Monthly Archives: January 2016

femfest 2016: meet yessica, illustrator

“Art is how we decorate space; music is how we decorate time.”

Riverwest FemFest combined both. Atop Company Brewing on Saturday and Sunday of FemFest, 20+ artists and activists came together in a pop-up gallery space to share their heart-fueled and purposeful paintings, drawings, 3D works, video installations, and more.

Among them was Yessica Jimenez, the Milwaukee born and raised artist behind Xeroine Illustration. For FemFest, she created a series of five portraits featuring Milwaukee musicians Fivy, Siren, Zed Kenzo, Queen Tut, and Chakara Blu. We met up before FemFest began, and I can hardly believe after an empowering, love-filled, authentic, weird, wonderful weekend that it’s already over. The support and significant ripple effects will go on—especially since FemFest ended up raising $10,000 for Date Rape Awareness Milwaukee!

This piece was one of five in Yessica's FemFest series. Contact her to purchase a print, and check out our Q&A with Zed Kenzo here.

This piece was one of five in Yessica’s FemFest series. Contact her to purchase a print, and check out our Q&A with Zed Kenzo here.

People With Panache: How do you feel making your first FemFest series? What do you get out of this? Continue reading

femfest 2016: meet melissa, artist and poster creator

Melissa Johnson and I met at 88Nine/Stone Creek Coffee and were able to find a corner tucked away from the 414 Music Live session with Allen Coté. (After the interview, I stayed to hear Jack Garratt’s live recording in the 414 Room; it was incredible!) Today, Melissa had her “last first day” at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). She’s in her final semester as an integrated studio arts major, which, I learned, means she isn’t limited to just one medium.Melissa Johnson

Here’s her little slice of Riverwest FemFest 2016: Continue reading

femfest 2016: meet zed kenzo, hip-hop artist

“FemFest is important to me because women are often undermined, ignored, ridiculed and insulted as both people and artists,” Zed Kenzo told 88Nine, Milwaukee’s local radio station that loves to lift up our homegrown artists. They caught up with 11 Riverwest FemFest performers to share what the Fest means to them—and everyone’s answers made it pretty clear that this powerhouse of a hip-hop artist isn’t alone. “We are way more under scrutiny and not given the opportunities that our male counterparts are given simply because we are female. FemFest gives us a platform to unite as artists, use our power combine our energy and take a stand that says, ‘Yes, we can do the same thing as you, we are talented, we are independent and we are not playing around.’ I’m simply grateful that it exists and feel honored to be a part of it.”

Zed Kenzo and I talked last night after she finished up an all-ages show at the Jazz Gallery in Riverwest, where Friday night’s FemFest shows will happen. It’s a meaningful effort to include more venues even for the non-21-year-olds in a music festival all about celebrating strong, diverse, inspiring women. I know teenage me would have l-o-v-e-d FemFest.

Suggestion: Hit play on this song and read a little more from Zed Kenzo before her show on Saturday night.

Zed Kenzo 02 People With Panache: How did you get involved in the Milwaukee music scene after coming back from LA?

Zed Kenzo: I was asked by my friend Kiran, a.k.a. Q the Sun, to join the bill for an all-womyn lineup for a show called “Festivale Fatale” where I met Queen Tut , Fivy and Cat Ries of NO/NO and Pleasure Thief (her solo artist name). From that point on, other individuals in the Milwaukee music scene kept asking me to join bills. Continue reading

femfest 2016: meet treccy, singer in mortgage freeman and ruth b8r ginsburg

There are few things more inspiring than a woman who recognizes her own power and individuality and wants to share them with the world.

Thank you to Treccy Marquardt-Thomas for being this woman—and the first to be featured in our Riverwest FemFest miniseries this week leading up to the Fest on January 21-24, 2016.

I’m Alysse’s roommate, Jessica. Alysse and I were at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s live FemFest music preview when we came up with the idea to do as many FemFest-focused interviews as we could the week of the event. Riverwest FemFest is Milwaukee’s four-day fundraiser and music festival “celebrating talented and strong women through music, art and poetry.” So tonight, I was honored to spend time with Treccy—a musician in both Mortgage Freeman and Ruth B8r Ginsburg—to talk about her music-making and kick off the series. Treccy is smart, warm and, like the rest of us, beyond excited for the weekend to get here.by Kelly Marquardt Continue reading

meet bethany: revolutionizing education in milwaukee (escuela verde series 03)

Bethany Vannest

“I’ve always felt the education system is unfair the way that we assess students,” Bethany says. “I’ve always worked in Milwaukee, and I wanted to teach here. It’s made me look at the education system and just say, ‘What’s “wrong” with MPS? What’s “wrong” with students in Milwaukee?’ Nothing inherently—a lot of students have been traumatized! Trauma totally affects the way brains take in learning, affects the ability to sit in a desk and feel like you can ace this test, affects the ability to sit in this chair and listen for 60 minutes.”

Today, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In workplaces and churches, community centers and homes—blogs, too!—we all honor and continue his quest toward justice, equality and peace.

Just as I was writing this, I got a text from my boyfriend, James:

“I want to live in a world that is not controlled by money and greed; where kids can play in the streets and be safe; where individuals can work in collaboration and help one another rather than fighting over political, racial, religious and monetary differences; where we use resources given to us thoughtfully, rather than destroying the one planet we have.”

I want to live in that world with him. (Don’t you? We’re getting chickens!)

Well, this wasn’t random. Last night, I returned from a retreat for the Food Leader Certificate Program, in which I am a mentor. The weekend was about turning dreams into plans (and task lists), organizing communities to meet common goals, and servant leadership. And changing the world starting with changing ourselves. To me, it was bliss and filled my heart and mind with ideas and hope. It also seems like an effortless transition to MLK Day. Continue reading