Sculpture Milwaukee Now Has a Beer to Call Its Own

The 16-ounce can was designed by artist Nat Pyper.

Sculpture Milwaukee's Monumental IPA brewed by Company Brewing in partnership with the Beer Endowment. Photo: Sculpture Milwaukee.

Sculpture Milwaukee is leaning into the city’s reputation as the home of American brewing by releasing a companion beer for the eighth edition of the open-air exhibition. The organizers, however, are straying far from Milwaukee’s light lager roots, opting instead for a West Coast double IPA that’s bold, refreshing, and comes in at a serious 8.8 percent.

Sculpture Milwaukee Monumental IPA arrives courtesy of the latest collaboration between Company Brewing, a local microbrewery and music venue, and the Beer Endowment, a Wisconsin-based project that creates new beers to support artist-run organizations. The beer will be available at select Milwaukee bars and restaurants.

John Riepenhoff, the founder of Beer Endowment and Sculpture Milwaukee’s guest curator for the past two years, believes the beer is symbolic of the conversations people are having about art thanks to the annual exhibition.

“In Milwaukee, we obviously have our own beer history and collaborative social spirit,” Riepenhoff said. “With Monumental IPA, we’re adding to the story by using the beer as a way to welcome people into the conversations Sculpture Milwaukee has already started.”

A beer can featuring a design of six eyes on a yellow background

Sculpture Milwaukee’s Monumental IPA brewed by Company Brewing in partnership with the Beer Endowment. Photo: Sculpture Milwaukee.

The 16-ounce can design is by Nat Pyper, a self-described alphabet artist and former Milwaukee resident. It features a set of six hand scribbled eyes on a sun yellow background.

Pyper’s label design along with other work will form part of “Actual Fractals, Act II,” which is set to open to the public on June 3. It will begin with a week’s worth of tours and artists talks, though the artist lineup is yet to be announced

Last year’s exhibition selected work from seven artists including Isamu Noguchi, Erika Verzutti, and Lars Fisk and placed them throughout Milwaukee’s downtown.

row of yellow tin beers

Sculpture Milwaukee’s custom beer is a strong West Coast IPA. Photo: Sculpture Milwaukee.

After 10 years of planning by founder Steve Marcus, the first edition of Sculpture Milwaukee took place in 2017. The goal was to revitalized parts of downtown Milwaukee, make sculpture accessible to residents, and draw tourists. It has staged work by some of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists including Agnes Denes, Sol LeWitt, Hank Willis Thomas, Lawrence Weiner, and Sarah Lucas, often in delightful and unexpected locations.

Beer Endowment was founded by Riepenhoff in 2014 with the goal of driving funding to small arts organizations. Originally, Riepenhoff brewed the beer himself, but after receiving support from the Mary Nohl Foundation, the NEWaukee advertising agency, and the Milwaukee Arts Board, the operation expanded.

To date, Beer Endowment has created brews for Blue Dress Park, Poor Farm, a place of art experiments and residencies, Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park. Each is customized to match the personality of the art organization.

“As we continue to gear up and build on Sculpture Milwaukee’s success, we’re not only finding more ways to collaborate and co-invest to support more artists, but also to spark new conversations about public art that are as important internationally as they are to Milwaukeeans who might enjoy the wonder and surprise of discovering,” Riepenhoff said.

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