MICROTONES by Ben Munson, contributor

I’ve taken part in pull-tab gambling binges that have left bar tables buried under mountains of losing tickets. It’s an effective illustration of my susceptibility to this very Wisconsin form of gambling, and a great reminder to stop buying so many pull tabs. But my own monuments to misplaced optimism never came close to the artistic expressions currently on display at the Ideal Bar.

The sculptures currently on the wall at the venerable Atwood Avenue dive are the work of Madison artist Jo Jensen. Jensen collects losing pull tabs—all torn open, with their colorful symbols exposed—from local taverns including the Ideal, Chief’s and the Atwood. She adds losing raffle tickets to the mix as well. Then she combines those materials into startling creations: massive mermaids, grinning gods, and skulls with glowing eyes.

Jensen says her artwork, which will be on display at the Ideal Bar until the end of October, is intended to offer visual puns about the dangers of gambling.

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