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Best of Milwaukee 2016 Winners: Arts & Entertainment

Jan. 18, 2017
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Art Gallery (Non-Museum)

 

FIRST PLACE:
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) Student Gallery
273 E. Erie St.
414-847-3200
miad.edu

Considering that the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is regularly recognized as one of the top design schools in the country—with 740 students racking up honors of their own—it is no surprise that the institution’s Student Gallery would win best non-museum gallery. At any given time, the inchoate exhibitions of tomorrow hang in MIAD’s East Gallery. Works from MIAD’s five majors: communication design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture and design, and new studio practice, all find a home in this bustling, creative testing ground. (Tyler Friedman)

RUNNERS-UP:
RedLine Milwaukee
Tory Folliard Gallery
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

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Art Museum

FIRST PLACE:
Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM)
700 N. Art Museum Drive
414-224-3200
mam.org

Housed in a building that is visual shorthand for the city itself, the Milwaukee Art Museum is a veritable treasure chest containing more than 30,000 works of art spanning thousands of years and representing cultures domestic and foreign, famous and obscure. In the hands of MAM’s curators, these collections tell novel narratives about various visual cultures (e.g. American regionalism and American folk art). The institution is also a keen host to traveling exhibitions that are selected not only for their art-historical value but equally for their public appeal (e.g. “50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” and “Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood”). (Tyler Friedman)

RUNNERS-UP:
Grohmann Museum
Haggerty Museum of Art
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

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Dance Company

FIRST PLACE:
Milwaukee Ballet
milwaukeeballet.org

Michael Pink’s ballets are international hits. This season, Orlando Ballet stages Dracula, Ballet Met of Columbus, Ohio, stages Peter Pan, and there’s a big tour of Peter Pan in France. Here, Pink will polish Mirror Mirror, about Snow White’s evil queen, for a June revival. With just four performances two years ago, it’s his growing child. A contemporary ballet by resident choreographer Timothy O’Donnell premieres in April beside La Sylphide, a neoclassical beauty. Genesis brings premieres by choreographers from Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. in February—all made for and inspired by the company’s expressive, capable and wonderfully individual dancers. (John Schneider)

RUNNERS-UP:
Catey Ott Dance Collective
Danceworks
Panadanza Dance Company

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Local Radio Personality

FIRST PLACE:
Bob Uecker

The soon-to-be-83-year-old Bob Uecker has scaled back his broadcast schedule in recent years, but for two generations of Wisconsin sports fans, his voice remains as much an auditory indicator of summertime as chirping birds or spraying sprinkler heads. More so than just a ballplayer, comedian, actor or product pitchman, Uecker has for decades been one of the best announcers in the game—able to distill a complicated sport into an engaging and entertaining broadcast. Next season will be his 47th year on the air for the Brewers. He remains as listenable as ever. (Matthew J. Prigge)

RUNNERS-UP:
Bob & Brian
Marcus Doucette
Dori Zori

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Local TV Personality

FIRST PLACE:
John McGivern (also winner in Stage Actor category)

Twenty-five years ago, this charismatic, hardworking performance artist returned to his hometown, rented Theatre X’s theater in what would become the Broadway Theatre Center and presented his original one-man comedy about growing up the third of six kids in an Irish Catholic family in Milwaukee. The show was a hit, and McGivern stayed to build a huge audience for his many shows. At times, he seems omnipresent, appearing in every major art center in the region. His valuable PBS series, “Around the Corner,” is now in its sixth season. He is inseparable from his characters and, indeed, they are local folk. (John Schneider)

RUNNERS-UP:
Mark Baden
Brian Gotter
Ted Perry

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Milwaukee Author

FIRST PLACE:
John Gurda

John Gurda is a hard man to beat—especially when Milwaukeeans stop to ask themselves about favorite local authors. After all, what other writer has done more to make our city’s history interesting and explicable to the widest possible audience? His book, The Making of Milwaukee, was transformed into a PBS special airing coast-to-coast and won an Emmy. His most recent book, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, is a lavishly illustrated tour of the city—many of those neighborhoods were first given names by Gurda back in the ’80s. It’s easy to be a gracious loser when Gurda gets the prize. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP:
David Luhrssen
Neil Panosian
Matthew J. Prigge

