Gallery Night Was a Moving Experience for Visitors and Artists Alike

A group of people looking at a painting on a wall

The Council offices were buzzing on the evening of November 3. That’s when the doors opened to the public for a spectacular night of art and conversation at the 2023 Gallery Night. The annual event showcases the work of Wisconsin artists with vision loss who create in a range of media, including oil paint, photography, fiber arts, digital illustration and woodworking.

This year, seven of the eight featured artists were able to join us in person from around the state. Our eighth artist passed away earlier this year, and his family contributed two of his lovely coffee tables to the event. Visitors started streaming in even before the official 5 p.m. start time, and the celebration lasted beyond our 8 p.m. closing time.

Two people exploring art displayed on a table

“Gallery Night 2023 was a great success!” says Executive Director Denise Jess. “The weather cooperated, people were out and about, and we had pre-pandemic numbers of visitors.”

One of those visitors, Kathy Germann, had a reaction to the experience as artful as the objects on display. “The silky-smooth texture of the wood carving, the deep hues of the blue and perfect stitches of the fabric art, the precision and details of the tied fly, and the Mona Lisa-esque expression captured in the painting were highlights,” Kathy says.

“The artists’ statements and video interviews provided insights for me as a sighted person,” Kathy adds. “It’s an essential reminder why, as a culture, we need to provide more spaces, support and opportunities for artistic expression of all kinds, from all people.”

Two people looking at photographs on a wall

“I attended Gallery Night for the first time,” says first-time contributing artist Judi Cihowiak, whose knitted hat and shawl were on display. “I didn’t know what to expect. It was a wonderful evening…. Bottom line, the people and the art were amazing. I highly recommend it.”

“It was a wonderful evening,” echoes Jim Frome, another first-time contributor whose wooden fish carvings and tied flies were part of the exhibit. Jim found the process leading up to the exhibition satisfying as well. “I found myself spending quality time selecting my artwork, recalling fond memories and discussing with friends what I might enter,” Jim says. “My hat off to the Council for a job well done!”

A group of people viewing a video on a wall-mounted monitor

In addition to the exhibits, the vision rehabilitation and access technology classrooms were open for demonstrations. This was something that caught attendee Maggie Groshen’s attention. “I really thought the art gallery was a very well organized and creative way to show the community how people who are blind and visually impaired can contribute to the art world,” she says.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase both tools and skills that our artists have developed to do what they love, and to further showcase what the Council does on a daily basis,” Denise adds.

Even if you were unable to attend Gallery Night, you can still check out all of the featured pieces and the artist statements in our online Virtual Gallery.

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