The Arts Page | Exclusive | Sculpture Milwaukee Walking Tour 2018

The best way to experience Sculpture Milwaukee
is by wandering down Wisconsin Avenue to enjoy the artworks up close. Come now and get a personal walking tour of
this wide variety of art with sculpture Milwaukee’s project director, Marilu Knode. [Music] Marilu Knode:
Sculpture Milwaukee is in its second year of bringing world-class artwork to downtown
Milwaukee along Wisconsin Avenue. This year, we have 21 pieces. We’re standing in front of Robert Indiana’s
LOVE sculpture. Indiana started making works based on the
word love in 1961. Indiana was thinking about the complexities
of love in the 1960s, when America was really in a lot of turmoil. He’s made this in different sizes, in different
colors, so you may have seen them elsewhere. Kiki Smith has done works based on the body,
but most recently, she’s been looking at Alice in Wonderland. So this Alice behind me is actually based
on the story by Lewis Carroll. Alice is floating, she’s a little girl, but
a giant shape. And one of the most important things that
outdoor sculpture does is it changes our sense of scale. Because of the white paint that the artist
has used over her bronze sculpture, she really floats in the landscape. Because of the color, she really stands out
from quite a distance. This is the work Reason to Be, by Jessica
Jackson Hutchins. This is actually a decommissioned bus shelter. She created some beautiful stained glass windows
for the shelter to replace the advertisements that we normally see. Inside of the piece, she’s put a hammock,
in this business district, as a chance for the workers downtown to really take a break
from their work environment to maybe dream, maybe have a nap. Magdalena Abakanowicz is a Polish artist who
immigrated to the United States after World War II. Her work is very often these headless figures,
very deeply textured because of the burlap she uses to form them. But her work is often about the inhumanity
of humans towards one another. What’s unique about this piece, too, is if
you go around the back, it’s hollow. It’s quite dramatic in art history when the
body moves forward and the light breaks the plane. Then this is Erwin Wurm’s Half Big Suit. Erwin Wurm is an Austrian artist. And what’s interesting about Wurm is that
the works are both a little comedy and a little tragedy. We see a guy in a jaunty, pink suit, like
casual Friday, and yet, he’s missing part of his body. So we, adapting this really very silly walk
but in fact, he looks like he’s about to topple over. It makes you think about the really tricky
balance that we all strike in our daily lives. Richard Deacon’s piece, Big Time. Deacon is a very well-known British artist. What I love about this piece is that it sort
of defies categorization. It looks like it’s full of air, and it might
float away. It looks like a bracelet that I have at home. Deacon is a really, broadly generous artist
who really wants you to bring your own meaning to the work itself. Liz Glynn’s Untitled, you can see it is just
a very interesting and distorted, figurative piece of bronze sculpture, very traditional. But you’ll notice there’s some really very
odd elements about it. Liz Glynn has a cast from Auguste Rodin’s
Burghers of Calais to create a series of artworks. And she followed Rodin’s process of reusing
the different body parts of his work. I think that this body’s attenuated look maybe
reflects some of the things that a lot of our fellow citizens are going through. Ghada Amer’s Blue Bra Girls. Ghada is an Egyptian artist who grew up in
France and she really lives between East and West. Ghada’s work is really always focused on the
female form. Her figures are hidden by the materials that
the piece is made from. So you can actually walk around the piece
and see her women sort of waving to us from inside. Sanford Biggers’ Bam, Seated Warrior. When I was working on bringing this piece
to Milwaukee, I always sort of assumed that the warrior was a male. But when we opened the crate, we discovered
it was a female. Sanford Biggers is an African-American artist
who has been taking African power figures and then shooting them. And so if you look closely at this piece,
you’ll notice there’s part of an arm and a leg missing. So Sanford Biggers is really evoking the power
of African figures in our American history. Tony Tasset’s Mood Sculpture, this is a piece
that we had in our first Sculpture Milwaukee. And the piece overwintered with us because
we just loved it and thought it brought some really great cheer to downtown Milwaukee. Tony is using the smiley face, which really
is the first American emoji. It was designed in 1963. He stacked them, but he starts with the purple
face on the bottom, looks pretty unhappy, and goes all the way up to yellow on top. So I think, well, where am I on this scale
