Many icons of American creativity have gotten their start right here in Greater Madison, including Georgia O’Keefe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Vinnie Ream. Madison's love affair with art and creativity thrives to this day, and especially comes alive in the season of the sun.
ART FAIR ON THE SQUARE
Every year for the past 60 summers, Madison’s Capitol Square has transformed into one of the largest art galleries in the Midwest with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MMoCA) Art Fair on the Square. Nearly 500 artists from around the country gather to share their paintings, sculptures and mixed media creations with tens of thousands of eager art aficionados. Visitors can discover emerging talents, local favorites and wildly imaginative minds while strolling in the shadow of Wisconsin’s magnificent state capital. This year’s Art Fair on the Square, which is MMoCA’s largest fundraiser, will be held July 13-14.
MMoCA GALLERY NIGHT
MMoCA also offers a Madison art teaser twice a year with Gallery Night, now in its 30th year. Gallery Night sees dozens of local establishments open their doors to help foster art life in our community. Anything from coffee shops, to real estate offices, to small galleries, to nursing homes, to MMoCA itself will feature excellent local art talent for an evening of fun, food, and friendship. This year’s summer gallery night will be on Friday, May 3.
While Madison itself is a hub of artistic creativity, many neighboring communities also provide an array of arts offerings:
SUN PRAIRIE TASTE OF THE ARTS
Sun Prairie, which is where Georgia O’Keefe was born, hosts the 37th annual Taste of the Arts on June 8, at Sheehan Park, 1351 Linnerud Dr. Browse more than 100 vendors offering a variety of crafts, fine art, jewelry, garden art, wood crafts, photography, oil, and watercolor paintings. They also offer a wine and cheese tasting, as well as food vendors, to enhance the day.
MOUNT HOREB ART FAIR
The 48th Annual Mount Horeb Art Fair is July 20 – 21 on Mount Horeb’s historic downtown Main Street. The art fair showcases fine artists and crafters from around the Midwest. Get a taste of Mount Horeb’s history and culture with a traditional Norwegian Kaffe Stue lunch featuring lefse, sotsuppe, smørbrod, rømmegrøt and Norsk pastries.
MIDWEST FIRE FEST
Cambridge offers a hot take on a traditional art fair with the Midwest Fire Fest on July 27 – 28. The festival is a demonstration-heavy celebration of all things created with fire, heat and smoke. Find amazing examples of clay work, metal arts, welding, forging and glass. And on Saturday night, join in the “fire feast” for an amazing atmosphere filled with food and music.
THE AGORA ART FAIR
The Agora Art Fair in Fitchburg takes place August 19 at the Agora on 5500 E. Cheryl Pkwy. Immerse yourself with art from over 100 local and regional artists from every medium including painting, ceramics, jewelry, photography, glass, metals, woodwork, mixed media, fiber and sculpture. Enjoy food, music and art amid the unique architecture of the agora and the natural prairie landscape of southern Wisconsin.
These and other neighborhood and community arts festivals are what make the Greater Madison area such an inspiring place to visit. And don’t worry: if you don’t make one of the art festivals, MMoCA is open all year long and has free admission, as does the Chazen Museum of Art.
Both are along Madison’s great pedestrian thoroughfare – State Street – for easy access during your visit.