A note from the founder, Frank Juarez

Photo by Irma Roman

Photo by Irma Roman

It has been a week since the Midwest Artist Studios (MAS) Team arrived back in its home state of Wisconsin. We met a great group of artists, Josh Wilichowski (MN), Vincenzio Donatelle (MN), Jane Ryder (IA), Jamie Bates Slone (MO), Catie Miller (MO), Todd Mrozinski (WI), Paula Schulze (WI), Josie Osborne (WI) and Suzanne Torres (WI). These artists were a pleasure to work with and you will be reading more about them as the project moves into its editing/production phase. Each brings something special to this project.

During our trip we were able to visit the Des Moines Art Center, Red Star Studios, and Belger Arts Center. We were so inspired by the people we met such as Mo Dickens from the Belger Arts Center, the art we saw and the conversations we had with people along our route. We were so inspired that we started to make work of our very own. This is the response that I hope our readers will have when they see our full-color catalog highlighting our MAS artists and read excerpts from our interviews and seeing how we took the works of these artists to develop lesson plans to compliment their studio practice. These lesson plans will be developed to inspire, communicate and challenge students to continue to pursue originality and to foster their creativity.

Visiting Suzanne Torres at  Arts Lofts n Madison, Wisconsin

Visiting Suzanne Torres at Arts Loft in Madison, Wisconsin

The MAS artists are living proof that making art and living in an art-centered life is rewarding; emotionally, mentally, professionally and financially. The next time someone asks the question, “can someone make a living in art?”, think of the people you know that are doing it and say, “yes”.

This project is aimed to create a platform that connects a contemporary art studio practice with art education. As an art educator, I often ask myself if what I am doing in the classroom is enough to broaden my students’ perspective on art, art education and living a well-rounded life. You know that the answer is no. There is so much out there that can benefit students and this project is one way of doing so. The MAS Project was created to give educators, administrators, library specialists, curriculum coordinators, school board members, access to artists who contribute their success to their art education experience. 

The MAS Team is working very hard to bring you the MAS 2014 catalog and workbook by mid-October of 2014. The best way to stay up-to-date on this project is by either subscribing to our blog, Midwest Artist Studios, or by following us on Facebook at facebook.com/midwestartiststudios.

If you like to be added to our MAS Email List all you have to do is email Frank at the address below and type in the subject box: Interested in the MAS Catalog/Workbook.

Visiting Jamie Bates Slone at her studio at Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Missouri.

Visiting Jamie Bates Slone at her studio at Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Missouri

All questions can be directed to Frank Juarez, MAS Founder, at midwestartiststudios@gmail.com.

This trip would be not be possible without the support of the Kohler Foundation, Inc, Wisconsin Art Education Association, Sheboygan North High School and Sheboygan Area School District


Jamie Bates Slone and Catie Miller – Kansas City, Missouri


Today’s studio visit is with Jamie Bates Slone and Catie Miller from Kansas City, Missouri. 

Jamie Bates Slone


jamiebatesslone_studio4The focus and significance of my work lies in the state of the human condition, the delicacy and fragility of the human construct in an emotional and physical sense. My experience is that of being part of an extended family that has endured a history of cancer and high mortality rate. As I have become more aware of my family’s history with illness through the examination of my memories, I have become wary of the future and empathetic of the past. I often find myself attributing to others my own unease in relation to cancer. This projection of my anxieties onto others acts as cancer does in metastasis, spreading from one location to another. My work is an examination and reflection of the memories, emotions, and anxieties caused by my family’s history with cancer with an emphasis on the relationship between human biology and human emotion.


