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Urban artwork gives downtown MKE some color

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Marquette students who walk toward the lake, down Wisconsin Avenue, may notice some things that are a out of the ordinary lining the sidewalks: 22 large sculptures. These sculptures were put up in June as a part of Sculpture Milwaukee, the largest public outdoor art gallery in the world.

“The project was really implemented to bring attention to Milwaukee as a community that has a great appreciation for the arts and for culture and to bring nationally-recognized artists and their work to Milwaukee,” executive director of Milwaukee Downtown, Beth Weirick said.

While this is only the first year of Sculpture Milwaukee, Milwaukee Downtown said that it wants the project becomes an annual event — one that puts the city’s urban artwork on par with places like Paris or Chicago.

“(Sculpture Milwaukee) engages people so they can experience the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum and then continue that experience of art but in the public realm as they traverse westward on Wisconsin Avenue,” Weirick said.

Weirick said Sculpture Milwaukee “brings public art really to the forefront of Wisconsin Avenue, which is our community’s living room.” The project, which officially opened June 1, has brought sculptures by artists from various places, such as the United States to South Korea to Brazil.

Josie Zucca, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, called the first sculpture she saw “the unicorn horn.” The sculpture she was referring to, Vortex, is on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and 4th Street.

“I love the new sculptures downtown,” Zucca said. “They’re all unique and show that Milwaukee is making an effort to include and draw attention to artwork.”

But others disagreed with Zucca’s sentiment.

“I thought they were trying to hard to be unique and different,” Lauren Dod, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said. “They seemed to be too abstract to really convey any kind of meaning, which is what art should be about.”

Dod also said that while she wasn’t a fan of the statues themselves, she believed that the overall idea of Sculpture Milwaukee was a good one.

Weirick said that she hopes “as Summerfest is to music lovers, Sculpture Milwaukee will be to art lovers.”

Sculpture Milwaukee runs through October 22.

Photo by Olivia Qualls

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