‘Sculpture Milwaukee' installing public art downtown on Wisconsin Avenue

The group will install 22 sculptures

The landscape of downtown Milwaukee will look a little different this summer with a local group installing 22 sculptures from international artists.

The group "Sculpture Milwaukee" is doing this for the first time. Monday, a 40-ton crane helped lower the large sculptures onto sidewalks on Wisconsin Avenue.

"I'm so excited I could do cartwheels up and down Wisconsin Avenue," Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown said.

Weirick helped the dream of Steve Marcus come to life. Marcus, the chair of Sculpture Milwaukee, had the idea four years ago after seeing an art display at Chatsworth Castle in England. His dream was to bring the same kind of culture to Milwaukee.

In a special way, the path of artwork leads right to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

"I think it's a great day for Milwaukee," Marcus said. "Terrific from an economic development standpoint. We're hoping this will generate a lot more traffic on Wisconsin Avenue. This is a very special place because this doesn't happen in many places. Sculptures in downtown areas tend to be not a particularly unusual thing but they tend to be scattered all around. These are very focused up and down the avenue. As I said, we believe it will assist all the building owners up and down this street with their own individual economic developments."

While Summerfest is the premier summer event in the city, Sculpture Milwaukee hopes this the beginning of something similar.

"Sculpture Milwaukee will be to the art lover, or soon to be art lover, as Summerfest is to the music lover," Weirick said. "It's yet another wonderful creative expression for Milwaukee and an opportunity for us to take our young children in the community, bring them down to Wisconsin Avenue and really give them this first hand experience and teach them about art and the appreciation of art and pause for a moment to understand."

The 22 sculptors are from all around the country and the world, with some local love as well. Jason Yi, a South Korean born artist living in Milwaukee, is creating a PVC sculpture with the theme "Legend of the White Snake."

Yi and a team of three will be creating the PVC structure for about a week. While it may not look impressive on day one, Yi says it will be a massive 14 foot tall structure when it is done. However, the experience is what Yi is most impressed with.

"Great to represent the city," Yi said. "Milwaukee has a strong art community and I'm lucky to be a part of it."

Yi says "The Legend of the White Snake" is an Asian fairy tale; something he's excited to share with anyone who comes to see his work.

"Art is about accessibility in many ways," Yi said. "For the passerby to ask questions as we're installing, for them to interact and see this sort of sculpture in a public realm is great to see. It's great to interact in that sense. It's an opportunity to explain what the art is all about in a one on one sense. Instead of a museum, it's outdoors, more interactive, more accessible."

Sharing the work of local artists on the same stage as some world renowned sculptors is something the city is excited to be a part of.

"It really does tug at my heart because you realize the beauty of the fine art sculpture," Weirick said. "But also, what it represents in terms of Milwaukee and we are a first class city."

The sculptures will be installed over the course of the next two weeks and will be up throughout the summer until October. For more information on various tours and information about the sculptures, visit the group's website.

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