Jamie Bates Slone is a ceramic artist known for her figurative work in clay paired with with projected imagery as surface as well as her experimental work in the casting of ceramic glazes. Her most recent work addresses the fragility of the human spirit in the midst of illness and loss in relation to her family’s history with cancer. Jamie earned her MFA with honors in Ceramics at the University of Kansas in Spring of 2012 where she received the Professional Development Assistance Award. She earned her BFA in Studio Art with and emphasis in Ceramics in 2008 at the University of Central Missouri. Jamie is currently a Foundation Resident Artist at Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Missouri and adjunct faculty in ceramics at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. Jamie has exhibited work in galleries throughout the U.S. including the Spencer Art Museum in Lawrence, Kansas, Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle, Washington, First Street Gallery in New York City, New York, and the St. Petersburg Clay Company in St. Petersburg, Florida. She most recently won first place at the Clay3 National Juried Exhibition juried by Kurt Weiser.

Catie Miller


DSC_0107Loose, slightly humorous, and unsettling illustrations animate my ceramic artworks. I choose to draw portraits of people’s hidden lives, magnifying the people’s features and the private moments of their lives. Currently, I am exploring the obsessive collection of things—hoarding, and how this fixation interferes with the quality of daily life and relationships. Growing up, we had a lot of stuff; overflowing boxes of papers, small mountains of clothes, and a cat for every family member. Frequently moving throughout my life has forced me to evaluate my relationship with my possessions. I incorporate multiple layers of surface to create a crowded environment for the narrative. Much like hoarding challenges home as comfort, the addition of exaggerated ornamentation and form challenges the comfortable feeling of function, engaging the viewer to contemplate his or her relationship to objects.


Catie Miller graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) with a degree in Art Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a ceramic emphasis in May 2013. After graduation, Miller relocated to Kansas City, KS and accepted a long-term artist residency at Red Star Studios. With a variety of interests she has developed skills in an array of areas including printmaking and drawing. She has embraced many opportunities to work within the art community teaching and coordinating classes for youth and adults interested in the arts.

Miller has shown her work nationally and internationally as well as throughout the Midwest. She has been showcased in several local and national publications, including Ceramics Monthly’s “Undergraduate Showcase” and “Exposure.” Additionally, she was a member of the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists group serving on the board as treasurer and was involved as an education intern with Walking, Waiting, Wandering, Words—a public art project developed through the Arts Partnership and the City of Fargo.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.



Jane Ryder – Iowa


Today’s trip takes us to Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Jane Ryder


janeryderBMy paintings are a right-brained approach to observing, dissecting, and recording the objective subject matter found in the lakes, rivers, prairies, and forests of south central Iowa. As my intimacy with the land surrounding me evolves, so do my approaches for depicting the complexities of varying terrains and the plants and animals that occupy them.

Each of my gouache paintings is a fictitious ecosystem that has been broken down into a series of vignettes. Each vignette describes the decay, growth, and interaction between the flora and fauna of that imagined place. Although bold colors, re- peating patterns, and flattened space make the paintings appear fantastic in nature, each scene is based off an observation.

I am constantly inspired by the complexities of the natural world. My work is an ever evolving narrative about the interconnectedness of all things and the functions of an organism in a community of plants and animals.


Jane Garrett Ryder was born and raised in the fine state of Illinois. In 2005 she received her BFA from Bradley University and went on to earn her MFA at Northern Illinois University four years later. In 2009 Ryder moved from Northern Illinois to South Central Iowa; where she can be found tromping through various muddy environments in search of fossils, arrowheads, and new artistic content. Her change from an urban environment to a rural setting has influenced her paintings in many significant ways. A deeper understanding of the interactions between man, animal, plant, dirt, water, and sun have affected the content and compositions of Ryders body of work.

Josh Wilichowski and Vincenzio Donatelle – Minnesota


Today our journey takes us into the studios of Josh Wilichowski and Vincenzio Donatelle

Josh Wilichowski


desk 14Men have come to understand through tradition, the media, our families, and our peers, that a man must maintain a rough-hewn, stoic façade to overcompensate for even the most basic feelings. Many males choose to bolster their identity by submitting to the stereotype, surrounding themselves with the trappings of masculinity. In this case, by utilizing these trappings in conjunction with coping tools like posturing, blending in, and physical redirection, they are allowed a loophole in which to express themselves and their hidden emotions.

