Milwaukee, Wisconsin certainly lives up to its moniker, ‘Art City’. World-class events like Gallery Night and Day and institutions such as the Milwaukee Art Museum have earned it a prominent spot in the eyes of art aficionados around the globe, too. Here’s our cultural guide to the 10 best contemporary art galleries in Milwaukee.
The 27-year-old Dean Jensen Gallery is a reflection of its founder and director’s time as an integral part of the Milwaukee arts scene: Clocking years as a Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design professor and art critic at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dean Jensen has fine-tuned his knowledge of the art world and brought the finest to his gallery space. While the gallery is often adorned with pieces by blue-chip artists like Chuck Close, Kiki Smith and Ed Paschkem as well as ‘outsider artists’ like French drawer and painter Gerard Sendrey, Wisconisn artists are never neglected: Kyle Fitzpatrick, a Milwaukee-born painter who often incorporates organic materials into his work; painter Nancy Mladenoff, who works with oil paints and spray paint, an uncommon duo; and Milwaukee native Jon Schueler, who painted expressive watercolor pieces, are just some of the many locals who have contributed to the gallery’s popular collections.
Dean Jensen Gallery, 759 N Water Street, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 278 7100
Finding original pieces for a home or business can be a daunting task for many aspiring art aficionados, but at Gallery 505 they’ll receive personal advice to connect them with artists who capture their aesthetic vision and connect with their tastes. The warm, inviting gallery believes ‘selecting a painting… should always be an exciting journey’, and their wide selection of paintings, pastel drawings, leather goods and glass art makes choosing a piece just that—thought-provoking, engaging and rewarding. The gallery currently has the works of nearly 70 artists on display, among them the bold landscapes of painter Mark Berens, the figurative etchings of Serge Firer and the mystical, supple glass bowls and vases of David Thai.
Gallery 505, 517 E Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 962 6302
The portrait may be one of the most popular forms of photography today—just look at the pomp surrounding profile pictures on Facebook, as one example. The Portrait Society Gallery is dedicated to the distinctive genre of portraiture, exploring modern usages as well as its historical roots and looking at ‘the concepts and ideas of making art about identity, presence, social interaction and community’, as its mission statements says. ‘[The portrait] is…a transactional exchange between two or more human beings. It is the only art form that depends on this kind of intimacy.’ Stop by for its ongoing project, Fop and Hounds, a monthly discussion led by a person and their pooch, whose breed and personality is paired with wine. Exhibits in the past have included Natural History: Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman, a series of self-portraits taken on the artists’ local farm, and a show by Milwaukeean Mike Ringo White, who creates collages from refuse found on Lake Michigan’s beaches.