Milwaukee has earned the title “City of Festivals,” and for very good reason. If you are looking to celebrate music, art, film, cultural heritage, specific holidays or simply a love of craft beer, Milwaukee has a festival for you!
In the summer months, when Wisconsin weather is arguably most pleasant for those outdoor activities that do not require snowsuits, you might even find yourself at a different festival every weekend. The Milwaukee Art Museum itself contributes to the city’s lively “festival culture” by hosting the Lakefront Festival of Art every June.
To coincide with the height of our local festival season, I’ve selected some works from the Museum’s collection for their visual resemblance to some of Milwaukee’s most popular upcoming summer festivals. Have fun!
1. Summerfest: June 29–July 3, July 5-10
Warrington Colescott’s colorful print Suite Louisiana: The Music of the Folks (above) perfectly embodies the Summerfest atmosphere with the live music and the scattered vendor tables. People of all ages are clearly enjoying themselves as they socialize, dance or grab a drink with friends in this animated, but casual, scene. You just might find yourself in a strikingly similar setting while strolling the Summerfest grounds.
2. Bastille Days: July 14–17
France’s Bastille Day was created to remember the 1789 storming of the Bastille, once a medieval fortress in Paris; this act is thought to have officially begun the French Revolution. Milwaukee’s Bastille Days honors this French holiday by offering fest-goers French-themed cuisine, music, décor and various demonstrations. Jules Cheret’s lithograph speaks to the festival’s fun (and of course French) activities with its smiling central character and advertisement for a Parisian garden party, while also radiating French pride and history in its red, white and blue color palette.
3. Festa Italiana: July 22–24
As you float along Lake Michigan in a gondola, grab a bite of pizza and peruse a wide variety of treasures in the piazza at Milwaukee’s Festa Italiana, you might feel as if you stepped right into Thomas Moran’s serene painting of Venice. Both the festival and the art attempt to capture the romance and authentic feeling of Italy.
4. German Fest: July 29–31
Selecting a stein made by Villeroy & Boch, a German ceramic company, to represent German Fest certainly requires no lengthy explanation. It is almost impossible to attend this festival without indulging in a large mug of beer. Yet, in its Medieval-esque decoration, this piece also exemplifies the charm and deep cultural aspects of German Fest.
5. Wisconsin State Fair: August 4–14
The Wisconsin State Fair prides itself in its wide array of unique food options; it is perhaps the only place where you can purchase any flavor cookie dough, deep-fried and on-a-stick. Just as Wayne Thiebaud has chosen to focus all of his artistic attention on these rows of pie slices, perhaps struggling to choose a flavor himself, fair attendees may have trouble on deciding what tasty treat to try first.
6. Irish Fest: August 18–21
Although this painting was done by a Russian artist, the young woman’s bright red tresses would make her a strong contender in Irish Fest’s “Red Hair” Contest. Not only for those with strong Irish genes, however, this late-summer festival offers traditional foods, parades, a Leprechaun Contest and Jameson Lounge. Visitors receive a genuine taste of Ireland in a local setting.
7. Milwaukee Film Festival: September 22–October 6
On October 3, the Milwaukee Film Festival will present an encore screening of the 1920s silent film, Metropolis, at the Oriental Theatre. In perfect accompaniment, the Milwaukee Art Museum opens the exhibition Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s on October 21, which will house drawings, posters and set models from this classic film. Together, the film screening and exhibition will work to celebrate cinema and highlight historical advances in the movie-making industry.
–Erin Green, Marketing Intern