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Santiago Calatrava's piece on display at the Chase Tower, thanks to Sculpture Milwaukee.

13 photos from Sculpture Milwaukee's official ribbon-cutting ceremony

After weeks of installing art up and down Wisconsin Avenue, the inaugural Sculpture Milwaukee outdoor exhibit officially kicked off Wednesday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the windy shadow of the Chase Tower, 111 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The brainchild of Marcus Corporation Chairman of the Board Steve Marcus, Sculpture Milwaukee brings to town 22 works of art from 21 local and international artists – including one piece from acclaimed Milwaukee Art Museum designer Santiago Calatrava – all scattered along one of Downtown's main drags and on display to the public for free.

"A lot goes into what (the contributing artists) do – a lot of soul-searching and pain and talent goes into what they do – and we're thankful that they have chosen to allow their artwork, their special pieces of art, to be shown on the streets of Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee," Marcus told the crowd.

Marcus, who happened to be celebrating his birthday Wednesday, was joined by Sculpture Milwaukee curator Russell Bowman, Mayor Tom Barrett and a few of the artists behind the selected works at the occasion. It was a celebration not only of the art newly arranged down Wisconsin Avenue, but also of the artists Milwaukee already calls its own, with performances from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Lex Allen and New Age Narcissism, Jenny Thiel and MPS' Lincoln Center of the Arts.

"When someone steps forward and demonstrates leadership – not just through their words but through their actions – that can literally change communities. And that is what has happened here in Milwaukee," Barrett said of Marcus, before officially proclaiming May 31, 2017, as "Sculpture Milwaukee Day."

"This is the largest exhibit of museum-quality monumental sculpture in the world. You won't find anything like this anyplace else but in Milwaukee," Marcus added.

Here's a look at some of today's opening festivities:

1. A Santiago Calatrava piece now greets those around Chase Tower

2. A juggler keeps his eye on his pins

3. A living statue confounds the crowd

4. Four dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio open up the ceremony

5. Marcus Corporation president and CEO Greg Marcus, designer Linda Marcus and others watch the ceremony decked out in Sculpture Milwaukee hats

6. The performers dance to Justin Timberlake and "La La Land," all while battling some gusty winds

7. Beth Weirick of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 hosts the ceremony

8. Joel Shapiro's "Untitled" stands in the background of today's celebration

9. Steve Marcus talks to those gathered for the opening of Sculpture Milwaukee

10. Mayor Tom Barrett addresses the crowd

11. The ribbon is officially cut – with the soundtrack provided by local singer Jenny Thiel

12. Milwaukee Public Schools' Lincoln Center of the Arts choir sings a musical medley

13. Lex Allen (left), decked out in Linda Marcus-designed threads, performs "This Is Our Year" with New Age Narcissism

Sculpture Milwaukee will be on display along Wisconsin Avenue until Oct. 22.

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