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June 5, 2007

Wisconsin Triennial rides again

Jennifer A. Smith

Due to the construction of the Overture Center for the Arts, Madison's downtown performing and visual arts complex, the Wisconsin Triennial--a showcase of contemporary visual art organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art--was knocked off its every-three-years schedule. The first Triennial since 2002 is now on view.

My review of the show ran in a recent issue of Isthmus, Madison's alternative weekly. Brief interviews with two of the included artists and one of the curators ran alongside the review. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's visual art critic also covered the show.

Simply put, the Wisconsin Triennial is one of my favorite things on the local visual art calendar. I'd love it if it were an annual tradition, but the scope of the show makes that nearly impossible. (This year, the curatorial team whittled about 500 applicants down to about 50 exhibiting artists.) I'd also like to see it get wider coverage - I just did a quick Google News search on "Wisconsin Triennial" and only four results turn up. While the show might not be able to get national coverage (even if it deserves it), we are living in a regional arts economy, so to speak - Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago form a sort of triangle and it's not unusual for residents of one place to attend theater, visual art, etc. in another. While farther away for me, Minneapolis is not out of the question, either.

I can't help but think that with all the coverage in recent weeks about arts journalism cutbacks in places like Minneapolis and Atlanta that it will be even harder for worthy events and artists to attract attention beyond their immediate environs. There will be fewer people out there with their radar attuned to noteworthy, high-quality events. But unless the reading public responds to these cuts in arts journalism positions with an outcry (and I doubt they will), such cuts are unsurprising.

Posted by Jennifer A. Smith at June 5, 2007 6:52 AM