of happy to sad? And I often end up at orange. And evidently psychologists have said that
most people find them on the orange of daily life. And that’s actually pretty great. Cuban artist Yoan Capote’s work, Nostalgia. So what you see is a suitcase filled with
bricks. This is a bronze cast from the suitcase that
Capote used to use when he was going back and forth between Cuba and New York. These bricks are actually from New York City. In a way, when he was moving back and forth
between the two countries, because of their geopolitical split, whenever he would go to
one place, he was cut off from the other. Untitled, by the Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. He uses clay to create these extremely large
cubes and then he builds a construction out of them. If you look very closely, you can see the
different colors of soil and clay that Sodi is using to create his cubes. Not one surface is the same. Just think about the scale of how our cities
have been formed over the last 100 years versus the previous 200,000 years. This year, we’ve commissioned a duo, Shana
McCaw and Brent Budsberg, to create the piece behind me, called Skew. The wood is from a giant white pine tree that
fell down on Brent’s family’s farm, up north. And so they milled the wood and brought it
here. Buildings slump and change shape under the
forces of weather and nature. The way that Brent built it is that it’s pegged
with dowels, and so it’s very, very sturdy. So this piece is really about the discrepancy
between old forms of construction and the landscape and the urban environment that we
live in today. Hank Willis Thomas’ work, Liberty. On top of it is an arm with a basketball,
and this is based on a photograph taken of one of the Harlem Globetrotters in 1986. So Hank is looking at a historic picture,
a very well-known male athlete, and also the Statue of Liberty. But it really does make us wonder about what
role sports play in shaping what we think of as a hero in American culture. This work by Tom Friedman is called Hazmat
Love. So it makes you really think about hazardous
waste. But what’s really funny about this Tom Friedman
is as you get really close to it, you can see that the piece is made out of tin foil. Things from the kitchen that have been shaped
into those characters. Hazmat Love, do we love the disasters that
we create in our own world? Is it a baking disaster? Is a muffin muff up? It’s a really fun piece, and really bears
a lot of close examination. Behind me is a work by Sol LeWitt called Tower
(Gubbio). LeWitt, who was one of the founders of minimalism
and conceptual art. So he basically makes drawings and allows
other people to execute his work. The piece gets narrower but taller as it reaches
up. LeWitt is talking about the stripped-down
city building and what makes a city building. Bernar Venet’s work, 97.5 Degree Arc x 9. So as a minimalist, Venet’s describing the
work to you. So this is an arc of 97.5 degrees, and there
are nine of these arcs. The artist is dealing with the urban landscape
around us. He’s using typical building material, steel,
and doing something very playful with them. And ultimately, it looks as if the wind is
blowing these very, very rigid elements into an arc, as if they’re going with the wind. Behind me is an artwork by the British artist,
Gary Hume, called Bud, Bronze. He’s taken something that is normally very
bright and made it a very dark, very somber color. There’s something really lovely about this
piece along the avenue, as well, where we’re just talking about buildings and concrete
and hard landscapes. It’s really nice to see this piece honor the
landscape that exists underneath all our concrete. American artist John Henry has been making
these large-scale, geometric abstractions since the 1970s. He also makes these steel materials very expressive. So this bright color of Zach’s Tower is a
really very cheerful way to look up through the sky. Marker #2, Mel is based in New York City. And he is very well-known for using found
materials, and it’s made of cement. It seems very heavy, in a way. And yet, because of the way the artist has
managed it, it also seems very light. On the ground below me is a work by Serbian
artist Ana Prvacki. So the shadow on the ground is actually of
a very well-known sculpture, Michelangelo’s David. And so, in a really very humorous way, Ana
Prvacki, as an artist, is talking about how the shadow of very famous artworks like this
really weigh heavy on every generation of artists, who are trying to make something
substantial and meaningful. You’ve seen 21 works by 22 different artists. Everything in our city landscape was designed
by someone who thinks about function but also beauty. And so Sculpture Milwaukee is bringing another
layer to the already very busy environment that Milwaukee has in its downtown area. [Music]

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