Brian McCormick ponders the question. What accounts for the cluster of artists in Tenney-Lapham? "I bet if you looked at any neighborhood in Madison, you'd find artists," he says. "I bet if you circled any 10 blocks, anybody could put on an art walk if they wanted to."
Perhaps. But on Sunday, June 28, the spotlight is on the near-east-side neighborhood, where the eighth annual Tenney-Lapham Art Walk features 11 artists who are opening their home studios to the public.
The tour's stops will feature, among others, pottery by Jennifer Blasen at 421 N. Baldwin St.; photography and mixed media by Caroline Hoffman at 462 Marston Ave.; and watercolors by Pat Rodell at 406 Sidney St. Organizers Sharon and Bill Redinger will have maps available at their home, 408 Washburn Place, and they also will be displaying, respectively, their watercolors and prints.
A retired preservation architect, McCormick, 56, will welcome visitors to his basement studio with a display of recent watercolor landscapes.
"I always have done watercolors," he says. He attributes this to a favorite professor, a watercolorist, at Western Illinois University, where McCormick took his undergraduate degree.
"I like the medium a lot," he adds, sitting on his front porch one recent afternoon. "You can't really make alterations to it. Once you put it down, it's there, and you kind of live with every single brushstroke."
McCormick describes his undergraduate works as representational but also symbolic, "with earth goddesses and a sort of back story to them." In graduate school at Notre Dame, he moved toward "abstract minimalist stuff." Returning to the medium after his retirement, "I didn't want to just pick up a strand that I had left 25 years ago and pretend nothing had happened in between."
He found inspiration in some rural property he owns, and in the prairie restoration work he does there. "I love the colors and the atmosphere of late fall and winter," he says.
"It's a very subtle color scheme, but it can be very rich, too," McCormick explains. "I'm looking at leaf patterns or the patterns of limbs and branches criss-crossing, that kind of thing. It tends to be more intimate. Never big vistas. Never big sky."