RawDeal_ArtShowBy Matthew Gundrum —

Menomonie is a haven for artists. The quaint, scenic, and idyllic landscape surrounding the town is simplistic yet inspiring. It is no wonder, then, that the art scene flourishes from passion exuded by local artists.

This passion was most evident at the Raw Deal when September’s art show, called WALLS, came to a close with a celebratory reception.

It was during this month that the work of Mel Georgakopoulos and Mike Tarr was showcased to the public. Although their work is starkly different in nature, the two, who happen to be locals and friends, decided that the time was right to show the public their recent efforts.

Georgakopoulos showed landscape sketches from his upcoming mural that will be created in Menomonie.

“I am, in general, not a landscape artist,” he said. Georgakopoulos typically draws portraits and busts. The radical switch from portrait to landscape was a prompted by an urge for self-growth.

“If you’re always trying new things and taking challenges, there’s anxiety, but it’s a better experience because you’re learning and changing.”

The decision to create the mural was made during an exchange between Georgakopoulos and Jason Davis, owner of The Market and Waterfront. The conversation was brief and Davis had little to offer for artistic suggestions. Georgakopoulos had, essentially, complete creative control.

“It’s scary when you have no parameters,” he said.

The area in question is an 80’ x 11’ space in a courtyard across the street from the Raw Deal.

But what made the show unique was the friendly contrast provided by Georgakopoulos’ partner in art, Mike Tarr.

Tarr’s work acts as a commentary on structure, space, and scale. “Those are the three things that are always there,” he said.

He practices this through the depiction of geometric patterns in three-dimensional spaces. His meticulous attitude is what drove him to adopt this particular style.

“I like to measure, I like being sort of precise but I also like striking this balance between precision and the handmade,” he said.

Tarr is also the owner of Mike’s Art Supply on Main and Broadway streets in Menomonie. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 1995 with a BFA in ceramics. Mike began his employment at the art store in 1996 and aside from a break for grad school, Tarr has been involved in the store’s affairs ever since.

September’s art show may have been a display of two, stylistically dissimilar styles but it was the artists’ passion for their work and their desire to share it that fostered a harmonious, creative space.

Artist: Mike Tarr

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