Gallery Exhibition: “Phoenix from the Ashes”

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 2:31pm

Phoenix from the Ashes is a unique partnership between Madison Parks, Madison Arts Commission, and Wisconsin Urban Wood transforming local ash wood into works of art.

The Playhouse Gallery at the Overture Center of the Arts is proud to present Phoenix from the Ashes exhibition featuring work by renowned local artists selected by the Madison Arts Commission. As ash trees, destined to die due to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, were felled by the City Parks, much of the wood was transported to Wood Cycle of Wisconsin, an urban wood supplier and maker in Oregon, Wisconsin. There the wood was kiln dried, milled, and distributed to local nonprofits, high schools for class instruction, and artists for sculptures and installations.

Thirteen artists take inspiration from the recent devastation of these ash trees and demonstrate their artistic possibilities for the reuse of urban wood. The exhibition will feature the work from: Eric Adjetey Anang, Gene Delcourt, Thomas Ferrella, Aaron Granat, Roald Gunderson, Richard Judd, Aaron Laux, Tom Loeser, Paul Morrison, Andrea Oleniczak & Taylor Kurrie, Sylvie Rosenthal, and Katherine Steichen Rosing.

“The Phoenix from the Ashes project is a great example of the power of arts-based civic engagement to be a catalyst for deeper conversations about issues impacting our community. I hope that the final exhibition and opening programming help Madison residents become more informed and engaged in the process of forming the best urban forestry policies to ensure a healthy, diverse urban tree canopy throughout our city, for generations to come," stated Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Aaron Laux reflected on his experience as an artist for the show, “Working on the ‘Phoenix from the Ashes’ project over the past year has been an emotional experience for me. As a woodworker, outdoorsman and lover of the natural world, I had assumed that there would always be ash trees in our Wisconsin cities and forests. But now, with the outbreak of the emerald ash borer infestation, all American ash species are threatened. It breaks my heart to realize that this could be one more loss to add to the mountain of lost things that my daughter will miss out on in her lifetime.”

The exhibition will be held in the Playhouse Gallery on the lower level of the Overture Center for the Arts runs from August 24 through October 27, 2019.

The public is invited to the Opening Reception of Phoenix from the Ashes on September 6, 2019 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Rotunda Stage of the Overture. Programing will include: the debut screening of Aaron Granat’s documentary film short, “From the Ashes,”, City Forester Marla Eddy discussing the impact of the ash borer in Madison and what is new in our City’s urban tree policies, Ho-Chunk artist and scholar Tom Jones talking about the cultural impact of the dwindling ash population is having on Ho-Chunk basket makers, Paul Morrison speaking about the potential of incorporating plans for reuse into the urban tree life cycle, and ending remarks by Tom Linfield from Madison Community Foundation. Fresh Hot Press and OM Villages artisan market with products made and inspired from local ash as well as prints available for purchase.

Madison Parks
Since 2008, the City of Madison has been working on how to mitigate the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). A taskforce was created to coordinate assessing the EAB threat, planning various response strategies, reviewing the latest research and acting to mitigate impacts on our tree canopy, ensuring public safety, protecting our environment and containing costs.

Aaron Granat-Filmmaker
Aaron Granat is a local filmmaker and instructs media production for the UW-Madison Communication Arts Department. For many years as the staff video producer for the UW Division of the Arts, Aaron has specialized in documenting artists and their methods from a vast array of disciplines. His work has been shown locally at the Wisconsin Film Festival, the Madison Public Library, the Art and Literature Laboratory, The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 100State, and the Artisan Gallery (Paoli). In 2014, Aaron was awarded a Blink Grant to create a multimedia public exhibition at Union Corners.

Tom Jones-Ho-Chunk Artist & Scholar
Tom Jones is a professor of photography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. He’s has co-authored People of the Big Voice and For the Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw. Jones’ photographic work examines identity and geographic place with an emphasis on the experience of American Indian communities. He continues to work on an ongoing documentation project on traditional black ash baskets of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.

Paul Morrison-Wood Cycle of Wisconsin
Paul Morrison is the owner of The Wood Cycle and co-founder of Wisconsin Urban Wood; the nation's largest organization of arborists, sawmills and custom woodworking businesses aimed at using wood from the urban landscape. Paul also recently authored the book Tree to Table; Emergence of the Urban Wood Movement, which will be available to purchase at the opening.

Madison Community Foundation
Madison Community Foundation works with individuals, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations to enhance common good through philanthropy. Phoenix from the Ashes is a unique partnership between Madison Parks, Madison Arts Commission, and Wisconsin Urban Wood transforming local ash wood into works of art.

OM Tiny House Village
Occupy Madison, Inc. endeavors to create a more humane and sustainable world. Our tiny homes and wood products include re-purposing existing boards as well as using Urban Wood lumber. This fall, OM Tiny Home Village will celebrate five years as a neighborhood model for safe and sustainable housing with dignity.
Noah Laroia-Nguyen and Brooke Leland-Fresh Hot Press

Fresh Hot Press is a student run printmaking collective which fosters community and interaction between students, faculty, and visiting artists at UW-Madison. The organization supports printmaking education through exhibitions, exchanges, and fundraising for professional printmaking conferences.

Phoenix from the Ashes is generously supported by a major grant from Madison Community Foundation’s Year of Giving with additional funds from the Madison Arts Commission and Overture Center for the Arts. The Phoenix from the Ashes exhibition is one of the many events that is part of the Year of the Environment a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Nelson Institute and Earth Day.

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