Elena Platonova is an art advisor, curator, and artist liaison in New York and London. Her Instagram handle is @ElenasArtAdventures.
“Avenue des Champ-Elysees. Park Avenue. Michigan Avenue… Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Avenue is emerging as one of the grandest,” say the organizers of Sculpture Milwaukee, an ambitious plan to install twenty-two monumental outdoor sculptures along a major downtown business thoroughfare. Art, despite the presence of a starchitect-designed art museum and a city with a history of wealthy collectors, is not synonymous with Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is better known for its numerous breweries, quality dairy products, and the world’s largest summer music festival.
Star Sculptors, Diverse Styles
The selection of sculptures chosen for the project represent a diverse list of names in terms of techniques, styles and artists’ backgrounds: from an oversized ‘liquid’ bronze tower by the Englishman Tony Cragg, which took four month of negotiations with the adjacent building to install, to Manolo Valdez’s stately Spanish queen gazing at the sleek new Northwestern Mutual building across the street (one of the project’s sponsors), to a bronze horse cast from twigs found in Montana woods by Deborah Butterfield. A white minimalist ‘zikkurat’ by Sol LeWitt was assembled locally according to the instructions provided by the artist’s estate. Santiago Calatrava’s spiky metal ring, reflected in the windows of the nearby Chase Bank, was previously displayed at New York’s Park Avenue. (Calatrava, a renowned Spanish architect, has a special relationship with the city, having built the Quadracci Pavilion for the art museum down the street—by now an architectural symbol of Milwaukee.) Alison Saar’s life-size dark-bronze sculpture with a glass-covered belly that lights up from the glow of fireflies at nighttime distantly resembles ancient monuments of fertility goddesses. This work, made by an African American artist, placed in the middle of downtown Milwaukee, could be a statement on the diversity, and segregation, of the city’s population, as well as symbolize hope for reconciliation of racial tensions. Works of three local artists—Jason S. Yi, Michelle Grabner and Paul Druecke, whose text-based “Shoreline Repast” refers to the local history—complement the multifarious roster.Continue Reading