Art Fair on the Square

The annual Art Fair on the Square will be Saturday and July 15 this year. This year's event will be the fair's 60th. 

For the last six decades, people from all over the Midwest have flocked to Madison for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's biggest fundraising event. Art Fair on the Square has helped thousands of professional artists sell and promote their work.

“There is going to be artwork that appeals to a wide range of people,” said Erika Monroe-Kane, director of communications for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Not bad for an event that began in a parking lot in 1959. The original “Sidewalk Art Show” had just 43 artists. The fair moved downtown in 1964, and changed its name in 1977 when it relocated to the streets surrounding the Capitol.

The event, taking place next Saturday and Sunday, has grown to featuring 500 artists this year, and almost 200,000 people are expected to attend. Art Fair on the Square is one of the largest art fairs in the Midwest, and is rated as one of the best fine art shows in North America by “Sunshine Artist” and “Art Fair Sourcebook.”

The fair "makes the city a cultural hub," because “it connects people with the transformative power of art,” said Monroe-Kane.

According to Monroe-Kane, artist selection is “extremely competitive.” This year’s featured artist is Kansas-based artist Justin Marable. Marable creates works of various styles, and his work has appeared in local, regional and national publications.

This year’s featured artwork is "Primordial Pump," which is a serigraph/monoprint. It was produced as part of a series featuring legendary creatures. The piece will be on display and available for bidding in a silent auction in a tent on Wisconsin Avenue. Works from hundreds of other artists will also be available for silent auction.

Monroe-Kane believes the fair has grown as large as it has because of the quality of artwork.

“It’s beautiful. I’m from out of town, and I was amazed the first time I went,” Monroe-Kane said.

While patrons are enjoying the art, there will be plenty of options to satisfy their hunger, with empanadas, Mediterranean sandwiches, Wisconsin brats and vegetarian and gluten-free options all for sale.

There will also be 30 group and individual musical acts performing on the Capitol Square. There will also be an area where little ones can enjoy free arts and crafts projects.

Art Fair on the Square starts on Saturday, July 14, and runs from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The fair concludes on Sunday, July 15, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.