18 Arts Events to Road Trip to From Milwaukee This Fall

Augment your culture calendar with the best of what Chicago, Madison and the Twin Cities have to offer. They are all just a car ride away!

Edited by Lindsey Anderson

with Aimee Levitt, Pamela Hill Nettleton and Robert Thomas


Expo Chicago
September 13-17 · Navy Pier Festival Hall

135 galleries from 25 different countries will descend upon Navy Pier, attracting tens of thousands of visitors over the course of this five-day event. Stop by to see what’s new and noteworthy in the art world.

Riot Fest
September 15-17 · Douglas Park

After enduring youthful crowds at festivals like Eaux Claires and Lollapalooza all summer long, Gen X-ers finally get their reward: for one glorious weekend, they can pretend it’s the 90s again. Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Jawbreaker headline. All that and carnival rides too. Bring it on.

Chicago Architecture Biennial
September 16, 2017-January 7, 2018 · Chicago Cultural Center

The finest minds in architecture ponder the influence of the past and look toward the future while enjoying spirited discussions and exhibitions, including a pop-up show curated by Katell Jaffrès, of the Palais de Tokyo. Johnston Marklee, the architectural firm celebrated for its design of the Menil Drawing Institute, oversees the event this year.

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends
October 10 · Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Is this an early sign that the Cubs won’t make it to the post-season? Why else would Murray, their most ardent fan, tour the country reading selections of prose and poetry to the accompaniment of Vogler’s cello?

Chicago International Film Festival
October 12-26 · Various locations

At the longest-running international competitive film festival in North America, you’ll find both low- and high-budget films and many world premieres. One of the most anticipated is Tea Time, a poignant Chilean documentary that has won several awards since its 2014 release.

Chicago Humanities Festival
October 28-November 12 · Various locations

Its time for Chicago’s annual celebration of ideas. Al Gore, Samantha Power and Jill Soloway (“I Love Dick” and “Transparent”) are among this year’s crop of speakers, who will consider belief, a theme that leads “into the ambiguity of our modern world,” says artistic director Jonathan Elmer.

The Minutes
November 9-December 31

MacArthur fellow Twyla Tharp to create a performance inspired by the many artists she collaborated with and the more than 160 dances she choreographed over the course of her long career.


Modest Mouse with Gogol Bordello
September 30 · Breese Stevens Field

In addition to hosting soccer and ultimate games, Madison’s historic 91-year-old sports facility is now an outdoor concert venue. This fall brings the catchy, angst-y rock of Portland’s Modest Mouse (of “Float On” fame). Come early for the delirious Gypsy punk rock of opening act Gogol Bordello.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
October 3-8 · Overture Hall

This 2014 Tony Award-winning musical is one killer show. The high-spirited black comedy follows Monty, ninth in line to inherit his family’s fortune, who decides to knock off the eight relatives in his way. The eight unlucky victims are played, to great effect, by the same actor.

Gallery Night
October 6 · Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

MMoCA organizes this biannual event, for which the museum and galleries across the city throw open their doors for special evening exhibitions. After you’re done touring, come back to the museum for a late-night after party with live music and drinks.

Wisconsin Book Festival
November 2-5 · Madison Central Library

Authors and book lovers come together for four days of free lectures, workshops and the occasional beer tasting. Guests of honor in past years have included actor Jesse Eisenberg, comedian Phoebe Robinson and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Johnson.

Brad Mehldau Trio
December 2 · Wisconsin Union Theater – Fredric March Play Circle

One of the most influential jazz pianists of the last quarter century, Mehldau has turned everything from Cole Porter tunes to Radiohead songs into eloquent jazz improvisations. He returns with his longtime trio in support of Blues and Ballads, a new album of acoustic jazz covers.


Anne Collier: Women with Cameras (Self-Portrait)
September 7-December 17 · Minneapolis Institute of Art

Anne Collier re-shoots widely circulated, commercial photographs of women holding cameras (Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Faye Dunaway and others) reframing the photos as objects themselves and raising questions about sexism.

Vänskä Plays Sibelius: the Minnesota Orchestra
September 23 · 10:30 p.m. Orchestra Hall

The Minnesota Orchestra and its music director, Osmo Vänskä, won a Grammy for the recording of Sibelius Symphonies 1 and 4, and The New Yorker‘s Alex Ross calls Vänskä a “genius Sibelius interpreter” who “rocked the house.” Vänskä, also an accomplished clarinetist, is slated to play Sibelius chamber music with violinist Elina Vähälä in a late-night post-concert concert.

The Saint Paul Art Collective’s Fall Art Crawl
October 13-15 · Various locations

More than 300 artist participate in this acclaimed 25-year-old festival attracting some 20,000 visitors. Visit galleries throughout the city, enjoy live dance and music, meet studio artists and buy art.

Blithe Spirit at the Guthrie Theater
November 25, 2017–January 14, 2018 · The Guthrie Theater

English playwright and famed wit Noël Coward was “determined to travel through life first-class.” And, thanks to the smash-hit success of this spooky romp through the supernatural, he was able to do just that. The Guthrie is staging his escapist masterpiece for the first time in 20 years.

Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950
Walker Art Center · November 11, 2017–March 18, 2018

The largest U.S. exhibition of Cuban art since the MoMA presented Modern Cuban Painters in 1944 includes more than 100 works of design, photography, video, performance art and painting created by more than 50 artists living and working in post-revolutionary Cuba. Before or after, check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden across the street.

The Phantom of the Opera
The Orpheum Theatre · December 13-3

A fresh Phantom for a new generation of fans, this production by Cameron Macintosh features re-imagined costumes, lighting, choreography and scenic design. This Broadway tour doesn’t come to Milwaukee or Chicago, so see it in Minneapolis.

Your 2017 Milwaukee Fall Arts Guide

This story is part of the 2017 Fall Arts Guide feature in our September issue. Click to read the rest of the guide.

‘Fall Arts Guide’ appears in the September 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning August 28, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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