A Look Inside The Soul: On The Wing Exhibit Features Sketchbooks From Milwaukee Artists

May 30, 2019

Sketchbooks offer an intimate look at the soul of an artist. An exhibit currently at the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee’s Third Ward is putting some souls on display.

The exhibition features sketchbooks from the gallery's On The Wing Project, which gives sketchbooks and art supplies to Milwaukeeans at the House of Peace community center. The project encourages people to draw in a sketchbook, and for their efforts they are paid $50 for each completed book.

"That was a very important component of the project," says Debra Brehmer, the owner of the Portrait Society Gallery and the founder of the project. 

She continues, "We're going into the community and drawing once a week for an hour. And you know, that's asking people for their time. Even if it's a really valuable thing to do, we are asking them to take it seriously, asking people for their time ... The $50 really says, 'This is of value. You made something really important.' "

Artwork and sketchbooks featured in the exhibit at the Portrait Society Gallery.
Credit Joy Powers

Each sketchbook on display at the gallery is priced at $100, which goes back into funding the project. Artist Pat Hidson, an instructor involved with On The Wing, says the exhibition will definitely surprise those who see it. 

"[There's] a lot of color, a lot of interesting drawings of settings, coming from people's lives ... There's writing interspersed in the books," says Hidson, which can range from poetry to commentary on the world around them.