The Milwaukee Culture Cosmos: 5 Things on Our Radar in June

Taking stock of an actor’s summer theater experiences, a new art gallery on Kilbourn Avenue and more

Saint Kate’s (Wisconsin’s First Arts Hotel) Opens

The dust has finally cleared at Wisconsin’s first arts hotel. Saint Kate is slated to open this month at 139 E. Kilbourn Ave. in the former InterContinental Hotel, and has already begun accepting reservations (from June 16 onward) for its 219 guest rooms, all of which were designed and decorated with input from local artists.

Fittingly, the hotel has also partnered with the Museum of Wisconsin Art, based in West Bend, to transform 1,700 square feet on its first floor into a satellite exhibition space with soaring ceilings and windows that overlook bustling Water Street.

What do we know about the space so far? It will be called MOWA | DTN and will feature four to five rotating exhibitions, showcasing works by Wisconsin artists. Visitors will be able to wander in off the street and admire the works free of charge while they’re waiting to check into their rooms or nab a table at the Neapolitan-style pizzeria on the same floor.

Laurie Winters, MOWA CEO and executive director, and J Tyler Friedman, a curator for MOWA, have been overseeing the gallery’s development. They’ve been working closely with Maureen Ragalie (formerly an associate director at the Green Gallery),  the curator of Saint Kate, and Linda Marcus, a local designer and “Project Runway” alumna who’s overseeing much of the hotel’s redesign. “We want more people to see how talented artists are here in Wisconsin,” Marcus said while discussing the project at a recent MOWA event. 

With such a prime piece of Downtown real estate, more exposure for our state’s best and brightest artists is all but ensured. — Lindsey Anderson

The hotel has added more than 100 works of art – like the ones by Jeffery Gibson, Alex Katz and John Mullins, seen here, top to bottom – to its permanent collection.

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts ‘Big Event,’ By the Numbers

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts’ Big Event is exactly that, a massive fundraiser that always sells out and always attracts many prominent arts philanthropists. This year, the organization’s founders – Kate and Don Wilson – are being honored alongside Milwaukee Ballet Artistic Director Michael Pink at the June 1 celebration. — Lindsey Anderson


years since the first event was held


months, or 273 days, of planning required for the big day


individuals and organizations that have been honored so far


tickets sold


people served by the Wilson Center annually

3 Summer Movie Picks from MKE Film

Summer’s finally here, and a slew of blockbusters and indie flicks along with it. We asked Miela Fetaw, Communications and Press Coordinator for Black Lens, what she’s most looking forward to, and why:

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Opening June 14

In gentrified San Francisco, Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming his childhood home, a Victorian house his grandfather built. When he learns the owners have vacated the place, he makes a move.


Opening June 28

Imagine waking up one morning to discover you’re the only person who remembers The Beatles. This musical comedy stars newcomer Himesh Patel as a musician who becomes famous for performing The Beatles’ songs as his own.

The Farewell

Opening July 12

This romantic comedy follows a family returning to China for a wedding disguised as a last goodbye to a grandmother recently diagnosed with cancer.

Catching Up With Violent Femmes

The Violent Femmes, with John Sparrow at right

Lifelong Milwaukeean John Sparrow, 42, is the fourth drummer in probably the city’s most famous musical export. We caught up with him as he prepared for the latest Violent Femmes tour and July album release.

Who still lives in Milwaukee?

I live in Shorewood. Brian (Ritchie) lives in Tasmania. Gordon (Gano) lives out West. I grew up on the South Side of Milwaukee. All my family is still on the South Side. I’ve got two boys, ages 9 and 11.

How did you get your foot in the door?

I was in Brian Ritchie’s solo band (for the album) Shakuhachi Club … he picked up his bass and turned on the Femmes’ first CD and said “Play along to this.” Thank God I knew all the songs already because I was a huge fan. And he handed me a piece of paper and said “We’re going on the road – this is the phone number of the tour manager.”

What’s it like to step up to a starring role in a beloved Milwaukee band?

For many years I just played cajon – that was when [original drummer Victor DeLorenzo] was in the band. And then they tried out another drummer [Brian Viglione] and he quit, and I told Brian maybe it’s time I take over. And that was it. I said, “Well, I have the gig now. I’m not going anywhere. You’re going to have to drag me out of here.” — Jason Kellner

James DeVita’s Role
of a Lifetime

DeVita in “A View from the Bridge”

If anyone could be called a triple threat, it’s James DeVita. The Long Island native turned Wisconsin transplant is an award-winning actor, director and author.

Though he’s traveled globally for his work, DeVita found a home at Spring Green’s American Players Theatre, where he’s built his reputation and repertoire over nearly 25 years. Picking favorite plays is like picking favorite children, he quips, but the ingredients that make a show stand out are the director, the cast and the design team.

Though many fit the (play) bill, one of those shows that stands out most in his mind is Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, in which DeVita played complex Brooklynite Eddie Carbone in a 2017 APT production.

“That just hit me at the right time of my life. It was also set in the neighborhood where my grandma grew up in New York,” he says. “They were an Italian family, and I’m New York Italian – it [sounds] silly, but things just line up sometimes, and I was exactly the right age for the guy.” — Abby Vakulskas

“Culture Cosmos” appears in the June 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning June 3, or buy a copy at

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