Public Art Selection

As part of the $456 million Wisconsin Center expansion, third-party art consultant Public Art Services has issued an RFQ for artists and assembled a highly diverse voting panel to identify the art which will go into the north and south buildings of the Wisconsin Center in 2024.

In January, the project owner’s representative CAA ICON released a request for proposal (RFP) in search of a qualified art consultant for the project. Public Art Services, a Colorado-based firm, was awarded the bid in April.  Public Art Services began the panel selection process shortly after. The organization worked with its local liaison from Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) and WCD representatives to write a robust RFQ statement, focused on representing the city of Milwaukee and its diverse and rich history.

“Having a multi-faceted panel select art pieces for the $456 million Wisconsin Center expansion is a pivotal and necessary part of the project. We must accurately represent the city of Milwaukee through works of art selected. Showcasing art pieces that resonate will give Milwaukee residents a chance to connect with their convention center, and it will show visitors from all over the world what our city is all about,” said Wisconsin Center District president and CEO Marty Brooks.

Creative design and project manager John Grant, along with the District, led the charge for assembling the voting committee who will judge the submitted works and ultimately identify the pieces which will move into the newly expanded Wisconsin Center.

“While searching for qualified candidates to join the panel, we looked to identify people from diverse backgrounds and from the visual arts and poetry community that have really made a difference in shaping the way Milwaukee talks about itself.” said Grant. “Having a highly engaged and unique group of panelists will help make the art that will go into the north and south buildings of the Wisconsin Center cohesive, distinctive and indicative of the city’s culture.”

The selection panel consists of seven voting members and three non-voting members. Voting members include author and Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton; Meg Strobel of Sculpture Milwaukee; Gabriel Yeager of Milwaukee Downtown Bid #21; EUA senior interior designer Jackie Posselt; Frank Juarez of Art Dose Magazine; Grady Crosby of Northwestern Mutual, and Sarah Maio, vice president of marketing and communications for the WCD.

Non-voting members include graphic design manager Jana Michaelis and WCD vice president and general manager Brian Rutkowski.

Some art pieces are already in the works and are outside of the public art scope of work, including a ballroom-level sculpture, ‘Rays Over Wisconsin.’ The sculpture is meant to capture the varying colors and moods reflected in the sky. Milwaukee-based art studio Design Fugitives is constructing the piece.

Milwaukee-based sculptor Marc Sijan has been engaged to create a female companion piece to Sil, the iconic security guard positioned inside the convention center’s main entrance on the corner of Vel R Phillips Ave. and Wisconsin Ave.

Madison-based artist Tommy Sweeney, along with his wife and business partner are also creating a 4-story monumental stair graphic. The graphic will reside at the north expansion grand staircase.

The WCD and Public Art Services released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in August, and the panel is inviting artists or artist teams to apply now. The deadline to apply is September 16.

Public Art Commitee Members

Grady Crosby

 As vice president of enterprise ESG at Northwestern Mutual, Grady Crosby is responsible for developing strategies and driving the overall execution of the company’s sustainability initiatives. Grady is passionate about ESG and seeks to mix industry best practices with creative solutioning to continually shape NM’s sustainability and governance methodologies. Prior to working at Northwestern Mutual, Grady worked with Johnson Controls for over 10 years. After serving as the vice president and general counsel of the Johnson Controls Power Solutions business, Grady later led the Public Affairs group as vice president public affairs and chief diversity officer, and president of Johnson Controls Foundation.   Grady is committed to community involvement and serves on the boards of: Froedtert Hospital; Marcus Performing Arts Center; Wisconsin Public Policy Forum, and the Wisconsin Center District. Grady and his wife Monique enjoy travel, shopping, and unique dining experiences. They have one son (Trey) and three grandchildren all living in Charlotte, NC.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist, curator, and facilitator. Ultimately, she’s a creative change agent, leveraging the creative process toward human and social wellness. Her nonprofit, Still Waters Collective, initiated literary arts programming for 20 years, creating platforms for thousands of voices to be honored and heard. Dasha has written for national, regional and local magazines; produced three collections of poetry; recorded four spoken word CDs; published two novels and one collection of personal vignettes; has work included in several anthologies; and performed in the last season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Her stage production, Makin’ Cake, is touring nationally. Dasha is former Artist of the Year for the City of Milwaukee and the city’s 11th Poet Laureate. She has been named a 2020 national Rubinger Fellow and 2021-22 Poet Laureate for the State of Wisconsin. In 2021 she earned a National Laureate Fellowship award with the Academy of American Poets. This year she will serve as the endowed Social Justice Chair for Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Frank Juarez

Frank Juárez is an award-winning art educator, former gallery director, artist, author, and community arts leader. Juárez brings two decades of art education and arts management experience organizing local and regional art exhibitions, community art events, facilitating presentations, supporting artists through grant programs, and leading professional development workshops. This has placed him in the forefront of promoting Wisconsin artists, networking, and attracting regional and national artists to collaborate and exhibit in Wisconsin. Juárez is the art department chair at Sheboygan North High School, publisher of Artdose Magazine, and contributing editor of SchoolArts Magazine. Juárez is actively involved in the Wisconsin Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association.

Jackie Posselt

Jackie Posselt serves as a senior interior designer with Eppstein Uhen Architects. Posselt says she loves her job because she learns something new everyday. In her role, she engages with clients from the initial interview to programming, planning, material and furniture selections, all with a heavy focus on sustainability. As a bonus, Posselt says she works with great clients and often forms lasting relationships. For the last 19 years, Posselt has also organized an art event called Feed Your Soul. The event has raised over $1 million for Feeding America. In her free time, Posselt love to travel, walk her French Bulldog and enjoy a great glass of Cabernet.

Sarah Maio

Sarah Maio serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Wisconsin Center District (WCD), where she oversees marketing and communications efforts for the WCD as well as the venues it owns and operates: Wisconsin Center, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and Miller High Life Theatre. Maio has developed the marketing and communications department into a team that supports digital strategy and social media, event promotion, stakeholder relations, and internal and executive communications for all departments within the WCD. Her impact on the WCD has reverberated through the community, most recently with her recognition as a Milwaukee Business Journal CMO of the Year and BizTimes Notable Marketing Executive. Maio is currently spearheading communications around the Wisconsin Center’s $456 million expansion project, which will double the size of the convention space. Maio and her team are focused on communicating the local economic impact of this project including minority-owned business inclusion, job creation and sustainability initiatives.

Meg Strobel

Meg Strobel is a photographer and arts advocate/educator in Milwaukee with a passion for public art. As the director of community engagement and marketing for Sculpture Milwaukee, she is an ardent believer in the power of art to enliven and enrich the urban landscape.  She is a volunteer with United Performing Arts Fund and an active member of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. When she’s not leading public art tours downtown, you can find her working in her studio. Meg’s artwork has been featured in numerous galleries and she continues to grow and expand her personal art practice.

Gabe Yeager

Since assuming a full-time position with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 in 2018, Gabriel Yeager has created and managed an ambitious public realm strategy, including new murals and public art, aesthetic lighting enhancements, public space programming, and district-wide wayfinding. He has helped secure significant funding and support from both the public and private sectors, totaling over $600,000 in downtown improvement projects. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he would administer the MKE it Back grant program for small businesses and the Jumpst(ART) Downtown arts and culture initiative. Yeager holds a Bachelor of Science of Architectural Studies (BSAS) and is pursuing a Master of Urban Planning from UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture + Urban Planning starting in fall 2021.