Tag Archives: gallery

Dan Wollmering “Street Beat”

When he did his masters at RMIT Dan Wollmering was a student of Inge King and Vicas Jomantas. In that respect he is a bridge from Melbourne’s high modernism to the present. He has had 40 years of exhibiting sculptures and now that he retired from his teaching career he can concentrates on his sculptural practice.

Dan Wollmering at & Gallery

Dan Wollmering at & Gallery

Wollmering’s exhibition “Street Beat” at & Gallery consists of three different series of sculptures and an earlier cast aluminium work On the Horizon (2010). This work harks back to earlier works of Wollmering. All the sculptures build on earlier works but in On the Horizon the small lime green hemispheres that indent and bubble on the surface becomes the central image in his most recent wall works.

The exhibition opening was well attended late on Saturday afternoon. & Gallery specialises in sculpture. It is a couple of glass walled commercial spaces in the ground floor of a new building on the corner of Spencer and Little Bourke streets, off Water Tank Place, a private lane in Melbourne.

The work on exhibition is inspired during two art residencies in Malaysia sponsored by the architectural firm Hajjis Kasturi. You will not see any quotes to buildings in KL or Penang but reference to architectural constructs in modern sculpture. The modernity of Malaysia, the modern federated state full of multi-story modern architecture. This series of stand alone hard edge modern sculptures. Penaga (1.2) is the intersection of a circle and rectangle, an alternative resolution to a classic architectural issue. Painted fabricated steel in lime green, orange and fire engine red; except for the largest Function Fit 1.2 which is fabricated painted plywood.

The jetty series of wall works are assemblies of aluminium mesh, galvanised steal and various timbers. Titles, including Incense Jetty, Curry Jetty and Egg-tart Jetty have a more obvious Malaysian reference. These constructions reminded me of the bricolage make-do that fill in for modern unified designs and hark back to Mondrian’s early abstract Pier and Ocean series.

Attention was paid to the exhibition display with two groups of Wollmering’s wall works exhibited on painted large gray and large orange rectangles.



Galleries want to be able to run as a business. The public want a gallery with a consistent style and quality of exhibitions. And artists want a gallery to be a dynamic place that will represent them. A really good gallery will do all three. Christine Abrahams Gallery, one of Melbourne’s most established commercial galleries, is advertising to employ a new director to work with gallery owner and director, Guy Abrahams. But this blog entry, typical of my interests, is not about one of Melbourne’s established galleries, rather it is about a small, alternative gallery.

696 specialize in street art, graphic art and illustration. There is a small rental space gallery at the back of the shop is excellent for graphic arts and a courtyard, the Yard, for other events, weather permitting. I haven’t seen the Yard yet, but Paul, a regular at many gallery openings, has raved to me about it. But 696 is more than just a rental space gallery. It is a shop/gallery, selling t-shirts, badges, books, magazines, spray paint etc.; a good business model for a small gallery.

It is a dynamic gallery; there are events almost every week. Toby and Melika, who run 696, are hard-working women who are enthusiastic about the artists that they represent. And they are able to represent artists, in a small way, because they have a small stock room. Their email newsletter is informative with more content than just the next exhibition opening. They promote the artists that they represent even if they are exhibiting in another gallery. They ran a stall at the Sydney Road Street Party; they are very active and involved.

Outside the sidewall of 696 has a large street art mural by about 18 artists: Que, Meggs, Vocal, Pierre, Love Ariel, Ears, Seldom, Nicole, Satta, Sicks One, Deam, I Like Things, Scale, Pep, Scotty & Happy. It is a tight collaboration with each artist‘s style and images carefully worked into the overall composition. The panels in the windows change every month or so, the current ones up are done by Mr Cornish and Rachee Renee. Further down the alleyway Pav has done an enormous and subtle tromp l’oeil paste-up of an alleyway with signs, posters and graffiti. Enormous and subtle is a rather impressive achievement.

What makes it an exciting place is that artists meet there, dropping off art or just dropping in, making it a dynamic place. Pierre Lloga has had two exhibitions at the gallery in the last year. I met Jon Beinart there by accident; prior to that I had exchanged a few emails with him when I mentioned him in my blog. Pav Arts described it as the “696 community” in a recent email to me. Toby and Melika have created more than a small shop/gallery.

Famous When Dead

Last night (6/6/08) I went to the end of construction and unofficial opening of the Famous When Dead, Melbourne’s newest gallery space. It was a grand affair with a huge spread of wine and nibbles, an acoustic guitarist playing in the corner and a video crew filming. I felt a bit underdressed in my Andy Warhol t-shirt and cargo pants but I this had far exceeded my expectations. There I was keeping it real with a glass of red wine and shrimp canapé.

JD Mittman is the director of Famous When Dead. J.D. Mittman has had a long involvement in Melbourne’s stencil art scene, starting with organizing the Melbourne Stencil Festival in 2004. I had previously reviewed exhibitions of street art, Urban Art Agenda #1 at Shed 4 of the Docklands organised by JD Mittman. JD told me that he had taken my comments about the location and hanging of that exhibition seriously; I probably wasn’t the only one to make such comments. Famous When Dead is the result.

Famous When Dead is a street front, white-walled, converted shop gallery specializing in stencil art. The gallery is located in Victoria St. West Melbourne, a block up from the Victoria market. It has all of the components of a serious commercial gallery: two rooms, a professional hanging system, track lighting and seriously excellent art.

The art is fantastic, some of the best stencil art that I have ever seen from both local and international artists. There were familiar works by HaHa. Amid so many excellent work, the large canvas by Brisbane artist Guz, ‘Love is a four-letter word’ stood out. It wasn’t the most technically brilliant of all the art but it was the most beautiful, with a bikini clad angel amidst a pattern of roses.

To use the term ‘street art’ to describe this work appears wrong, the stencil work is so fine and the art so well presented, that it is a long way from the street. And not all the artists exhibited would call themselves street artists. I spoke to Ralf Kempken who said that he had been working with stencils long before the current fashion. But Kempken’s urban architectural theme in the Coates Building Multiplied into an endless, modernist grid did not look out of place. Many of the works had an urban theme from Joey’s Vinegar Girl to Kenji Nakayama’s Concrete Jungle. And there were the paintings of Reko Rennie-Gwybilla with their strong themes of justice for aboriginal Australia. So for reasons of technique and content I would still want to call it ‘street art’.

I hope that Famous When Dead succeeds as a stencil art gallery. There are other galleries in Melbourne specialising in, or regularly showing, stencil and street art but Famous When Dead is trying to set a higher standard in both art and gallery. I like ambition, aspiring for high quality is admirable, and that is what JD Mittman is doing with Famous When Dead.

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