most active on instagram.com/cera_streetart


About the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection (RFCAC)

The mission of the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection is to foster relationships that support local, regional, and national artists through acquiring art, sponsorship, and providing financial support through our artist grant program. In addition, producing an annual report highlighting selected works and events aimed to expose, educate and engage others to a variety of contemporary art and street art throughout the East Coast and Midwest.


Photos from our visit to Philly

Tony Conrad, Untitled – Appleton, Wisconsin

Untitled

Acrylic on canvas

12″x12″

2016

redstripes-copy

Statement

Tony Conrad’s recent paintings take inspiration from the meticulous patterning characteristic of traditional Persian rugs and fabrics. In their symmetry, arabesque embellishments, and vibrant colors, his paintings epitomize the delicate beauty of these woven textiles. Collaged into the composition, however, are images of bullets—metallic cartridges and round case heads scanned from photographs and printed on thin paper. Conrad juxtaposes gender and cultural stereotypes in complex opposition. The iconic symbols of masculinity he remembers from growing up in rural Wisconsin—trophy stags, hunter silhouettes, and ammunition—are combined with densely layered designs of Persian femininity and domesticity. In placing them in conflict with each other, he also synthesizes them in an ironic harmony with political and sexual implications.

About

Tony Conrad received his MFA degree in painting and drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009.  Currently, Conrad is a Lecturer of Art at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin where he now lives.  Conrad’s work has been exhibited in various solo, group, and invitational exhibitions and has won a number of awards including the Lawrence Rathsack Scholarship and the Frederick R. Layton Fellowship.  Recently, his paintings have been exhibited at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, as well as the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

All images copyright of the artist and used with permission.

2016 Black Cat Alley Grand Celebration – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

img_20160918_0009This weekend Randall and Frank attended the unveiling of the first year of the Black Cat Alley Mural Project in the Eastside of Milwaukee. Both grew up in Milwaukee and have an appreciation for Street Art, artists, and financially supporting a project that brings local talent to create something beautiful. When this opportunity presented itself it was with no doubt that we had to be a part of it. We are looking forward to Year 2 and Year 3 of this project. If you find yourself in Milwaukee, check it out! You will not be disappointed. 

The Black Cat Alley is a new arts destination comprised of outdoor large-scale murals, all in one two-block alley which will serve as an open gallery walkway. It is located between Kenilworth Blvd and Ivanhoe, in the alley between the Oriental Theatre on Farwell Avenue and Colectivo Coffee on Prospect Avenue in the historic East Side neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A dark and quiet space, it is in urgent need of a makeover; in our vision, it will be a beautiful, cultural destination for the public. The alley will become an outdoor gallery, enhancing the local business community by drawing local visitors and tourists.

Click here to hear the artists talk about their work and their experience. 

To learn about the artists click here.

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Black Cat Mural Alley Project – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection is happy to announce its sponsorship for the upcoming Black Cat Mural Alley Project to take place on the east side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin this summer. Milwaukee is dear to their hearts because it is where Randall and Frank met at UW-Milwaukee taking a college bound math class during their senior year in high school in 1993. Since then their careers have taken them to Richmond, Virginia and Sheboygan, Wisconsin; respectively. 

The Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection aims to support Midwest and East Coast artists as well as events that embrace creativity, diversity, and building [art] community. 

To learn about the Black Cat Mural Alley Project visit www.blackcatmke.com.

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Back Alley Steps and Trailer Alley by Sara Willadsen – Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

The Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection is happy to announce its newest acquisition from artist, Sara Willadsen.

Trailer Alley acrylic on canvas 18" x 30" 2010

Trailer Alley
acrylic on canvas
18″ x 30″
2010

Back Alley Steps oil on masonite 24" x 24" 2010

Back Alley Steps
oil on masonite
24″ x 24″
2010

Sara Willadsen makes pictures that satisfy her curiosity in aesthetics and found materials. Combining these articles with reappropriations of her own work allows her to employ past patterns and marks as prompts for new structures and environments. The aggressive process used to construct these secretive spaces is kept in balance with the consciousness to know when to stop.

