The Milwaukee Culture Cosmos: 4 Things on Our Radar in May

The newest Milwaukee barcade, a creepy-cool art exhibit and much more

Milwaukee’s Newest Barcade

We’re living in a golden age of neighborhood bar arcades. Since the gargantuan (though alcohol-free) Garcade in Menomonee Falls opened in 2017, several more spots have sprung up, each with its own distinct tone and following.

Cudahy’s The Very Famous X-Ray Arcade, which debuted inside the old Metal Grill down gritty South Packard Avenue in February, is unsurprisingly the coziest, with people playing old Nintendo games at the bar on a recent Friday night and Jonathan Richman tunes wafting in the background. X-Ray is a triptych of bar, arcade and performance areas – where local and sometimes national rockers periodically play.

Photo by Lucia Balisteri

A group of investors, including Nick Woods, bought the foreclosed property with the hopes of turning it into a renovated, all-ages club for shows while holding onto the old rock club’s wood-paneled mystique.

The arcade has what is probably the area’s only “Super Off-Road” cabinet, a beast of a three-player racing game where everyone steers little cars around a fixed dirt track. It’s about as close as you can get to playing in a sandbox as an adult.

The rest of the collection is more ’90s- than ’80s-focused, with “Gauntlet Legends,” “NBA Jam,” “Area 51” and other crowd-pleasers.

With few exceptions, the machines are free to play, making this the cheapest arcade in town (minus drink costs), and the machines are in excellent working order. They haven’t yet succumbed to the wobbly joystick syndrome you can run into at heavily trafficked places, and Woods plans to ramp up events to include movie nights and some kind of fun or show every night. Also coming soon: “Mortal Kombat II,” naturally. — Matt Hrodey

Milwaukee’s Best Dance Clubs, According to the Milwaukee Ballet Staff

Itzel Hernandez. Photo by Tom Davenport.

Inquiring minds want to know: Where do people who really know about dance go when they want to cut loose? Three Milwaukee Ballet staffers reveal their personal picks.

Name: Itzel Hernandez

Role at Ballet: Artist

“I like dancing at This Is It, close to Cathedral Square Park. They play a really diverse mix of music, and the energy is always positive.”

Name: Patrick Howell

Role at Ballet: Leading artist

“I like a good pub with a great jukebox. You can really make it your own dance floor.”

Name: Christy Siebers

Role at Ballet: Wardrobe mistress

“I go to Mad Planet when I want to dance. I love the throwback nights and the ‘battles,’ like Beyoncé vs. Rihanna. And I really like the ambiance the artwork and the neon colors create.”[alert type=white ]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May 30-June 2

In the Milwaukee Ballet’s season finale, Romantic Composer Felix Mendelssohn takes you to Shakespeare’s famed fairy kingdom.[/alert]

3 Things You’ll Learn at ‘The Power of Poison’

Historical and scientific anecdotes (also antidotes) abound in the Milwaukee Public Museum’s latest special exhibition, on view through July 7. The show is a visual delight, full of elaborate installations that mimic everything from tropical rainforests to 18th-century sailing ships. But it’s the unusual factoids scattered throughout that really bring the subject matter to life. — Lindsey Anderson

1. Cleopatra used to test out poisons on prisoners to figure out which ones were the most lethal, and least painful. Legend has it that the Egyptian queen knew that a Roman emperor was plotting her downfall and chose to let an asp – a very venomous snake – bite her instead of giving up her crown.

2. European aristocrats often drank out of jade goblets because they believed the mineral could purify their wine. 

3. Scientists are currently studying cone snails, whose venom paralyzes their prey. They hope to isolate each of the compounds in the venom and create an inexpensive, non-addictive anesthetic.

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Pick Your Poison

May 17

The Milwaukee Public Museum is opening up its doors to the 21+ crowd for a night of adults-only fun, complete with “toxic” tonics and food catered by the Zilli Hospitality Group.[/alert]

Behind the scenes: ‘Apartment 4’

For the next few weeks, you can tour the home of Florence Hasard, a French immigrant who disappeared mysteriously in 1942.

Photo courtesy of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Wander through her living room, where she worked as a seamstress, her neat bedroom, and the utter chaos of a studio, where she painted. The static of a radio makes you feel as if Hasard just stepped out, and might return any minute. The catch? She never existed at all.

The exhibition is the creation of Toronto artist Iris Häussler, whose work blurs art, fiction and reality. Florence’s story is just one chapter in Häussler’s larger project “Sophie La Rosiere,” which captures the life of another painter. Häussler developed both characters.

Her goal is to create an experience that evokes a “novel in three dimensions.” Häussler says that Florence “started as an imagination of a historical fictitious person. And she is taking on so much flesh now, through the research that has happened and through the material evidence that’s given to her character, that she is becoming reality as we speak.”

“Apartment 4: Iris Häussler and The Chipstone Foundation” will be on display at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan through June 23. The exhibition depicts the living space of Florence Hasard, a fictional French immigrant. — Abby Vakulskas

“The Culture Cosmos: May” appears in the May 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 29, or buy a copy at

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