In Arts & Entertainment

Artists painted what they saw during Art in the City: Plein Air MKE last year, including at North Point Lighthouse. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Museum Mile Facebook)

Art in the City: Plein Air MKE outdoor painting competition begins Thursday

Last year, the inaugural Art in the City: Plein Air MKE was a creative local triumph. The outdoor painting competition brought thousands of people to the Milwaukee Museum Mile, showcasing talented artists and exposing new audiences to the history, architecture, culture and art that define the East Side.

Due to the success of its 2016 event, the Milwaukee Museum Mile (MMM) has expanded the size, scope and schedule this year, increasing the number of days and extending the contest boundary. The second annual Art in the City: Plein Air MKE outdoor painting competition will take place Thursday, May 11-Sunday, May 21 at various locations on the East Side. More than 60 artists from all over the Midwest will paint along the Museum Mile for 11 days and contend for $6,000 in awards, with nationally renowned Wisconsin artists Bill Suys and Shelby Keefe serving as judges.

The colorful, weeklong gathering of artists, art lovers and collectors will culminate with the Art in the City Soirée on Thursday, May 18 from 5-8:30 p.m. at Saint John's On the Lake, where prizes will be awarded to winners and all paintings will be offered for sale. The Soirée is a MMM member/donor affair, but the general public is invited to attend and purchase pieces for a $10 admission fee.

Subsequently, there will be a public art sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 19-21, also at Saint John's. The two events are expected to draw hundreds, and the entire competition will serve a placemaking purpose to raise awareness of and benefit the Milwaukee Museum Mile.

The MMM is a joint effort of five arts and cultural institutions located on the East Side – the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Charles Allis Art Museum, Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John's On The Lake, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum and North Point Lighthouse – aiming to create a simple and more affordable way to access and enjoy multiple museums, while promoting the area as an historically and architecturally appealing destination to residents and visitors alike.

The museums are located within walking distance of each other, along a two-mile corridor on North Prospect, Wahl and Terrace Avenues.

The main event will commence on May 11 and continue until May 17, with artists painting along MMM from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, within the larger contest, this year there will be two timed Quick-Paint competitions this weekend. On May 13 along Brady Street and on May 14 at Prospect and North Avenues, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., artists will have 2.5 hours to paint, with those works also being judged and offered for sale.

Given the extended specified boundary – Prospect and Juneau Avenues north to Lake Park, Farwell Avenue south to Juneau Avenue and North Avenue from Oakland Avenue to Lake Park (view map) – a free, continuous shuttle bus will travel between locations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can park at museum locations where it is available or utilize street parking; walking and bicycling to the event are also encouraged.

Art In The City: Plein Air MKE competition schedule

May 11-17: Artists paint along Milwaukee Museum Mile, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 13: Brady St. Quick Paint, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 14: Prospect/North Ave. Quick Paint, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; MMM Day, 11 a.m. – 4 .pm.
May 15: Coffee with the Artists @ North Point Lighthouse, 7-10 a.m.
May 18: Art in the City Soirée, 6-8:30 p.m.
May 19-21: Public art sales at Saint John's on the Lake; Fri. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Art in the City Soirée schedule, May 18

4:30-6 p.m. – First-look members-only art sale, hors d'oeuvres, champagne, cash bar, live music by the Chris Hanson Band
6-6:30 p.m. – Buy-now public art sale, hors d'oeuvres, champagne, cash bar, live music
6:30-7 p.m. – Artist awards ceremony
7-8:30 p.m. – Buy-now public art sale, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, live music (proceeds benefit the MMM museums)

Museum Mile Day, May 14

This year, the annual Milwaukee Museum Mile Day will be held during Art in the City: Plein Art MKE, on Sunday, May 14, coinciding nicely with Mother's Day. Member museums will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offer free or reduced admissions. Each location will offer activities for children and the young at heart, free guided tours by docents and light refreshments. The shuttle bus will be available for travel between locations.

This will be the seventh Museum Mile Day since the MMM formed in 2010. It annually attracts hundreds, offering museumgoers, first-time visitors and their families and friends an opportunity to discover five of Milwaukee's unique museum gems. Home base for Sunday's Quick-Paint contest will be Colectivo on Prospect Avenue, where Museum Mile goers are welcome to drop by the coffee shop, meet the artists and watch as they paint the East Side.

Here are the Milwaukee Museum Mile Day admission discounts:

  • Jewish Museum Milwaukee, 1360 N. Prospect Ave. (414-390-5730) – Free Admission
  • Charles Allis Art Museum, 1801 N. Prospect Ave. (414-278-8295) – Free Admission
  • Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John's On The Lake, 1800 N. Prospect Ave. (414-831-6875) – Free Admission
  • Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. (414-271-3656) – Free Admission
  • North Point Lighthouse, 2650 N. Wahl Ave. (414-332-6754) – Reduced Admission (ages 12 and up, $5; under 12 and seniors, free)

For more information about the Milwaukee Museum Mile, Milwaukee Museum Mile Day and Art in the City: Plein Air MKE 2017, including to volunteer or buy tickets for the Soirée/art sale, visit


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