Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Milwaukee is hosting a special sculpture exhibit during the period June 1 to October 22.  It consists of 22 sculptures positioned along both sides of Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee's "main street."  Although the exhibit does not officially open until later this week, most of the sculptures have been put in place and, Saturday being a beautiful day, I spent some time photographing those sculptures then in place.  I didn't count the number of sculptures I saw, but I assume there are a few that had not yet been installed.  And there were a few others that were still being worked on, touched up, or positioned.

My initial impressions of the exhibit were that it is a major disappointment.  Most of the pieces were entirely abstract.   Some I didn't bother photographing or retaining the shots that I did take.  Personally, I have a strong preference for sculpture that is representational, even when that representation involves abstract (that is, nonrealistic) components, and some of the pieces fit that description.  I found those more interesting.

I enjoy photographing sculpture compared to plain "wall art" because there are more choices with respect to the use of light, shot angles, depth of field, and incorporation of background elements.  Here I was hopeful of incorporating some of Milwaukee's diverse architecture as background for some of the pieces.  But I was so disappointed with some of the sculptures that I despaired of getting any really interesting shots.  Here are some of what I took (and kept).

This piece I think epitomizes the weakness with this exhibit.

This large, totally nondescript piece is posed against the federal courthouse building, which has great architectural interest.  As a contrasting shot, here is the federal courthouse posed against a more modern office building.

This comparison worked much better, no thanks to the sculpture.  Moving on.

Here is another sculpture placed next to the modern building in the above shot.

This piece consisted of several large, different colored spheres stacked on top of one another, each with a stylized "happy face" that is frowning on the bottom sphere and smiling on the top.

One piece that was more interesting was of a horse made out of dead branches (I think).  I first tried to photograph the front part of the sculpture with that same office building as a background.

OK, but it doesn't quite work.  Better was to shoot the sculpture from across the street with an older red brick building as a backdrop.

For me the only interest in the double arrow piece below was that each of the sculpture's surfaces was painted a different color.

I tried shooting the piece as an abstract, but it was perhaps too abstract.

Next was a tall, very narrow spiral chrome clad piece.  It was nearly impossible to capture in its entirety.

But I found the reflections in the chrome surfaces to have some interest as an abstract.

Then there was a "sculpture" that seemed to consist of a couple of dozen yellow and blue metal posts.

This shot doesn't really capture the piece, but I guess I was trying for an abstract, since I thought the sculpture of itself had little aesthetic value.

Here is another sculpture on the avenue that I believe is not part of the exhibit but that I thought was more interesting than those that were.  (My personal bias.)

The "pregnancy" is a bit odd, but I liked the presentation of the face that I turned into a chiaroscuro.

Back to the exhibit.  I thought the following representation of roses was OK, but certainly not spectacular.

I liked the following sculpture of a woman a bit better.

As I did the following of, I believe, an immigrant/refugee (?) family.  OK, although it is a bit cartoonish.

A totally abstract sculpture that I actually liked was one made of stainless steel pieces put together in a circular shape.  The piece was still being worked on, and I was not able to photograph it in its entirety, so I just shot portions of it, the first against the clear sky.

The second against a dark building that I was able to blacken in post processing.

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to shoot some of the varied downtown architecture.


I had a good time trying to puzzle out this exhibit from a photographic perspective, despite my disappointment with the actual sculptures.  I definitely plan to do another shoot after the exhibit is fully installed and see if my second impression is better than my first.


1 comment:

  1. Loved the pictures of sculptures. Favorite was the horse