The resulting manifestations of these actions become markers, each functioning as a personal vehicle. They carry with them such things as reminiscence, emotional exploration and identity. Like a pedigree, these attributes can be traced and recorded, and allows a view of each totemic relationship. In my work, I create allegories of these accessories and the accompanying masculine redirections through the investigation of transferal, the documentation of emotional pathways, and the use of the actual objects.

The object I am currently examining is the pickup truck. The truck is designed to pull and carry immense loads, as well as be a hard-working and dependable partner for its operator. However, it also readily accepts the added burden of transporting more delicate emotional payloads such as intimacy, pride, and self-doubt.   My current body of work is the study of trucks and my attempt to further understand not only the machine, but also the stigma of being a man.


Joshua Wilichowski (b Wausau, WI, 1975) received his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A multi-media artist, his work investigates both the relationship we form with and the importance placed on inanimate objects. His work has been exhibited at venues nationwide, including RocksBox Contemporary Art in Portland, OR, the P3 Gallery in Las Vegas, NV, as well as numerous colleges and art centers. He currently lives and works in North St Paul, MN.

Vincenzio Donatelle


IMG_0270I use the repetitive images, textures and language of my work to produce semi-narrative compositions in the forms of paintings, collages and prints. I often employ structural elements to activate the space within the gallery thus forming an important middle ground in between the content within the frame and the viewer.

I observe the intersections of the individual, the social and their pathways producing serendipity, the rational versus the nonsensical as well as the way that the natural world collides with the artificial one to construct the human environment. I am particularly interested in the way stimulatory noise produced by this contemporary environment cohesively flows and recedes to produce concrete experience along side ambiguity.


I grew up in a family that was both supportive and demanding, which is kind of necessary when your family runs a restaurant and catering business together. When you grow up in that kind of environment you learn about working hard and constantly at pretty young age, of course you also learn the benefits of being your own boss too. None the less, everyone in my family is creatively minded, my mom was actually a sculptor, and my dad a painter. I saw my sister, fight her way into an Italian medical school which, may have taken a level of creativity that I cannot comprehend. I saw my brother grow into an incredibly intellectual artist, attending MCAD and just recently graduating from SVA in NYC. But from a young age we were always, almost repetitively were told this beautiful piece of nihilistic optimism: “You need to work hard at whatever you do, and find comfort in that, because when you do throw yourself into it, perhaps, no one will notice or care, in fact others may try to beat it out of you, the world will try and snap you out of it. But, if you don’t make the effort in the first place, without a doubt, nothing will happen.”

I recently graduated from MSU, Mankato and moved up to Minneapolis to live with my girlfriend, Julia, our Flemish giant and seven of our best friends. Since moving up I’ve had to struggle with making money in between making art and playing music in order to sustain myself and my life. Sometimes money, or lack there of, is more frustrating than anything else, because it can totally stifle or completely halt the creative process. For example, I needed to pay studio fees in May that resulted in me not being able to afford anything to print with or on. You learn to figure it out though, especially because there isn’t much of an option, except for maybe getting a service industry job. That all being said, I take pride in what I do, despite the hardships that come naturally. Though, frustrating as it can be, I think those moments force one to step back, examine, revise and tweak the theory or concept behind the work which, I believe can be just as relevant as producing work in the first place.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

The Midwest Artist Studios Project is officially launched


In less than 2 hours we will be on the road for the first part (of a 3-part project) of the Midwest Artist Studios Project.

Here is our schedule for August 3-10, 2014.

Featured studio artists are:
August 4 | Josh Wilichowski, North St Paul, MN
August 4 | Vincenzio Donatelle, Minneapolis, MN
August 5 | Jane Ryder, Oskaloosa, IA
August 7 | Jamie Bates Slone, Kansas City, MO
August 7 | Catie Miller, Kansas City, MO
August 8 | Todd Mrozinski, Milwaukee, WI
August 9 | Josie Osborne, Milwaukee, WI
August 9 | Paula Schulze, Shorewood, WI
August 10 | Suzanne Torres, Madison, WI

today is the day

We will be sharing updates and photos via facebook.com/midwestartiststudios.