Sculpture Milwaukee Announces 2021 Participating Artists Ahead of Next Month's Opening


When we shared an update about the upcoming 5th edition of Sculpture Milwaukee back in February, plans were just beginning to be shared with the public. Now as summer feels like it's almost here – we're ready for anything happening outdoors not to mention as much public art as we can handle – the annual outdoor exhibition of public sculpture in the city's downtown has shared the roster of artists who are going to make it happen as well as an exhibition title chosen by co-curators Theaster Gates and Michelle Grabner. 

Sculpture Milwaukee launches next month and has an extended run this time, concluding in fall 2022. The exhibition has become one of the largest annual outdoor exhibitions to focus on​ ​contemporary sculpture and public art practices. 

there is this We, the title chosen by guest curators Gates and Grabner, refers to what perhaps can happen through collective creativity after a year largely spent apart, particularly at a time when artists are looking to the future and expressing their visions for change. The exhibition features exhibiting artists Kevin Beasley, Betty Gold, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, Allison Janae Hamilton, Kara Hamilton, Brad Kahlhamer, Deborah Kass, Thaddeus Mosley, Matthias Neumann, Virginia Overton, Dan Peterman, Jason Pickleman, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, John Riepenhoff, Christine Tarkowski, and Lauren Yeager.

The exhibition will feature newly fabricated works by eight artists, including those by SMKE’s inaugural Guest Artist Lauren Yeager, the first large-scale sculpture by Jason Pickleman, and the debut of a new cast bronze work by Thaddeus Mosley.

Of the exhibition, Grabner says:

“The poetics of perseverance and determination vibrate in the art that Theaster and I have selected. There are exciting and palpable energies at work in these sculptures; we feel it in the sonic reverberations of Kevin Beasley's acoustic mirrors, in the foliage quietly growing in the bed of Virginia Overton's pick-up truck, and in the rattling cry of the tambourines that comprise Allison Janae Hamilton's tower. The exhibition's title reflects the collective power of the works included in the 2021 exhibition, and honors a belief in social change through the provocations of the artistic imagination."

Sculpture Milwaukee has also rolled out a membership program. They state on their website that in order to bring an exhibition of world class art to Milwaukee each year, they rely on public support. Sculpture MKE memberships support the exhibitions, programming, and community engagement in place while also offering subscribers new opportunities to discover and experience Milwaukee. Individual memberships cost $29 and include sculpture tours with SMKE's expert team, partners, and artists, discounts on Sculpture MKE Merchandise, special offers from partners, and a digital exhibition catalogue. Business memberships start at $2,500. 

Illinois has classified Wisconsin as a 'yellow state' as far as COVID statistics are concerned, the city's downtown hotels have reopened, and a day or weekend trip to Milwaukee in the coming months is an ideal chance to see new public art outside of Chicago by artists known around the country. 


Tony Tasset | Blob Monster | 2010, fiberglass | 96 x 96 x 96 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Part of Sculpture Milwaukee 2020


Guest Curators

Theaster Gates is a Chicago-based artist and curator whose practice encompasses sculpture, performance, and land development-based projects. His work has been widely exhibited in museums, galleries, and biennials nationally and internationally, including recent solo exhibitions at Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Michelle Grabner is a Wisconsin-based artist, writer, and curator. She co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial and was named a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow. Her work has been the subject of several national museum surveys. She is presently represented by James Cohan, New York and Green Gallery, Milwaukee.

Sculpture Milwaukee

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. Sculpture Milwaukee is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization funded through private grants, in-kind donations, and sponsorships. ​All of the artworks are available for purchase.