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Downtown to host third summer season of street art exhibits from Sculpture Milwaukee

Sculpture Milwaukee, the city’s annual outdoor art exhibition, will welcome a new round of 22 artworks to Wisconsin Avenue from June 7 to October 27.

The first batch of renowned artists confirmed so far include Atlanta artist Radcliffe Bailey, California artist John Baldessari, Berlin-based Elmgreen & Dragset, New York artist Roxy Paine, American artist and resident of Italy, Beverly Pepper, and London-based Richard Woods.

“We are thrilled to bring these spectacular works by remarkable artists to downtown Milwaukee,” said Marilu Knode, Sculpture Milwaukee’s Co-Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Programs. “Every piece has a story to tell. There’s John Baldessari, one of the most important American artists of the post-war period, and Beverly Pepper, the first artist to use Cor-Ten steel, who is still actively creating at 96 years young. Looking at the exhibition as a whole, the works use different combinations of abstraction and figuration to express the ideas of the artists.”

Each year since 2017, Sculpture Milwaukee has sparked the public imagination, while adding to the vibrancy of downtown. The organization continues to bring a new selection of world-renowned artworks for everyone to enjoy, placed along Wisconsin Avenue from 5th Street east to O’Donnell Park.

As in previous years, Sculpture Milwaukee is curated by Knode and Russell Bowman, art advisor and former director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Knode is the former director of Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis.

Renewing its pledge as the exhibition’s presenting sponsor, Northwestern Mutual will host John Baldessari’s comical self-portrait Penguin, 2018, and Roxy Paine’s Cleft, from the series Dendrites, 2018, in the stunning, three-acre Northwestern Mutual Gardens at the eastern end of Wisconsin Avenue.

“There’s so much to enjoy and be inspired by – both on the serious and playful side – and it’s wonderful seeing the vibrancy of our downtown cultural scene,” said Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation and vice president of campus operations.

The additional works to be sited along Wisconsin Avenue include Radcliffe Bailey’s Pensive, 2013, invoking African American activist W.E.B. Du Bois in the position of Rodin’s iconic work The Thinker; Elmgreen & Dragset’s meditation on vision, A Greater Perspective, 2015; Beverly Pepper’s curved, muscular sculpture, Curvae in Curvae, 2012; and Richard Woods’ cheery, colorful house, Untitled (Milwaukee), 2019.

“Now in its third year, Sculpture Milwaukee has truly transformed downtown in the summertime with its lively, urban art exhibition, accessible to all,” said Stephen Marcus, Sculpture Milwaukee board chair and founder. “As a result of recent events, the eyes of the nation and the world are on Milwaukee, and thanks to the support of our donors and Milwaukee businesses, Sculpture Milwaukee helps propel our image as a world-class and visionary city onto a global stage.”

The exhibition’s remaining artists and sculptures will be announced later in the spring. Installation of the sculptures, including a specially commissioned work by a local artist, and the largest work in Sculpture Milwaukee’s history, will begin in May.

All of the 22 artworks are available for purchase with a percentage of each sale going toward Sculpture Milwaukee’s future installations. Sculpture Milwaukee is an annual outdoor exhibition of public sculpture in downtown Milwaukee that serves as a catalyst for community engagement, economic development, and creative placemaking.

The exhibit creates a free, open-air art gallery, wrapped in fun events and educational opportunities, which captivates residents, tourists, downtown employees, students, and art lovers alike. Supported by Milwaukee Downtown BID #21, Sculpture Milwaukee is funded entirely through private grants, in-kind donations, and sponsorships. All of the artworks are available for purchase.

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