The Avant Garde Coffeehouse Project: APR 5 - MAY 5

Avant Garde

See event description for detailed information on times and locations

 The work of our dedicated students, faculty, and members of the community culminates in three dynamic ways:
∙ A retrospective installation & exhibition at the Institute of Visual Arts (Inova)
∙ Special student performances from our world-renowned Guitar program
∙ A world-premiere performance written by a Peck School Alumna and performed by Theatre and Guitar students



From 1962 to 1968, the Avant Garde Coffeehouse, located at 2111 North Prospect, was the locus of the folk/blues revival. Not only did the coffeehouse host local and nationally known musicians, but it was also a hotbed for experimental films, poetry readings, and performance art.  There were places like this in other areas of the country, but, in Wisconsin, none as important as the Avant Garde.

In order to examine more deeply the history and impact of this unexpected icon in Milwaukee’s underground art scene, faculty, students and staff in the UWM Peck School of the Arts Music Department/Finger-Style Guitar Program and the Department of Theatre embarked on the long-term, multi-departmental research, and community-engagement Avant Garde Coffeehouse Project.

The Finger-Style Guitar Program – the only university-level course of study of its kind in the world – encourages students to make contributions to the emerging academic identity of the genre through research, transcription, and engagement with broader cultural and historical themes informing the discipline. The Avant Garde Coffeehouse Project provided the perfect opportunity for students to connect with the roots of the creative community in which they work and live.

For Theatre students and faculty, this project complemented the Department’s mission to create new work in support of community engagement. They led the long-term process of integrating all the research and writing to bring the visual, musical and human narrative to life.



APRIL 5 – MAY 12, 2013 -FREE-
Opening Reception: April 5, 5-9pm (includes live theatre and guitar performances)
Institute of Visual Arts (Inova)
2155 N. Prospect Ave
Gallery Hours:
Wed – Sun, 12-5pm & Thurs until 8pm

This multi-faceted exhibition will include photography, ephemera, documentary video, sound recordings, and live performances by students in the UWM Finger-Style Guitar Program.

The collection of original audio recordings, photography, film, and other artifacts continues to grow, thanks to the involvement of and generous contributions from individuals closely associated with the Avant Garde.  These materials provide the foundation for continuing research, development of critical pedagogical materials, and a deeper understanding of the emergence of finger-style guitar as art music.


Guitar Performances:

Students from UWM’s Finger-style Guitar Program will perform FREE in the Inova Gallery on the following days:
Avant Garde Coffeehouse Project Opening Reception
Friday, April 5 from 5-9pm
Gallery Night
Friday, April 19 from 5-9pm
Kenilworth Open Studios
Sat, Apr 20 from 12-1pm


Theatre Performances:

-World Premiere-
Apr 26-May 5, 2013
Kenilworth Studio 508
1925 E. Kenilworth Place

$8 adult / $5 age 13-18 & PSOA student / Free to under 12 & Theatre majors
414-229-4308 or
Performance times:
Fri-Sat, Apr 26- 27 at 7:30pm
Sun, Apr 28 at 2pm
Thurs-Sat, May 2-4 at 7:30pm
Sun, May 5 at 2pm

Directed by Rebecca Holderness
Written by Fly Steffens (BFA Theatre 2012)
The past comes alive for three students when a mysterious box of reel-to-reel tapes appears in the 11th hour of the Avant Garde Coffeehouse Project. This musical coming-of-age story, based on the history uncovered by UWM’s Finger-Style Guitar Program, asks what happens when two generations of youth and music collide.

Attend a rehearsal at Kenilworth Open Studios Saturday April 20th from 12-1pm. FREE.