What to See at MOWA’s Wisconsin Artists Biennial

The exhibit features work from more than 50 Wisconsin artists.

The Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is kicking off the new year with the 2022 Wisconsin Artists Biennial. The exhibition co-sponsored by Wisconsin Visual Artists, opened on Feb.12 and is on view through April 24. 

This year’s exhibition features 52 artists from throughout Wisconsin, including many from Metro Milwaukee. These artists were selected from more than 400 Wisconsin artists who submitted 1,200 entries to the juried exhibition. Each artist created work representing diverse perspectives.  

According to MOWA Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Graeme Reid, this year’s Biennial includes a few video pieces, two 12-foot-tall paintings, drawings, sculptures, fiber works and a little bit of everything else. 

Barry Carlsen, Time Traveler, lithograph; Photo courtesy of MOWA

“A lot of the work in this year’s show was made during the pandemic,” said Reid. “It’s interesting to see several works that are pandemic related. There are some people that are responding to the current situation, and there are some people who are not.” 

When selecting this year’s 52 artists, three jurors from out of the state reviewed the 1,200 submissions to prevent bias during the selection process. 



What’s Brew City’s best? We’ve picked 16 of our favorite Milwaukee craft beers for a March Madness-style tournament, but it’s up to you to pick the winner! Will it be bright and hoppy? Dark and malty? A zippy lager? Every one is worthy of the title; who will claim the sudsy crown?

The Wisconsin Artists Biennial is a competitive exhibition available to all artists living in Wisconsin over the age of 18. The purpose of this competition is to showcase the creative self-expression of emerging and established artists in Wisconsin.  

“It gives any artist in the state a fair and equal chance to have their work in a highly selective, professional judged art exhibition, with unmatched prizes on offer,” said Reid.  

The first-place winner of this year’s biennial will receive $5,000 as well as a solo exhibition at the MOWA in 2024. In total, the event offers $10,000 in cash awards to selected artists.

Larry Zamba, Whitey on the Moon, 2021, color photograph; Photo courtesy of MOWA

According to Reid, there is no other art competition in the state that comes close to the financial reward incentive MOWA is providing.  

The 2022 Biennial jurors include Dan Gunn, an artist, writer and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, Phyllis McGibbion from Isolde Press and John Salminen, a watercolor artist and art educator.  

The 2020 winner of the Biennial was Nina Ghanbarzadeh, a visual artist who earned a BFA in painting, drawing and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013. Her solo exhibition Bridges will be featured at the MOWA during this year’s Biennial. Previous winners include Mark Klassen, S.V. Medaris, Warrington Colescott and Tom Uttech.  

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4p.m. Admission prices are $15 which will provide you with membership and unlimited visits for one full year. More information about the Biennial can be found here.