Milwaukee Downtown, BID 21
Movers and Shakers

Marilu Knode

"I am so impressed to see up-close all the incredible energy and investment that is happening in downtown."

By - Aug 29th, 2019 03:34 pm
Marilu Knode. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21.

Marilu Knode. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21.

What attracts you to your work with Sculpture Milwaukee?

I had been working in a public sculpture park prior to moving back to Milwaukee, and Sculpture Milwaukee offers some wonderful opportunities to learn about placing temporary work in an urban space. My career has always been based on arts non-profits, but Sculpture Milwaukee’s team is broad and wide, and I am getting to know the city much better through my contact with all the great teams, from the incredibly skilled team at Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, to landscaping experts at KEI, the website gurus at Graydient and the designers at Jigsaw. By working in the public realm, I feel much more a part of the community.

With Sculpture Milwaukee now in its third season, how do you believe the annual exhibition has changed the arts and cultural environment in Milwaukee?

Sculpture Milwaukee is part of a dynamic cultural environment that includes all types of art forms, but we are unique. We are free every day, all day, which means we have eliminated any barriers to enjoying the works we bring in. I work closely with Russell Bowman on curating the show and we try to bring a mix of generations, working processes, and emerging to well-established artists, which gives residents and visitors a snapshot of the best art being made over the past 50 years both in the U.S. and abroad. We are free and we are giving you some great insight into art history’s makers as well!

What sculpture or installation are you most excited about this year and why?

I look at the images for the works for six months, or even two years, before the pieces arrive in Milwaukee to be installed. This is the most exciting part of what we do. This year, I have been really thrilled to see that works are bigger than I imagined because scale is one of the most important elements in public art. I am very excited about the Carlos Rolón, the John Baldessari Penguin, the Actual Size Artworks bunny in a hat — really every work brings something pretty magical to the street.

What other initiative do you feel is most important to keeping the positive momentum going in downtown and throughout the City?

I am so impressed to see up-close all the incredible energy and investment that is happening in downtown. We have new generations of leaders addressing the issues common to every other city in the U.S., and their new solutions are being implemented. I am glad that Milwaukeeans are proud of what makes them unique, but also taking on the things that need to be solved, together. 

When you are not working on Sculpture Milwaukee, what are your favorite things to do?

I am a passionate amateur gardener, and when the weather is right, there’s nothing I like more than being outside with my hands in the dirt or using produce from my garden to feed my partner Kevin and our friends. Given the long winter we’ve had, this year I bought an indoor grow-light set-up, so I have my own seedlings to plant. I love knowing how food grows and what it takes to make it happen, I feel much more sensitive to global food issues as a result. I plant of course the classics — tomatoes, basil, arugula, soybeans — but every year I try things I have no idea what they will look like or how they grow. Last year was cucamelons, adzuki beans and chickpeas. This year, I am trying watermelon radishes and fenugreek. I’ll know how this worked in September!

Movers and Shakers is presented by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21.

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