Here Are The 7 Places To Enjoy Black Art In Wisconsin


Sky21– Every February, Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate Black cultural leaders. Across Wisconsin, from big areas like Milwaukee and Madison to picturesque and charming little villages, Black artists are making their imprint through murals and museum collections.

Here are seven sites to see and appreciate Black art, including a new mural in downtown Madison and permanent collections at the Art Preserve, Museum of Wisconsin Art, and Milwaukee Art Museum.

1. Art Preserve, Sheboygan

Dr. Charles Smith’s 218 sculptures, the biggest collection of his work, may be seen on the third (top) floor of this three-year-old museum, located on a nature preserve and an outgrowth of downtown Sheboygan’s John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Smith’s work, like those of the other artists exhibiting here, is classified as Outsider art. He depicts the Black community from slavery to the present, including fallen troops from the Vietnam War and lesser-known figures (such Howard McGee, the first Black postmaster general).

2. Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee

The museum’s permanent collection, which includes works by well-known artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Warhol, contains around 100 pieces by Haitian artists (mainly paintings and sculptures). Richard and Erna Flagg, who began collecting Haitian art in 1973, acquired one of the country’s most-known collections of Haitian art, as well as one of the oldest and largest outside of Haiti.

The artists represented are Hector Hyppolite, Castera Bazile, Wilson Bigaud, Préfète Duffaut, Philomé Obin, Rigaud Benoit, and Georges Liautaud. This collection has its own bright, vivid, and vibrant gallery area on the museum’s Level 1 mezzanine.

3. Madison Area Technical College in Madison

The Black Women’s Affinity Group’s third annual show, “Restoring the Black Woman” (through Feb. 29), is on display at Gallery at Truax, this college’s art gallery. It brings together Black artists from many genres to depict the experiences of Black women via numerous viewpoints. The exhibit launched on February 1, coinciding with Black History Month.

Among the artists represented are Milwaukee acrylic artist Bolanie Awosika, UW-Milwaukee assistant professor of early childhood education Dr. Crystasany R. Turner, Madison artist and educator Althea René Miller-Sims, and DarRen Morris, an incarcerated man serving a life sentence in Wisconsin whose work is widely exhibited across the state.

4. Saint Kate, The Arts Hotel, Milwaukee

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, an interdisciplinary artist who was just named the second Artist in Residence for this arts-themed boutique hotel in downtown Milwaukee, organizes craft and art workshops on-site and invites guests to view his works in progress in his hotel studio.

This involves collage-making, performance possibilities, and zines. Floyd-Pruitt also has extensive experience as a puppeteer and has led puppet-making courses.

5. Kiba Freeman’s “Carbon Cycle” Mural in Madison

Murals appeared along State Street in May 2020, following George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police and subsequent protests against police brutality in towns such as Wisconsin Madison. Many have disappeared, as is the nature of murals, but Kiba Freeman’s latest one premiered downtown last summer.

The mural, as the title implies, is an artistic depiction of the carbon cycle in life and nature that combines art and science. The city of Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborated to create it. It is located at State Street Apartments, 318 West Gorham Street.

6. Mahogany Gallery, Racine

Scott Terry, a Black practicing visual artist, opened this fine art gallery in Racine’s Uptown district in 2019. It is part of the Mahogany Black Arts & Cultural Center. The emphasis is on showcasing art created by emerging and established artists of color from Wisconsin and around the United States.

Terry is also the founder of the Wisconsin Black Art & Culture Expo, a two-month event that begins in February and takes place in Racine and Kenosha, with artist presentations, curated art displays, and sculpture workshops.

7. Museum of Wisconsin Art (West Bend)

The goal of this museum is to exhibit the work of Wisconsin-based artists, both alive and deceased, including Reginald Baylor of Milwaukee, whose artistic career began as a sculptor. The collection includes his Pop Art-inspired acrylic-on-canvas artwork (“The Directions To and From”), which he painted in 2013 and donated to the museum the following year.

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