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Art Madness: Bracket-style artist showdown is back in Tosa

Discover Wauwatosa

If you’re looking for something a little different to do this weekend, the village of Wauwatosa will do you one better with an event that I’ve certainly never encountered anywhere else.

Now in its third year, ART 64 should sound familiar to anyone who watches either of the NCAA basketball tournaments every spring. Borrowing that format, the Tosa event happening today and Saturday brings 64 artists and thousands of visitors to the village center for the largest juried live painting tournament in Wisconsin.

It started with a pool of 329 applicants from 20 states and three countries before organizers whittled it down to the 64 who will put paint to canvas from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Everyone in attendance will be able to watch the artists at work and vote for their favorites online, with the leaders advancing to the next round.

“The interaction between the artists competing in the event and members of the public makes ART 64 unlike any other public art experience,” Wauwatosa deputy city administrator Melissa Weiss said in a release. “Artists are able to connect with one another, and visitors have the opportunity to explore the Village of Wauwatosa while being able to watch talented artists create original work.”

Unlike the NCAA tourney, Tosa’s version is just three rounds, the last of which features 16 artists competing for a grand prize of $20,000. Most of the action happens Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the added bonus of the Tosa Farmers Market being held that morning. On top of the art being created, there will be food and musical performances lining Tosa’s streets, plus a dedicated kids area.

After everything wraps up, the paintings created for the event will be available for purchase via an online silent auction — yet another benefit to the artists who participate, including 2023 winner Lori Ehlke.

“ART 64 is like no other art competition out there. As an artist, I loved the interaction with the public and being able to be part of such a well-organized and fun event,” she said in the release. “I enjoyed meeting other artists and art enthusiasts … it was such an amazing family-oriented celebration of art.”

For more information about the event, including links to vote on and buy the art being created, visit the ART 64 website.