Meet Sculpture Milwaukee’s New Curatorial Team

Get to know the minds who are choosing the designs for Milwaukee.

If you know much about contemporary art, you’ve probably heard the names Theaster Gates and Michelle Grabner. They’re both kind of a big deal. And the fact that they’re co-curating the outdoor art exhibition Sculpture Milwaukee together this summer is a big deal too.

Grabner, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow who runs a gallery in town called The Suburban, creates introspective, pattern-like artworks across a variety of media. “My favorite medium is whatever I am doing this week,” she says, “until I pick up a paintbrush or something next week.” She’s also a member of Sculpture Milwaukee’s board, and she’s known Gates, who lives in Chicago, for years. So she decided to ask him, on the board’s behalf, to curate the show this year.



Gates, who is known for blurring the lines between art and activism by transforming underused buildings into artworks, said that he’d take on the job if she did too.

So for many months, the two of them have been talking through each work under consideration. They don’t try to understand everything about a piece right away, but they do try to determine its depth and complexity, and contemporary relevance. Grabner says they’re looking for artists “who are addressing the cultural conditions of the moment, which includes diversity, equity and issues around anti-racism.”

We can’t wait to see their final selections, many of which are being installed this month.

For more information about Sculpture Milwaukee, visit


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

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