15 Fall Arts Events You Won’t Want to Miss This Season

Everything wasn’t canceled this season. Here are our pick for your autumn entertainment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of press time in August, all of these events were still scheduled to take place. For the web version, we have included all 15 events, but a handful have been canceled. In those cases we have put a strikethrough over the text to reflect the cancelation.


FOR MORE FROM OUR FALL ARTS GUIDE, CLICK HERE

Pandemic-Proof Events to Check Out This Season

We doubt these events will be canceled. 

1. Milwaukee Talent Search

THROUGH SEPT. 7 | FISERV FORUM

Each year, Bucks fans compete for a chance to perform during one of the team’s home games. This year, the talent show is still taking place. But contestants are being asked to post their entries on Fiserv Forum’s social media channels or website.

2. “Safer at Home”

THROUGH OCT. 16 | DAVID BARNETT GALLERY

This group exhibition exploring ideas of domesticity – featuring prints by blue-chip artists like Henri de Toulouse Lautrec as well as ones by local legends like Della Wells – can be viewed in person or online. All of the works on view are also for sale.

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3. Labor of Love Music Festival

SEPT. 6 | JUST LIVE

For over a decade, the nonprofit Just Live has been raising funds for suicide prevention through an annual Labor of Love music festival. This year, the festival will be taking place entirely online, with Them Coulee Boys, Good Morning Bedlam, Jenna & Martin and the Georgia Rae Family Band headlining.

4. Wild Space Dance Company Drive-In Performance

SEPT. 16-17 | INTERSTATE PARKING LOT 

Wild Space Dance Company will be presenting another drive-in dance performance on Sept. 16-17 at the Interstate Parking Lot at 1301 N. Edison St.

5. Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies, in Conversation with Mark Clements

SEPT. 22 | BOSWELL BOOK CO.

The Milwaukee-raised, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author Ayad Akhtar has just published his sophomore novel, Homeland Elegies. Salman Rushdie describes the book as “An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer, and, beyond that, an unsparing examination of both sides of that fraught hyphenated reality.”

6. The Milwaukee Film Festival

OCT. 15-29 | MILWAUKEE FILM

For the first time ever, the city’s biggest annual film festival will be going 100% virtual, allowing ticket holders to stream the available titles from their own homes. The experience will be different, but attendees can still expect to see a diverse and thoughtful lineup of films.

7. NaNoWriMo

NOV. 1-30 | NANOWRIMO

Every year, hundreds of thousands of aspiring authors pledge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. The organization NaNoWriMo exists to help those writers hit their target word counts. And it creates regional writing groups (including one for residents of Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties) that wannabe novelists can join to get feedback and virtual support from other writers working nearby.

Art Shows to See This Season

Spacious, well-ventilated museums are a relatively safe COVID-era bet.

8. “Luba Lukova: Designing Justice”

SEPT. 16-FEB. 2 | JEWISH MUSEUM MILWAUKEE

The New York-based artist and activist Luba Lukova creates posters that are at once simple and thought-provoking. Through her work, Lukova often raises questions about classism, racism and jingoism.

9. “Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics”

THROUGH NOV. 22 | MUSEUM OF WISCONSIN ART

Nearly 200 pieces, from original works of art to newspaper clippings and other bits of assorted ephemera, have been gathered together for this large-scale group exhibition about the history of comics in Wisconsin. The show will be on view both at MOWA’s flagship West Bend location and at MOWA DTN, a satellite gallery space located inside the Saint Kate Arts Hotel.

Photo courtesy of Lynda Barry

10. “Milwaukee Women’s Art Library”

THROUGH DEC. 27 | CHARLES ALLIS ART MUSEUM

Curator Ashley Janke has been working with the staff of the Charles Allis Art Museum to create an archive of artworks made by Milwaukee-area women and non-binary people, with a special spotlight on those whose work might have otherwise gone unnoticed. The library is free to access and open during the museum’s regular hours.

Photo courtesy of The Charles Allis Art Museum

11. “Wisconsin Photography 2020”

SEPT. 2-NOV. 28 | THE RACINE ART MUSEUM

The jury assembled to judge this competition and exhibition received more than 1,000 entries from photographers living and working throughout the state. That means that the 85 pieces that made it into the show can safely be considered among the best of the best.

Photo by Larry Zamba courtesy of Racine ARt Museum

12. “Two Edmunds: Fitzgerald and Lewandowski – Their Mark on Milwaukee”

SEPT. 10-DEC. 20 | THE GROHMANN MUSEUM AT THE MILWAUKEE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

This show offers a glimpse – through Edmund Lewandowski’s paintings of Milwaukee’s industrial past – at the Edmund Fitzgerald and other iron-sided ships that used to criss-cross the Great Lakes

More to See

The Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum has also opened its doors to visitors, and its permanent collection is currently on view. Visit mam.org to learn more about upcoming exhibitions.

Catch Them If You Can

There are some exciting performances planned for the fall season. Here are our top picks; fingers crossed that they will actually take place.

13. Murder on the Orient Express

NOV. 10-DEC. 13 | MILWAUKEE REPERATORY THEATER

The Rep is reprising Agatha Christie‘s classic tale of death, deceit and daring detective work into a rollicking whodunit.

14. The Christians

NOV. 19-DEC. 13 | NEXT ACT THEATRE

A pastor’s impassioned sermon stirs up a debate among his congregants in this deeply moving drama set inside a megachurch.

15. De Waart and Brautigam

NOV. 20-22 | MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Virtuoso pianist Ronald Brautigam performs Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major” with the MSO and its Music Director Laureate Edo de Waart at the Bradley Symphony Center.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.