8 summer art experiences in Wisconsin

By Mary Louise Schumacher of the Journal Sentinel

Cutoffs and flip-flops may not seem like proper art-world attire, but in these warmer months we can be grateful we're not the art world proper. We do art differently in Wisconsin. Here are a few places to celebrate that fact this summer.

Lakefront Festival of Art

June 17-19, Milwaukee

What began as a modest gathering of artisans more than a half-century ago has grown into one of the best fairs of its kind anywhere. Get all of your Christmas shopping done in June during the three-day festival on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive. Tickets at the gate are $17, $15 for seniors and students, $10 for museum members and $25 for a three-day pass. More info: lfoa.mam.org.

Temporary Resurfacing

June 18, Milwaukee

For one night, from dusk until midnight, historic buildings along Mitchell St. will be "resurfaced" inside and out with video artworks created by regional and national artists. The film projections will fill entire facades or be found in intimate nooks, all looping simultaneously, for a truly unique outdoor public art event. More info: temporaryresurfacing.org.

Northwoods Art Tour

July 29-31

The northern latitudes serve as inspiration for countless artists in our state, and this self-guided tour of individual artists studios "up north" offers an opportunity to meet them in the spaces where they weave, paint and throw pots, among other things. More info: northwoodsarttour.com.

The Poor Farm Experiment

Aug. 5-7, Manawa

Every year, artists from across the country make a pilgrimage to the most unlikely of places to see avant-garde art: a 19th-century farm in rural Wisconsin. Set among farmlands, wetlands and small rivers in the central part of the state, the 8,000-square-foot venue was once part of the American Poor Farm System, an alternative to indentured labor.

The opening weekend is an auspicious art-world gathering brought down to earth with quintessential Midwesterness. In addition to taking in some of the most intriguing and talked about contemporary art in the United States today, visitors can camp out beneath spreading trees, float down the Little Wolf River and enjoy a brat with other art travelers.

The Poor Farm is at E6325 County Highway BB in Manawa. More info: poorfarmexperiment.org.

Bronzeville Week 

Aug. 6-13, Milwaukee

Once an enclave for culture and diverse art-loving audiences, the Bronzeville neighborhood will explore the area's artistic legacy, past and present, during this weeklong event. More info: milwaukee.gov/Bronzeville.

Eaux Claires

Aug. 12-13, Eau Claire

While many think of this quintessentially Wisconsin event as the music festival created by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, it might be better termed a culture festival. If nary a note were hummed, the art and film projects alone would warrant a sojourn to the Chippewa River. Tickets are $169 (two-day pass), $165 to $300 for camping, at eauxclaires.com.

Birds in Art and Artrageous

Sept. 10-11, Wausau

Like the famous return of swallows to San Juan Capistrano every year, humans have for more than 40 years flocked to Wausau at the end of the summer for the "Birds in Art" exhibit. Hosted by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, 700 N 12th St., the exhibit features 100 works selected by an esteemed jury. The opening weekend is also part of the citywide and family-friendly Artrageous event. More info: lywam.org.

Farm/Art DTour

Oct. 1-9, Reedsburg

Scanning the unglaciated farmlands of central Wisconsin for "farm forms" and contemporary art installations, it is remarkable how quickly everything begins to look like art. People bike and drive this self-guided art tour (usually about 50 miles), a marriage of culture and agriculture. Though the event doesn't officially begin until October, the art is usually under construction in late summer. More info: fermentationfest.com.

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About Mary Louise Schumacher

Mary Louise Schumacher is the Journal Sentinel's art and architecture critic. She writes about culture, design, the urban landscape and Milwaukee's creative community. Art City is her award-winning cultural page and a community of more than 20 contributing writers and artists. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


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