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Behind the Scenes Education

Community Collaborations: Art and Music with H2O Milwaukee Music

H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens
H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens
Four years ago, in 2011, I was introduced to Dwight and Marquis Gilbert — otherwise known as H2O Milwaukee Music — and the teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum were forever changed.

Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but collaborating with Dwight and Marquis has without a doubt been one of the highlights of my teaching work here at the Museum. Dwight and Marquis are cousins and Milwaukee natives with a deep passion for music. Their organization, H2O Milwaukee Music, creates after-school programs that teach youth music theory, technology, and life skills in a super engaging way: by empowering them to create their own tracks (and even music videos). Back in 2011, I was experimenting with mashing up other disciplines with art, and when I heard about what Dwight and Marquis do, I was so excited to bring them in to experiment with our teen programs.

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Education

Hip-Hop in the Galleries, Inspired by Art

Dwight and Marquis Gilbert demo music-making in front of Jim Campbell, Jim Campbell, Taxi Ride to Sarah's Studio, 2010. LEDs, wire, custom electronics. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Art Society. © Jim Campbell. Photo by the author
Dwight and Marquis Gilbert demo music-making in front of Jim Campbell's Taxi Ride to Sarah's Studio, 2010. LEDs, wire, custom electronics. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Art Society. © Jim Campbell. Photo by the author.

Scratching, turntables, bass, melodies, rhythm. Not exactly vocabulary you’re used to hearing about in an art museum, is it?

In an experiment with H2O Milwaukee Music/the Peace Propaganda Project, an urban music education organization, we put teens, music educators, and video art all together in a gallery to see what would happen.

The mission: Create an original piece of music inspired by Jim Campbell’s Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio (2010).

First, we took 15 minutes to look closely at the piece, which is made up of many small LED lights programmed to blink at certain intervals, creating an unusual video installation (see video below). Teens immediately centered in on one of Campbell’s primary interests: visually representing peripheral vision. Then, with an array of equipment–turntables, laptops, keyboards, subwoofers, speakers–we set about creating a piece of music inspired by the look, mood, and rhythm of Campbell’s piece.

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Behind the Scenes Exhibitions

Behind the Scenes–The Music of the “Wings”

Quadracci Pavilion, Milwaukee Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava.
Quadracci Pavilion, Milwaukee Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Picture this: You’re watching the wings open on the Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion and you realize you hear music… Ever wonder who is behind its creation? I have! The answer is the talented Kris Martinez, Interactive Designer at the Museum. Below, straight from Kris, is everything you ever wanted to know about the music of the Museum.

My name is Kris Martinez, and I am an Interactive Designer at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some of my daily tasks include designing websites for our feature exhibitions, creating interactive installations, and creating television commercials. I also compose musical themes for the Museum.

For the past year, the Museum has featured short musical pieces that play when the wings open and close. This happens three times a day: 10 AM when the Museum opens, noon when the wings flap, and 5 PM (or 8 PM on Thursdays) when the Museum closes. Each arrangement is unique and is inspired by the Museum’s feature exhibition.