Five of Milwaukee’s smaller museums reside on the historic east side of the city along Lake Michigan, and museum officials wonder if sometimes residents forget about these gems. Each year, they hold an event celebrating this “Museum Mile” to remind folks, and this year, they added a plein air painting component.
 
Dubbed the Art in the City Plein Air MKE event, the competition quickly captured the fancy of painters in Wisconsin and beyond.
 


“Lake Park Falls,” by Kathie Wheeler. Second Place

 
Kevin Walzak, a member of the board of directors for North Point Lighthouse and Museum, says the plein air competition was more than a year in the making. “We wanted to do something like this last year, but we didn’t have enough time to plan it,” says Walzak. “So we put it together for this year, to tie in with the fifth anniversary of the Milwaukee Museum Mile.”
 


“Spring Blush,” by Derek Davis. Third Place

 
Early impressions of the inaugural plein air component were good, with artist Wendie Thompson calling the MKE event “fabulous — well organized and high class … and fun.” Walzak says he’s feeling good about it, too. “The feedback was positive, and we were pleased with how it went. Our plan is to return it next year.”
 


“Spring Shadows on Teal Windows,” by D.K. Palecek. Juror’s Choice


“The ‘Coin,’” by Michael Olive. Brady Street Quick Paint winner

 
Painters were asked to stay within fairly strict boundaries in the museum area when painting, and four of the five institutions offered awards for pieces depicting the landmarks. The Milwaukee Museum Mile consortium includes the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, the Museum of Milwaukee Art at Saint John’s on the Lake, the North Point Lighthouse and Museum, and the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.
 


Collectors peruse the show of paintings done at the event.

 
Nyle Gordon was the top winner with his “Museum Dwellers” winning Best of Show. Kathie Wheeler took Second Place with “Lake Park Falls.” Third Place went to Derek Davis for “Spring Blush.”
 


Artist Wendie Thompson with North Point Lighthouse board member Kevin Walzak

 
The Juror’s Choice was D.K. Palecek’s “Spring Shadows on Teal Windows,” and Michael Olive won the Brady Street Quick Paint event. Brian Sindler won Second Place and Les Leffingwell won Third.
 


“The Greeter,” by Wendie Thompson. Charles Allis Art Museum Honorable Mention

 
Wendie Thompson won the Charles Allis Art Museum Honorable Mention with “The Greeter.” Ariana Huggett won the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum Honorable Mention with “Villa Terrace Courtyard.” The North Point Lighthouse and Museum Honorable Mention went to Chuck Weber for his “Early Morn at North Point Lighthouse,” and Sherri Thomas won the Jewish Museum Milwaukee Honorable Mention award for “Remembrance.”
 


“Villa Terrace Courtyard,” by Ariana Huggett. Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum Honorable Mention

 
Walzak reports that the MKE event drew artists from surrounding states, with more than 60 artists participating. About 180 paintings were turned in, and the soiree celebrating the event drew several hundred people.
 


“Early Morn at North Point Lightouse,” by Chuck Weber. North Point Lighthouse and Museum Honorable Mention

 
The weather was chilly, but not by the standards of Milwaukee in early May. Artists painted in temperatures in the 40s and 50s, with only one day marred by precipitation. The consortium scheduled the plein air event in early May due to Milwaukee’s crowded summer schedule. “Events are stacked in summer because summer is so precious here,” explains Walzak.
 


“Remembrance,” by Sherri Thomas. Jewish Museum Milwaukee Honorable Mention

 
In the end, the inaugural edition of Art in the City Plein Air MKE created a buzz among artists, drew attention to the Milwaukee Museum Mile institutions, and fostered visual art in the community. Just as planned.
 

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