Sculptures coming to Wisconsin Avenue in June

Display will feature more than 21 artists, including Santiago Calatrava

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More than 20 sculptures will make their debut along Wisconsin Avenue this summer in an effort to attract visitors to downtown Milwaukee. One of the sculptures will be designed by Santiago Calatrava, who designed the winged addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Sculpture Milwaukee, an outdoor urban sculpture experience featuring 22 pieces of art by 21 artists, will be on display from June 1 to Oct. 22. The display will line Wisconsin Avenue from North 6th Street to O’Donnell Park.

Led by Marcus Corp. chairman Steve Marcus, the initiative has been in the works for more than two years and is part of the Downtown Business Improvement District’s beatification efforts.

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One of the featured sculptures by Santiago Calatrava. Photo: Marlborough Gallery
One of the featured sculptures by Santiago Calatrava.
Photo: Marlborough Gallery

Organizers expect the exhibit to become an annual event, with new artists and artwork displayed each year.

This year’s project was curated by former Milwaukee Art Museum director Russell Bowman, who selected works from galleries across the country.

“We are delighted to showcase the talents of so many well-regarded artists,” Marcus said. “We appreciate the combined efforts of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, private business owners, and many others to make this urban public art installation a reality. Sculpture Milwaukee will attract global attention, showcasing Milwaukee’s revitalization and rich cultural history in the art world.”

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Installation of the sculptures is scheduled to begin in mid-May.

Among the artists to be featured are Santiago Calatrava, Tony Cragg, Alison Saar, Joel Shapiro and Jessica Stockholder. Other sculptures will include work from Milwaukee-based artists Michelle Grabner, Paul Druecke and Jason S. Yi.

Sculptures will range in size and material, and will include a 40-foot tall stainless steel piece by Saint Clair Cemin and a concrete block sculpture by Sol LeWitt, which will be assembled on-site.

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“Sculpture Milwaukee will be an amazing addition to the collection of activities already taking place in downtown Milwaukee this summer,” said Beth Weirick, chief executive officer of the  Downtown BID. “Milwaukee is one of only a handful of cities to host a free, urban installation of this magnitude. We look forward to engaging the community with programs and events around this new public art.”

The project is being funded by grants, in-kind donations and sponsorships. Organizers expect to announce the project’s larger sponsors in the coming weeks.

The sculptures will be available for purchase and a percentage of the commission from each sale will be reinvested in the program to continue it in future years.

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