Road Trip: What’s On In Wisconsin

Painting by Charles Munch of Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee


This fall we are highlighting an abundance of art worth travelling a short distance for, and Wisconsin offers spaces, exhibitions and special programs you can visit again and again. Whether you are visiting Milwaukee or Madison for the weekend or looking to add stops of interest on longer drives to or from the northwoods, there are many galleries and art centers to visit and museums to explore, along with public art. – GV


Sam Gilliam, Butterfly Days, 1986. Printed acetate and painted wood on printed, handmade couched paper with string embedded, 43 x 53 1/2 inches. Gift of Sue Steinmann and Bill Weege, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.


Admission to the The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) is always free, and when you are there you can enjoy their remarkable permanent collections of art by Chicago Imagists, from Roger Brown to Karl Wirsum and Gladys Nilsson, as well as Mexican Modernists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The Museum has a robust contemporary exhibition program as well. Three of their shows to catch this fall include: RECOLLECT: Sam Gilliam (thru March 3, 2024); Federico Uribe: Metamorphosis | Metamorfosis (Sept 30–May 26, 2024) and imaginary I (Nov 11, 2023 – April 7, 2024).


On the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison is The Chazen Museum of Art, sited between two lakes and within walking distance of the state capitol. The Chazen is the largest collecting museum in the Big 10 conference, though visiting during game day in football season could be tricky. Whenever you do visit you will get to explore approximately 26,000 works of art that make up the second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin.


On view thru Nov 10 at Tandem press is hidden figures: unveiling selfhood
Curated by Teyjhana Barton-Neal, Curatorial Intern Summer 2023

Tandem Press is also affiliated with UW-Madison. A professional print publisher and gallery, Tandem invites internationally renowned artists to create original fine art prints in its printmaking studio. Visitors may tour the printmaking studio, view gallery exhibitions, and browse the print study center.Tandem Press has produced original fine art editions with over 100 artists, including Derrick Adams, Jim Dine, Jeffrey Gibson, Sam Gilliam, Michelle Grabner, Mickalene Thomas, and others.


Rose B. Simpson: Counterculture installation view at the Art Preserve, 2023. Rose B. Simpson, Counterculture (detail), 2022; dyed concrete, steel, clay, and cable; 128 x 24 x 11 in. each. Courtesy of the artist, Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Sheboygan is home to both the John Michael Kohler Art Center (JMKAC), and the companion Art Preserve, which opened in 2021 and is the world’s first museum to focus entirely on work from art environments. In addition to a regular exhibition program, the Art Center offers a Resource Center with research opportunities as well as the hands-on Social STUDIO for all ages that ties-in with current exhibitions. On view through February 25, 2024 is Rose B. Simpson: Counterculture. Counterculture was created for and originally installed on the ancestral lands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, in present-day Williamstown, Massachusetts. The sculptures’ move to Wisconsin traces the path of forced removal experienced by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, which today is located on their reservation in northeastern Wisconsin, with members also living in other parts of Wisconsin, the United States, and the world.




Amy Sherald (American, b. 1973), Sometimes the King is a Woman, 2019, Oil on canvas, 54” x 43” x 2 1/2” © Amy Sherald. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth


This fall, the Milwaukee Art Museum presents 50 Paintings, a landmark survey, on view Nov. 17, 2023–June 23, 2024, featuring recent pieces by 50 artists working today. Eschewing curatorial narratives and thematic groupings, 50 Paintings invites visitors to explore a wide array of artistic styles and strategies, engage in close looking, and formulate their own assessments of painting as it is practiced today. From internationally recognized names like Cecily Brown, David Diao, Nicole Eisenman, Judy Ledgerwood, and Amy Sherald to rising talents like Jake Troyli, Carmen Neely, GaHee Park, and Cinga Samson, the 50 artists in 50 Paintings are each represented by one painting created in the past five years. Works on view reflect a range of painterly styles, expressions, and concepts, but all were created through the application of oil or acrylic paint with a brush to stretched canvases or other traditional painting techniques. The exhibition is co-curated by Margaret Andera, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, and artist and scholar Michelle Grabner. 


