In Arts & Entertainment

Milwaukee artist Gabe Lanza likes to keep his art fun

Freelance illustrator and painter Gabe Lanza is a Milwaukee native, but his boundaries have been expanding beyond Brew City for a while now and some of his most recent clients have international reputations.

From hometown faves like Bella's Fat Cat to Harley-Davidson, Klement's Sausage to Utne Reader, INC. magazine, The Progressive and Washington's City Paper, Lanza's colorful, evocative work is traveling far and wide.

He's had shows across the country but the latest is right here at home.

"Gabe Lanza -- New Works" will open on Gallery Night, Friday, July 23, at Grava Gallery, 1224 E. Brady St., and will comprise new abstract and figurative paintings that draw inspiration from the bright, often cartoonish images that adorned toys and commercial packaging in the 1950s and '60s, Lanza says.

"The show is all new work. Bright, flat compositions, which pull color reference from old tin toys and packaging. Robots always seem to be the focus even when I tell myself not, too. However, expect some "lounge" looks and robot Mexican wrestler heads."

Lanza, who earned a BFA in Illustration in 1999 at MIAD and studied in 1997 at New York's Parsons School of Design, likes to keep his work varied, he says.

"I am a freelance illustrator and fine artist," he says on his Web site. "My talents as an artist are not restricted to size or medium used. I love hand drawing to express my ideas and prefer traditional sketches to express ideas and concepts before moving on to final production."

But, in the end, Lanza says, he wants to enjoy what he's doing. And it is that infectious enjoyment that makes his work such a joy to experience.

"My favorite part of any painting, as well as the most time consuming, is hand painting all the outlines. I just get a kick out of it, almost therapeutic. There is no deep meaning to my work. I draw and paint for fun. There are just too many goof-ball ideas, people and dreams out there to stop what your doing and try to make sense of it all."

"Gabe Lanza -- New Works" will be on view at Grava (414-277-8228) through Aug. 28, 2004.

A complete schedule of Gallery Night events and a list of participants can be seen here.

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