Milwaukee, Wisconsin might be more well known for beer and cheese than it’s art scene, but now might be a good time to take another look. While we do have copious amounts of both beer & cheese, there’s a lot more to Milwaukee than that. In recent years the city’s skyline has drastically changed with the crown jewel being the bright white Milwaukee Art Museum.
However, the artistic side of the city doesn’t stop there, now thanks to Sculpture Milwaukee we have an annual public display of art every summer. With the hard work of a group passionate people and some generous sponsors, one of Downtown Milwaukee’s busiest streets plays host to sculptures from master artists.
About Sculpture Milwaukee
2018 marks the second season of outdoor sculptures in Milwaukee’s downtown. It was the vision turned reality of Steve Marcus, chairman of the Marcus Corporation, to make high-end art accessible to everyone. That dream came true in 2017 when the first collection of sculptures hit the streets of downtown Milwaukee. The team at Sculpture Milwaukee has again gather works from some very well known and significant artists for 2018. The works spent the summer on display down Wisconsin Avenue.
This is not your typical art installation – but that’s what we love about it. There are no white walls and meticulously placed lights. This is an open-air exhibit that is free to the public down one of the busiest streets in the city.
In the summer of 2018, 21 sculptures lined Wisconsin Ave. in the heart of the city’s downtown and were on display all summer long, all free to the public. All the pieces are easy to find and there are even downloadable audio guides to give you a better understanding of the artwork.
Artist: ROBERT INDIANA
#2. Seer (Alice II)
Artist: KIKI SMITH
#3. “Reason to Be”
Artist: JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS
#4. “The Group of Five”
Artist: MAGDALENA ABAKANOWICZ
#5. “Half Big Suit”
Artist: ERWIN WURM
#6. “Big Time”
Artist: RICHARD DEACON
#7. “Untitled (Burgher with Extended Arm)”
Artist: LIZ GLYNN
#8. “Blue Bra Girls”
Artist: GHADA AMER
#9. “Bam (Seated Warrior)”
Artist: SANFORD BIGGERS
#10. “Mood Sculpture”
Artist: TONY TASSET
Artist: YOAN CAPOTE
Artist: BOSCO SODI
Artist: SHANA MCCAW & BRENT BUDSBERG
Artist: HANK WILLIS THOMAS
#15. “Hazmat Love”
Artist: TOM FRIEDMAN
#16. “Tower (Gubbio)”
Artist: SOL LEWITT
#17. “97.5º Arc X 9″
Artist: BERNAR VENET
#18. “Bud (Bronze)”
Artist: GARY HUME
#19. “Zach’s Tower”
Artist: JOHN HENRY
#20. “Marker #2”
Artist: MEL KENDRICK
#21. “Stealing Shadows, Michelangelo”
Artist: ANA PRVAČKI
Our Favorites of 2018 Sculpture Milwaukee
While we find art to be subjective and don’t think one piece is better than another, there were a few that we really felt a connection with and just found personally intriguing. These are the sculptures that made us to a moment and pause while walking down busy Wisconsin Avenue.
Half Big Suit
There is just something whimsical about the Half Big Suit. It almost feels like he’s being pulling in many directions at once, which is likely relatable to the people working in downtown Milwaukee in the busy financial area he sits in front of.
Blue Bra Girls
I think this sculpture really unfolds and tells a story as you walk toward it on Wisconsin Avenue. From a distance, it looks like a delicate shiny egg surrounded by a bed of beautiful flowers. When you start to get closer you realize there are intricate shapes and people sculpted into the pieces of metal that form an egg shape. However, it’s not until you are standing right next to this piece that you realize there is a whole story happening and elements interacting from both sides of the hollow shape.
97.5º ARC X 9
I think this one appealed to my inner engineer. This piece made me stop and think how they were able to get these massive pieces of steel to bend into graceful shapes while keeping a precise 97.5° arc.
Hazmat Love by Tom Friedman
One of the sculptures that made us stop and ponder the longest was the sculpture of two men in protective gear embracing each other entitled “Hazmat Love”. The Artist frequently uses household materials like aluminum baking pans to create works of art that are sometimes cast into stainless steel.
For me this piece makes me wonder what is going on in their world and why they are wearing protective gear that almost looks like space suits. Has something gone wrong in the world or are they fighting to save lives? I also like the mirrors used for the faces, I think it adds to the intrigue of the piece.
Love by Robert Indiana
Placed in front of the new Northwestern Mutual Building was one of legendary Pop Art Artist Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculptures.
What happens to the sculptures after the season?
Many of the pieces are for sale with proceeds supporting the future seasons of Sculpture Milwaukee. We hope sculpture Milwaukee will continue well into the future and keep Wisconsin Ave. a lot more interesting.
Up Next for Sculpture Milwaukee 2019
Even though the 2018 sculptures just left our streets there’s already work going on behind the scenes for next years season of Sculpture Milwaukee. While it’s too early to tell what’s to come for next year, the announcements should come in springtime with news about participating artists and their works that will be on display next summer. For all the news about Sculpture Milwaukee head over to their website.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure