Top 10 Visual Art Highlights
From new arts hotel to mural creations to a “Moon Festival.”
This past year, especially the summer, has been a notable one for the Milwaukee-area visual arts scene, from the opening of downtown’s Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel and a new Mitchell Street gallery to a bronze statue commemorating a South Milwaukee legend to a nonprofit arts organization receiving a sizable grant.
Below are my choices for the Top 10 art news highlights of 2019:
- Downtown boutique hotel Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel opened June 4 at 139 E. Kilbourn Ave. The hotel features several galleries, a performing arts theater, approximately two dozen pieces of artwork in each of its 219 rooms, a café, fast casual pizza restaurant, a champagne and wine bar, and live entertainment.
- One of South Milwaukee’s most famous residents, wrestling great Reggie Lisowski, aka “Da Crusher” was honored with a life-size bronze statue this summer. The statue was unveiled June 8 at 1101 Milwaukee Ave. in South Milwaukee during “Crusher Fest,” a two-day celebration featuring appearances by Lisowski’s wrestling contemporaries, food, beer, and plenty of polka.
- Sculpture Milwaukee, a four-month-long outdoor exhibition featuring the work of 22 artists, including Max Ernst, Red Grooms, Roxy Paine, and Richard Woods, returned to downtown Milwaukee for its third year. Works were displayed June through October.
- Jeff Redmon and his wife, Dana, opened Scout Gallery, a 5,800-square-foot space at 1104 W. Historic Mitchell St., in June. The gallery includes a retail space which sells work by local artists at many different price points.
- Earlier this year, the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) in West Bend acquired a valuable painting by Wisconsin landscape artist Tom Uttech. The oil-on-linen painting, “NIN GASSINSIBINGWE”, is part of Uttech’s Migration series, which features birds and mammals migrating through Wisconsin’s North Woods and parts of Ontario, Canada. Uttech’s retrospective exhibit, Into the Woods, will be on display at the MOWA through January 12.
- In July, the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) became the recipient of a $3,000,000 grant, courtesy of the Anonymous Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, allowing the organization to expand its programming and move into a new operating space. In October, MARN relocated to a 5,200-square-foot space, which includes a gallery, retail storefront, and events space, at Lofts on Broadway, 191 N. Broadway.
- RedLine Milwaukee, a nonprofit group and gallery space dedicated to supporting Milwaukee artists, closed its location, 1422 N. 4th St., in July, after a decade of operation.
- The East Tosa mural project, featuring six vibrant murals painted on North Avenue businesses in Wauwatosa, was completed in July. Wauwatosa alderman Joel Tilleson, who founded the project, said that the city will continue to focus on promoting public art.
- This summer, a Third Ward mural painted on the north side of the Dye House building, 230 E. Buffalo St., was a subject of controversy. Created by German muralist Andreas Von Chrzanowski (CASE Maclaim) the mural depicts a headless woman wearing a white utility apron with her hands folded. While some feel the mural honors working women in general, others argue the mural implies these workers are disposable.
- Under One Moon festival, an outdoor event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, was held in the Third Ward August 9 through 11. The event included lunar-themed music, dance and art, and showcased Museum of the Moon, British artist Luke Jerram’s 23-foot-wide inflatable art installation.
Art Events and Gallery Openings
Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.:
A “New Year’s Resolution Drop-In Tour” will be held at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM).
Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.:
The MAM will host its free First Thursday. Admission to the museum is free all day.
A MAM expert will host an Express Talk on the museum’s current exhibit, A Modern Vision:European Masterworks in the Phillips Collection, in the Baker/Rowland Galleries.
Chroma, an exhibit focused on brilliant colors and abstraction, opens at Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St. The exhibit features paintings and sculptures by Shane McAdams, T.L. Solien, Derrick Buisch, Terrence Coffman, Ben Grant, Michael Hedges, Clarence Morgan, Jason Rohlf, Jeremy Popelka and Richard Taylor.