Milwaukee Fall Arts Guide 2019: September

West Side Story, Doors Open Milwaukee and more this month in fall arts.

By Lindsey Anderson, Matt Hrodey, Adam Rogan and Hannah Hoffmeister

Can’t-Miss Events This Month

Fresh Coast Jazz Festival

The first-ever Fresh Coast Jazz Festival is bringing some of the biggest names in jazz and R&B to the city. The locally based multi-instrumentalist Chris Crain closes out the festival with a performance at Uihlein Hall this afternoon.

Sept. 1 at the Marcus Center

“Portrait of Milwaukee”

MAM curators scoured the museum’s collection – some works date back to the 1930s, others are from well-known contemporary artists – to put together this photographic exhibition. Collectively, the works tell the story of who and what made Milwaukee the city it is today.

Sept. 6-March 1 at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum
Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum

Masur Takes the Reins

Since we learned last year that Ken-David Masur had been named the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s new director, we’ve been awaiting his first concert of the inaugural season. And here it is. Tonight he’ll be conducting pieces – like Schumann’s only piano concerto – that inspire him personally.

Sept. 13-15 at the Marcus Center

Hip-Hop DNA

Close to 30 musicians, including local favorites like Kiran Vee and WebsterX, are taking the stage tonight to pay tribute to hip-hop greats past and present. Expect a roster of songs as diverse as hip-hop itself, with many different decades and cultures represented.

Sept. 13 at the Marcus Center



West Side Story

The Rep set a new record this year, earning nearly $300,000 in ticket revenue for this iconic musical – which will also be receiving a Broadway revival next year – in a single day. Evidently the rest of Milwaukee loves dance-fighting and stories about star-crossed lovers as much as we do.

Sept. 17-Oct. 27 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Photo courtesy of Todd Rosenberg

The Revolutionists

Milwaukee’s reigning drama queen, Laura Gordon, directs this delightfully anachronistic female-powered play. Set in France during the revolution of 1793, the comedy centers on the exploits of four women – an assassin, a playwright, a rebel and a former queen – as they attempt to restore peace to Paris.

Sept. 26-Oct. 20 at the Next Act Theatre

Vision Quest

In the mid-1980s, Tom Uttech was hunting for a new studio to replace the serviceable but constrained space he kept near UW-Milwaukee, where he was an art professor. He and his wife came across a barn in Saukville, with an extremely fat, friendly dog sitting outside – a detail he remembers vividly to this day.

Animals figure frequently in Uttech’s work, and the dog turned out to be a good omen – a sign that, with its high ceilings, open spaces and proximity to nature, the barn would provide the perfect setting for creating the massive, naturalistic works of art for which he is known.

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Wisconsin Art

Uttech is one of the state’s most successful landscape painters, though his scenes aren’t fully of this world: To varying degrees throughout his career, his lands (the basic seeds of which he began painting in grade school) have contained strange and otherworldly elements that stem from the essential oddness of Wisconsin. “There’s a thread of unreality here,” he says, “and I bit on it.”

Uttech is an unusually scientific painter, interested in migratory species – like Audubon on a vision quest. A new exhibition on view at the Museum of Wisconsin Art from Sept. 28 to Jan. 12, “Tom Uttech: Into the Woods,” invites the public into the vision. His photography is also included in the form of original silver prints and digital photos, and the museum commissioned a new painting, “Nin Gassinsibingwe” (Ojibwe for “I Wipe My Tears”), for the show.

The retrospective allowed Uttech to rediscover his own work, including some finely painted, fantastical pieces he had stashed in unheated storage. At some point, he says, “You have to have a break from the fastidiousness.”

Matt Hrodey

What to See at Doors Open This Year

Doors Open Milwaukee is a a free, community-wide event that gives architecture buffs a chance to explore some of the city’s most beautiful buildings – is coming back to town Sept. 28-29. We asked architect Brian Hatzung, a principal with Zimmerman Architectural Studios who also serves on the board of directors for Historic Milwaukee Inc., for his must-hit list.

 Lindsey Anderson

Milwaukee City Hall is an iconic landmark with a beautiful interior atrium, well worth the visit.If you haven’t been to the Oriental Theatre, take the opportunity to check it out. A theater truly worthy of the movies!Northwestern Mutual Tower, top floor observation lounge. If for no other reason, spectacular views of the city. Great contemporary architecture, wonderful public spaces and a history of the company add value to the stop on your tour.Doors Open gives you the opportunity to see behind the granite facade of the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, which isn’t widely open to the public.The Zimmerman Architectural Studios and City Lights Brewing campus. It’s a slightly self-serving recommendation, but you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy a neck-bending view of an industrial cathedral like no other. While you’re there, visit 4 Seasons Skatepark and City Lights for a glimpse into more of the Milwaukee Gas Light Company operation.

Photos courtesy of: Visit Milwaukee; Randy Sherkenbach; U.S. General Services Administration

More to Explore

Third Ward Art Festival

The eighth-annual free festival kicks off September with 140 artists and counting – there’s a waiting list for artists, says Ruth Lawson, marketing and communications director of the Historic Third Ward Association. Broadway is blocked off and full of “great art, great artists.” Catalano Square, at the end of the Third Ward, will also be hosting its free “Ayre in the Square” outdoor concert on Aug. 31.

FREE; Aug. 31-Sept. 1 in the Third Ward

“A Mouth-Shaped Room”

The exhibit, which opened at the end of June, is the creation of Toronto-born artist David Harper, who has been featured in museums in Canada, New York, Indiana and California. “Prone,” a large, intricate piece featured in the exhibit, lists 16 components and materials – among them ceramic, latex, hand-woven linen and a taxidermy bird.

Through Sept. 15 at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Titus Andronicus

Tickets to see Titus Andronicus – the band, not the Shakespearean play – are $15 in advance on X-Ray Arcade’s website. The set will hopefully include songs from the indie rock outfit’s sixth album, An Obelisk, which debuted this June. “This is not a return to the band’s roots – this is an excavation of the dirt beneath those roots which will leave no fingernail unsoiled,” the website proclaims.

Sept. 7 at X-Ray Arcade

Pundamonium: The Milwaukee Pun Slam

Pundamonium, created and hosted by Art Allen, reached Milwaukee in early 2014. To participate, just show up: 10 contestants are selected in first-come, first-serve fashion. Participants are given a slip of paper with a different topic (for example, “Facebook” or “bicycles”). They can brainstorm puns to match their topics until the first round starts.

Sept. 13 at Shank Hall

Maker Faire

Maker Faire Milwaukee is one of the largest maker faires in the world, says Carrie Wettstein, one of the event’s producers. With a goal of 250 exhibitors this year – all hands-on and interactive – the faire showcases everything from textiles to robotics. It’s a “great learning opportunity for young makers,” Wettstein says.

FREE; Sept. 14-15 at Wisconsin Center

Danceworks’ Movement Media Lab

After a 16-week process that started in June, the dancers and filmmakers of the Movement Media Lab will be presenting their finished products tonight. This is the program’s second year, says project manager Kym McDaniel. Dancers and filmmakers submitted proposals at the beginning of the program for film projects that feature dance or movement as a main theme. And they’ll be participating in a Q&A session after the show.

Sept. 28 at Danceworks’ Studio Theatre

More Fall Arts Guide

“Fall Arts Guide” appears in the September 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 2, or buy a copy online.

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