Our Must-see List of Summer’s Best Performances & Art Exhibitions

Shakespeare, Handel, Calatrava: these are your cultural must-sees.


Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship Exhibit

June 8-Sept. 17 ➞ Haggerty Museum of Art

The Nohl Fund Fellows are always some of Milwaukee’s most exciting and innovative visual artists. This year, Jessie McLean, Joseph Mougel, Rose Curley, Robin Jebavy and Brooke Thiele are displaying work in a variety of media.

Sculpture Milwaukee

June 1-Oct. 22 ➞ Wisconsin Ave., from 6th Street to O’Donnell Park

The work of internationally known artists, including Sol LeWitt, Santiago Calatrava and Joel Shapiro, and local sculptors including Jason S. Yi and Michelle Grabner will be on display along Wisconsin Avenue Downtown. An annual event, it’s hoped.

Hail We Now Sing Joy

June 23-Sept. 17 ➞ Milwaukee Art Museum

As restless as it is provocative, the work of Rashid Johnson doesn’t fit into easy categories. In this expansive exhibit, organized by Kansas City’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the work crosses borders between installation, photography, video, painting and sculpture. Composed of tile, mirrors and oak flooring, pieces in the series “Falling Men” suggest superheroes in flight or crime-scene chalk outlines. “Antoine’s Organ,” Johnson’s most dramatic work to date, is a massive three-dimensional structure containing plants, sculptures and video monitors. Johnson has a lot to say about American identity and the black experience.

Classical Music

Photo by Getty Images
Summer Evenings of Music

Sundays, June 4-25 ➞ UWM Zelazo Center

The acclaimed Fine Arts Quartet will end its 55-year relationship as UW-Milwaukee’s resident quartet in 2018. This final series of four summer concert ranges from Schubert to Schoenberg and features an impressive roster of guest artists.


Much Ado About Nothing

July 6-22 ➞ Peck Pavilion

The folks of Optimist Theatre, Milwaukee’s only outdoor theater offering, have moved around in recent years: from Alverno College to Kadish Park, and now to the Marcus Center’s Peck Pavilion. To compete with Kilbourn Avenue traffic, expect plenty of verbal and emotional jousting in Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s great comedy. Kelley Faulkner and Todd Denning play merry warriors Beatrice and Benedict. James Pickering plays Constable Dogberry; the rest of the excellent cast includes Jonathan Wainwright, Michael Stebbins, David Flores, DiMonte Henning and Candace Thomas. 

Optimist Theatre


Handel’s Bestiary

June 16-17 ➞ Lynden Sculpture Garden

Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Danceworks return to the garden, combining forces in this Summer Solstice celebration of animals described int he operas of George Friedrich Handel.

Photo by Tom Davenport
Mirror, Mirror

June 1-4 ➞ Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

The Milwaukee Ballet’s Michael Pink is known for cleverly crafted and emotionally rich ballet treatments of age-old tales. The company now offers his version of Snow White, which premiered in 2014. ◆

‘Hot Tickets’ appears in the June 2017 (City Guide) issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning May 29, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.



Paul Kosidowski is a freelance writer and critic who contributes regularly to Milwaukee Magazine, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio and national arts magazines. He writes weekly reviews and previews for the Culture Club column. He was literary director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater from 1999-2006. In 2007, he was a fellow with the NEA Theater and Musical Theater Criticism Institute at the University of Southern California. His writing has also appeared in American Theatre magazine, Backstage, The Boston Globe, Theatre Topics, and Isthmus (Madison, Wis.). He has taught theater history, arts criticism and magazine writing at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.