Best of Milwaukee 2013: A&E
Best movie theater, art museum and more
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts
839 S. Fifth St.
Located in the heart of its neighborhood on the South Side, the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts is truly about furthering local culture. For more than 25 years, WPCA has focused on promoting local artists’ work, helping to educate young people and embracing multicultural visual and performing art. Housed in a beautiful 1885 building made out of Milwaukee’s own cream city brick, the WPCA includes two gallery spaces that host seven exhibitions a year. Some repeated events include the long-running and colorful Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration, juried photo exhibitions and presentations of select works from the center’s youth art camps and classes that serve more than 10,000 kids each year. (Erin Heffernan)
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee is home to several fine art museums, yet MAM remains the most familiar for the scope of its international exhibitions, the size of its permanent collection, its prominent location on the lakefront and its landmark modern architecture by Eero Saarinen (the original War Memorial Center) and the post-everything addition by Santiago Calatrava. Currently, the main gallery is devoted to an exhibit on Thomas Sully, one of America’s eminent portrait painters of the 19th century. (David Luhrssen)
Charles Allis Art Museum/Villa Terrace Decorative Arts
Haggerty Museum of Art
504 W. National Ave.
It kills me when national critics lament the death of ballet and suggest that only two or three choreographers make worthwhile work. Those slackers need to catch a flight here. Each Milwaukee Ballet season is filled with exciting new works by national and resident choreographers attesting to the freshness, energy and unlimited possibilities of the art. The current season closes with the world premiere of Mirror Mirror by Choreographer/Artistic Director Michael Pink and composer Philip Feeney, master builders of contemporary story ballets. Finally, it’s the dancers, individually and collectively, who make this company's work so incredibly addictive. (John Schneider)
Wild Space Dance Company
Since graduating from UW-Milwaukee’s esteemed film department, David Busse has engaged in numerous high-profile projects. This year’s accomplishments include directing and editing two country music videos playing on ZUUS Country Network (for Saddlebrook and this year’s Best Female Vocalist and Acoustic Musician Nora Collins), founding the production company Roving Pixels and creating documentaries featuring Aaron Rodgers, James Jones and Brandon Jennings. He also contributed to Rodger’s goodwill project with David Gruber, itsaaron.com, which was nominated for a Chicago Emmy. (Selena Milewski)
Local Radio Personalities
Dave & Carole (WKLH 96.5)
Dave Luczak and Carole Caine of the Dave & Carole morning show have been a top-notch team for almost 30 years, dominating this classic rock station’s airwaves with snarky humor, wonderful guests and incredible interviews. The duo broadcasts live at various exotic locations to keep the program fresh and enjoys hosting charity events and drives throughout the city. Dave and Carole’s show is steadily ranked in the city’s top two wake-up shows, owing to the duo’s great on-air chemistry and dedication to delivering consistent, top-quality programming that appeals to 25-year-olds, 54-year-olds and everyone in between. (Amanda Sullivan)
Bob & Brian
Adler (WLUM 102.1)
Hometown favorite David Seebach has thrilled audiences of all ages with his magic shows since the 1960s. His talent and love for magic, admirably, made his life the subject of a musical in 1979, which ran for 60 sold-out performances at the Pabst Theater. Seebach has taken his shows all over the area, performing for public and private functions. He has become a permanent fixture at Summerfest and has helped unveil new product lines for major corporations. (Brandon Miller)
Sir Pinkerton Xyloma
Milwaukee has a unique heritage and John Gurda has worked for years to remind us that our city is a special place. Gurda has been examining the city’s past from many angles since the 1970s, but he achieved local historian superstar status when his book The Making of Milwaukee was adapted by MPTV into an Emmy-winning documentary series. A public rather than ivory-tower intellectual, Gurda has prefaced site-specific, historically informed performances by Wild Space Dance Company with his insights. (D.L.)
Oriental Landmark Theatre
2230 N. Farwell Ave.
Everyone knows the Oriental Theatre, even people who seldom go out for movies. The Oriental was a landmark long before it became part of the Landmark cinema chain. It’s not the city’s oldest movie house (the Downer wins that distinction) but—at least until the Avalon is up and running—it remains the only functioning movie palace from the golden age when architecture competed with Hollywood for flights of fancy. Although it makes room for blockbusters, the Oriental devotes much of its screen time to films that will never appear in the local multiplexes. (D.L.)
Marcus Majestic Cinema
Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W. Wells St.
The Public Museum is the closest thing Milwaukee has to a time machine. Curious about life in the late-19th century? Promenade down a recreation of “The Streets of Old Milwaukee.” Wonder how you’d fare in the face of a prehistoric beast? Feel dwarfed before the skeletons of a triceratops, wooly mammoth and saber-toothed tiger. No matter your age, the Public Museum will kindle a sense of childlike wonder about the world in all its natural and cultural glory. (Tyler Friedman)
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Summer in Milwaukee wouldn’t be the same without Summerfest. The 11-day music festival is a standout for size alone; last summer the event tallied more than 800 bands, 840,000 attendees and 1,000 performances. But beyond the sheer size of “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” Summerfest also attracts some of the best music acts Milwaukee sees all year. The lineup is always diverse and thick with talent for an appeal that spans the city and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a big-name hip-hop act, an up-and-coming indie rock group, local Milwaukee music or just some solid cheese curds and lemonade, this quintessential Milwaukee music marathon will have something for you. (E.H)
88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Ask any local band and they’ll tell you that regular play on Milwaukee’s 88Nine Radio Milwaukee can be invaluable in helping artists build a following around the area. Since its launch in 2007, the noncommercial station has made spotlighting local artists—along with the greater local arts community—a top priority, building one of the most loyal listenerships in the city. This year the station has plenty to celebrate: It recently relocated from its modest studio in the Milwaukee Public Schools administration building to a top-of-the-line two-story building in Walker’s Point, complete with a 100-seat performance studio and a built-in Stone Creek Coffee location. (Evan Rytlewski)
Since 1993 Lee Ernst has cast a spell over theater fans in Milwaukee. His audience can easily forget he is only an actor doing what he does best, and it’s not really Frank Lloyd Wright, Vince Lombardi or Willy Loman in front of them. Whether it’s a comedic role in The Foreigner, or a diabolical one in Richard III, Ernst is a joy to watch. Hopefully the Milwaukee Rep’s shift to the Associate Artists program doesn’t mean we’ll see less of this talented, popular actor. (Susan Harpt Grimes)
Laura Gordon has been winning the hearts of theatergoers in Milwaukee for 20 years. Both from the acting side of the stage, and more recently from the director’s chair, Gordon knows how to captivate the imagination of her audience. Whether she’s playing a witty Ann Lander’s in the one-woman play, The Lady With All the Answers, or the strict Sister Aloysius in Doubt, Gordon creates a memorable performance every time. (S.H.G.)
108 E. Wells St.
The Rep is in one of its finest periods. The moving production of Ragtime this fall should demolish all doubt about the goals of Artistic Director Mark Clements. The Rep was born from the mid-20th-century effort to decentralize theatre so people without the means to travel to New York could experience art of the highest quality. That required funding. The new nonprofit organizations were therefore asked to concern themselves profoundly with the needs and dreams of their local audiences. The currency and diversity of the luminous productions presented under Clements’ leadership fully affirm the ideals of the company’s founding. (J.S.)
Next Act Theatre