Madison-based artist Will Santino has developed quite a varied hustle over the past five years. He’s published cartoons in The New Yorker and posted all sorts of new work at a rapid clip on Patreon and Instagram. He’s also branched out as a humorist with absurd video sketches, developing stand-up material at local comedy open-mics. Santino’s added modeling and an OnlyFans to the mix as well. At the same time, his work as a painter has been expanding into whole other worlds that sprawl far beyond the bounds of a puckish single-frame cartoon or a tight stand-up bit.
Viewers can step into one of those worlds at Santino’s forthcoming exhibition Lost In Sunset City, running July 21 through 25 at Commonwealth Gallery, 100 S. Baldwin St. (An opening reception takes place July 21 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.) The show will combine illustrations with a 3-D “model city” built of foamcore, draped in the hazy purple-to-orange spectrum of a melancholy sunset. It’s his first solo art show since a 2018 exhibition that marked his graduation from UW-Madison with an MFA in painting.
“The New Yorker cartoons are my main thing as far as what I’m most known for, and I’ve been doing those for about five years now. But I’ve always also done…very whimsical, magical, fantastical illustration that usually links back to my lifelong love of fantasy and sci-fi and things like that,” Santino says.