Sara Willadsen was born in Sheboygan, WI in 1987. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Northern Illinois University in 2014 and her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Graphic Arts from Lakeland College in 2010. Working mainly with paint and various site-specific found materials, Willadsen’s work explores concepts of abstract spaces and structures guided by her surroundings. She has had work featured in New American Paintingsand Fresh Paint Magazine and shows frequently in group exhibitions across the country. Willadsen currently works as a visual artist and freelance designer in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.

Visit Sara’s website to view more work. Click here.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

Untitled Portrait (Houses) by Rafael Francisco Salas, Ripon, Wisconsin

The Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection is happy to announce its newest acquisition from artist, Rafael Francisco Salas. 

Rafael Francisco Salas, Untitled Portrait (Houses), oil on canvas, 22 x 42 inches, 2010

Rafael Francisco Salas, Untitled Portrait (Houses), oil on canvas, 22 x 42 inches, 2010

Rafael Francisco Salas is a Wisconsin based painter. He combines landscape, the legacy of Byzantine iconography, portraiture, architecture and country music into artwork that evokes a strange, rural poetry. It reflects a personal journey of mixed race identity, conflict, beauty and devotion played out on the vast landscapes of rural Wisconsin.

His work has been exhibited in New York City, San Diego, Boston, as well as many venues in the Midwest including The Neville Public Museum, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Dean Jensen gallery, Circa Gallery and Frank Juarez Gallery. His work is represented by Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Salas is also a contributing writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and associate professor of art at Ripon College in Ripon, WI.

Samantha Haring – Chicago, Illinois

Samantha Haring is a Midwest painter from Des Plaines, Illinois. Her work is an intimate meditation on humble objects and the detritus of studio life. Haring uses her studio as subject matter to discuss the nature of loss and the inherent duality of absence and presence.

Haring earned her MFA from Northern Illinois University (2014) and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). She has also studied in Italy at the International School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture; it was there that she fully developed her commitment to light, color, and observational painting. Haring received a scholarship from the Union League Club in Chicago in 2013. Her paintings have been exhibited across the country, most recently in the “Art of Painting” exhibition juried by William Bailey. Haring’s work is included in the Manifest International Painting Annuals 4 and 5; her work will be published in the upcoming 2015 Midwest issue of New American Paintings. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati.

Here is one of seven paintings that are now in the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection. 

Haring_MarlboroRed3

Marlboro Red 3, gouache on panel, 6″x6″, 2012

To see our newest acquisition click here.

Visit samharing.com to check out her work.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

Rafael Salas – Ripon, Wisconsin

Our newest acquisition comes from Rafael Salas, a Wisconsin-based painter, from Ripon. We were first introduced to his work back in 2007 in Milwaukee. We reconnected a couple years later. We found the interplay between realism and abstraction quite captivating. 

Our two acquisitions are studies for paintings called Untitled Interior (Funeral), Untitled (House), Untitled Interior (Living Room), Abstraction Study #1, and Abstraction Study #2.

You can view these paintings at rafaelsalas.com.

To read his statement click here.

rafaelsalas, abstract study II, 2011

rafaelsalas, abstract study I, 2011

All images copyright of the artist and used with permission.

Tony Conrad – Appleton, Wisconsin

Our newest acquisition comes from Tony Conrad, a Wisconsin-based painter, from Appleton. We saw his work on the 365 Artists 365 Days Project and checked out his website. The level of detail, use of space, and sense of intimacy caught our attention. This painting, “Induction #1, is a 17 inch round, acrylic on panel painting. 

We encourage you to visit Conrad at tonyconradart.com.

To read his statement and bio click here.

Induction#1 by Tony Conrad

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All images copyright of the artist and used with permission.