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Movie Theater

FIRST PLACE:
Oriental Theatre
2230 N. Farwell Ave.
414-276-5140

Along with the Avalon, the Oriental is one of two movie palaces from the ’20s still operating in Milwaukee. It has also been a mainstay for alternatives in moviegoing; in the ’70s and early ’80s, it often showed Hollywood classics alongside foreign films. It became one of the places to see American indie productions before the word “indie” was coined. The biggest concession during its long history was the decision to divide the Oriental into three cinemas—increasing the number of films that could be screened there without doing damage to the Orientalist fantasy of the theater’s architecture. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP:
Avalon Theater
Downer Theater
iPic Theater

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Museum (Non-Art)

FIRST PLACE:
Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM)
800 W. Wells St.
414-278-2728
mpm.edu

Located in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Public Museum has been a cultural touchstone for generations. Who doesn’t get a little thrill as they stroll the recently renovated Streets of Old Milwaukee or gaze upon a victorious T-Rex about to eat dinner? MPM has supplemented our education and creatively brought to life what dull history textbooks rarely can. Ever-changing IMAX shows and temporary traveling exhibits constantly bring new crowds and more opportunities to visit this Milwaukee treasure. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP:
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Discovery World
Harley-Davidson Museum

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Outdoor Festival

FIRST PLACE:
Summerfest

In a city that prides itself on its many festivals, none looms larger than Summerfest, the city’s flagship gathering. This year, more than 800,000 patrons turned out for the 11-day fest to see headliners like Blink-182, Weezer, Death Cab For Cutie and—in a booking that gave 2015’s Rolling Stones booking a run for its money—Paul McCartney. All eyes are once more on the festival for what could be its biggest year yet as it prepares for its 50th anniversary. (Evan Rytlewski)

RUNNERS-UP:
Bastille Days
Irish Fest
Wisconsin State Fair

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Radio Station

FIRST PLACE:
88Nine Radio Milwaukee

For years, Milwaukee musicians complained about the lack of radio support. Save for the iconic college station WMSE, the city’s airwaves hardly even acknowledged that Milwaukee even had a music scene. Radio Milwaukee took those concerns seriously, making Milwaukee music their calling card and seamlessly integrating new local music into their eclectic mix of rock, hip-hop, soul, indie and electronic music. When they embrace a local artist, they go all in: Plenty of local acts can credit their followings directly to the exposure the station has provided them. (Evan Rytlewski)

RUNNERS-UP:
89.7 WUWM
102.1 WLUM
103.7 KISSFM

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Stage Actor

FIRST PLACE:
John McGivern (also winner in Local TV Personality category)

Twenty-five years ago, this charismatic, hardworking performance artist returned to his hometown, rented Theatre X’s theater in what would become the Broadway Theatre Center and presented his original one-man comedy about growing up the third of six kids in an Irish Catholic family in Milwaukee. The show was a hit, and McGivern stayed to build a huge audience for his many shows. At times, he seems omnipresent, appearing in every major art center in the region. His valuable PBS series, “Around the Corner,” is now in its sixth season. He is inseparable from his characters and, indeed, they are local folk. (John Schneider)

RUNNERS-UP:
Doug Clemons
Nathan Danzer
James Pickering

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Stage Actress

FIRST PLACE:
Laura Gordon

Her many years as a high-powered, impeccable presence in both comedies and dramas at the Milwaukee Rep have endeared her to audiences and now she’s a sought-after director, as well. I’ve never worked with her, but I’m told by friends who have that she always comes to rehearsal fully prepared and is kind to her castmates, thoughtful of their needs. She told one concerned actor friend of mine that when a director says nothing to you in rehearsal, it means they trust you to figure out what to do on your own. She was clearly speaking from experience. (John Schneider)

RUNNERS-UP:
Amber Smith
Susan Spencer
Jenny Wanasek

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Theater Company

FIRST PLACE:
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
108 E. Wells St.
414-224-9490
milwaukeerep.com

The Rep’s first responsibility is to create excellent theater, and by most standards it does that. The company also names “inclusion” and “citizenship” among its core values. What’s remarkable is that these ideals are evident in the work. Racial and cultural diversity in casting and directing are largely taken for granted—a rare thing in our nation’s theaters. Citizenship means that the work, both onstage and in related programs, inspires useful thinking on local and national matters so as to help us make wise and responsible decisions. The current production of Disgraced and the upcoming Grounded are fine, knotty examples. (John Schneider)

RUNNERS-UP:
All In Productions
First Stage
Renaissance Theaterworks

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