By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 22, 2024 at 10:26 AM

As the $456 million Baird Center expansion project nears completion, the Wisconsin Center District has named 21 artists whose work was selected for display in the new center, set to open by spring.

The artists were selected by a voting panel put together by Public Art Services, a third-party art consultant based in Colorado, beginning in April 2022.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued in August 2022 in an effort to find, "international, national, regional and locally-based artists/artist teams to create artwork that speaks to Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s diverse culture and rich history."

What followed was a selection process that led to the awarding of contracts to 16 artists/artist teams. Four more artists were chosen in collaboration with project architect, Eppstein Uhen Architects.

“It was exciting and gratifying to work with such a diverse selection panel of local artists, poets and arts supporters. The result is a group of artists with deep representation by regional and Milwaukee-based artists,” Public Art Services Creative Design and Project Manager John Grant said in a statement Monday.

“It's really what these arts projects are all about and it's a way for Baird Center to support its community of creative artists.”

In addition, the Marc Sijan, the artist who created Syl the security guard sculpture at the venue's south entrance, has been tapped to create a female counterpart for the north expansion.

The selected artists/teams are:

  •    Ben Butler
  •     Bluword of Water
  •     Brandon Minga
  •     David Najib Kasir
  •     Ed Marquand, Tieton Mosaic
  •     FreelandBuck
  •     Greg Gossel
  •     Haddad|Drugan
  •     Jay Yan
  •     Jeffrey Swider-Peltz
  •     John Fleissner
  •     Kathryn Martin
  •     Kevin Miyazaki
  •     Marc Sijan
  •     Mark Brautigam
  •     Nicolas Lampert
  •     Nova Czarnecki
  •     Reginald Baylor Studio
  •     Rosy Petri
  •     Tommy Sweeney
  •     Tuan Tran, Design Fugitives

More details on the specific works are expected to follow in coming weeks.

“Public Art Services did a tremendous job overseeing the artist selection process and the panel identified talented artists whose pieces represent our city and state’s vibrant culture,” Wisconsin Center District President and CEO Marty Brooks said in Monday's statement.

“I believe this incredible collection will engage and bring joy to Baird Center guests from across the globe for years to come.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.