On view through October 28 at James May Gallery in Milwaukee is "The Architecture of Everything" featuring Ellen Weider, Damien Hoar de Galvan, & Liz Rundorff Smith  


A group of galleries based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward hosts a bustling art walk four times a year called Gallery Night MKE. This fall’s art walk just took place this past weekend,  October 20 and 21, and the next Gallery Night MKE will be in January 2024. Spaces to visit during Gallery Night, or any time, include James May Gallery, Lilypad West, Portrait Society (which held an exhibition of works by Phyllis Bramson this summer) and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). Tory Folliard Gallery celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. A local gallery with a national reputation, Folliard’s program emphasizes Midwest artists, from John Wilde to Tom Uttech and Fred Stonehouse. 


Milwaukee’s gallery scene is as old as it is changeable. David Barnett Gallery has been open since 1966, when its namesake founder was still a college student. The Green Gallery has two locations (East, and West) in the city. This summer they the hosted the first solo presentation of Ugo Rondinone’s work in Wisconsin, Milwaukee landscapes, held in conjunction with Rondinone’s curation of Nature Doesn’t Know About Us, the 2022/2023 edition of the city-wide public art exhibition, Sculpture Milwaukee. The Suburban, co-founded by artists and curators Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam first in 1999 in Oak Park–an actual suburb of Chicago–then relocated to Milwaukee in 2005. It is a project space that invites artists to engage with whatever possibilities inspire them.


Kaspar Müller, LongevityOctober 6 - November 11, 2023 is on view at The Green Gallery 


Milwaukee’s specialized museums offer windows on the city’s collecting history, such as the Charles Allis Art Museum and the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, the latter designed as a private home by architect David Adler to resemble an Italian villa, with Lake Michigan standing in for the Meditteranean Sea. The Grohmann Museum, on the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSoE), counts more than 1,700 works of art from 1580 to the present that document the evolution of organized work from manpower and horsepower to water, steam, and electrical power. The Haggerty Museum, Marquette University’s teaching museum, serves its students as well as the community through its collection. 


Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, artist-in-residence at the Saint Kate Arts Hotel

If gallery and museum visits don’t offer enough art for you, you can stay downtown at the Saint Kate Arts Hotel which features artistic-themed guest rooms and an exhibition program. It is among the first hotels to broadly celebrate the arts in its many forms – from painting and sculpture to music, poetry, and performing arts. To further our connection and support of the arts, Saint Kate is proud to announce its Artist in Residence program. The residency is an opportunity available once per year for artists working in any genre or medium in the Midwest. The program supports artists by providing studio space, a stipend, consistent access to the Saint Kate Curator, and networking opportunities. The structure of The Artist in Residence program and the artist’s duties reflect the core values of Saint Kate: Creativity, Curiosity, Community, Collaboration, and Common Ground. The current resident artist is Anwar Floyd-Pruitt


Left: detail of Fractal Disruptions by Jennifer Mannebach. Mixed media, 2023.
Right: Chromatic Spectrum Landscape (fig. 3) by Christine Forni. Glass, porcelain, minerals paint skins and metal, 2023.


In Downtown Racine OS Projects focuses on artists living and working in the Chicago-Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee urban corridor. Opening November 11 at the gallery is Thresholds, an exhibition featuring the work of Christine Forni and Jennifer Mannebach. Nearby in Racine Mahogany Gallery focuses on exhibiting the work, experiences art and historical narratives of Black and brown visual artists. The Racine Art Museum is home to America’s largest contemporary craft collection, with  over 10,000 pieces. RAM hosts 15–20 exhibitions per year.


To keep up to date with CGN's calendar of art events happening in Wisconsin, click here.