By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 04, 2021 at 8:25 AM

Sculpture Milwaukee is back and this year it has two guest curators.

Renowned Chicago artist Theaster Gates and Milwaukee’s Michelle Grabner, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, will serve as guest curators for the fifth annual open-air art gallery on the streets of Downtown Milwaukee.

This is also the first year that Sculpture Milwaukee will have a theme – “there is this We,” a line from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire” – and a guest artist, Lauren Yeager, as well as community collaboration and activities with partners.

“The poetics of perseverance and determination vibrate in the art that Theaster and I have selected,” said Grabner, in a statement released Tuesday. “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."

A series of new sculptures will be installed starting in May. They will join 15 works that will remain on view from last year’s show.

Among the new sculptures are works by Thaddeus Mosley, Jason Pickleman, and Brad Kahlhamer. The full roster also includes Kevin Beasley, Betty Gold, Allison Janae Hamilton, Kara Hamilton, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, Deborah Kass, Matthias Neumann, Virginia Overton, Dan Peterman, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, John Riepenhoff, Christine Tarkowski  and Lauren Yeager.

The works will remain on view through autumn 2022.    

A work by Betty Gold will be installed permanently on the Milwaukee Art Museum campus as part of Sculpture Milwaukee’2021.             
“This extraordinary exhibition could not be more timely,” said Sculpture Milwaukee Board Chair Wayne Morgan.

“On the heels of the hardships wrought by the pandemic, as well as issues of racial inequities brought to the forefront via the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, Theaster and Michelle are inviting us to consider some incredibly challenging questions and give thought to how we intend to move forward as a community and as a country.”

According to the statement, “A host of local collaborations are highlighted throughout the exhibition.Works by Salvador Jiménez-Flores were produced through the Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Artist Matthias Neumann will be traveling to Milwaukee to construct his work on site with the help of architecture students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“In addition, an array of community engagement programs are slated for the Summer and Fall in conjunction with new and returning partners, including the Urban Ecology Center, TRUE Skool, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, 3rd Street Market Hall, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.”

“We demonstrated last year we can safely create and implement a full, in-person cultural experience in the midst of the pandemic, while utilizing our unique exhibition to reflect and contribute to the most important community conversations. This has created a pathway for an even more robust experience in 2021,” said Executive Director Brian Schupper.

“As Milwaukee continues its post-pandemic recovery, Sculpture Milwaukee is a destination in and of itself, and an invitation to re-discover and re-consider our shared urban center.”

Watch for a full  list of works and details on installation coming soon.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.