Art-City > Milwaukee Art

Milwaukee: Great for Artists

By Nicolas Tirmont - 12/4/2012

Despite it’s rust belt reputation and rich history of manufacturing, Milwaukee hosts a surprisingly rich and diverse arts community. From our world-class Art Museum with it’s Santiago Calatrava-designed galleries to the diverse storefront galleries that dot neighborhoods throughout the city, there’s always something interesting to see. More importantly, there’s always something new and exciting to inspire the working artist.

Thanks in part to the “Percent for Art” program, public construction projects include a set-aside for public art, and in virtually every neighborhood you can find public art. Sometimes a sculpture in a park, sometimes reliefs set into the sidewalk; they range from the obvious to the more subtle pieces that blend into the surroundings, their functionality hearkening back to the central European pragmatism that shaped the early years of the city.

One of the more interesting on the latter group can be found just off of Brady Street, where the Holton Street Bridge crosses above N. Water St. In order to better connect Commerce Street’s new condo developments with more established areas of the city, a marsupial bridge was installed underneath the Holton Street Bridge. On the Water Street side of the bridge, the Marsupial Bridge Media Garden was constructed. An interesting feature of the park is the concrete benches, each with built in-lighting that illuminates the park at night. The benches were designed by local lighting designer Noele Stollmack. The plaza has become a gathering place for skaters, and in the summer, there’s a good chance that there’s a film screening most weekend nights. Some are organized, some are impromptu, but all are well attended. During the summer of 2012, a group of tradesmen from the area volunteered their time and services to install tire swings that hang from the bridge. Apart from meetings with the city to review safety requirements, it was pretty much a guerrilla operation. One morning we woke up, and there were the swings. Some are singles, some are bench swings, but they’re all made of reclaimed materials, with time and services donated.

This endeavor typifies what you’ll see from the Milwaukee arts community: People working independently to create a greater whole for everyone. There’s a great sense of community, of camaraderie, and of course, creativity. A lot of it is hidden and you’ll have to look for it, but the hunt is so rewarding.


Public Art


Art Fairs and Festivals


Local Artists


We are currently looking for more contributors for the Milwaukee Art Scene. If you want to write about any of the following please contact us:
  • Art Museums
  • Art Galleries
  • Local Artists
  • Street Art
  • Public Art
  • Festivals and Fairs
  • An Interpretation of Artwork
  • Any Underground Art
Go to the Get Involved! page to learn about different ways to get involved with the Art-City.org project.