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For Immediate Release
Contact: Madison Goldbeck, [email protected], (414) 708-3820

Milwaukee Arts Board announces 2024 Artists of the Year, Friends of the Arts Award honorees

MILWAUKEE – The City of Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) is announcing the 2024 Mildred L. Harpole Artists of the Year and 2024 Friends of the Arts award recipients. These honorees recognize and celebrate excellence and exceptional service in Milwaukee’s arts community.

Artists Fatima Laster and Justin Goodrum were named the 2024 Artists of the Year, while Jacobo Lovo and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger were named the 2024 Friends of the Arts.

“Milwaukee’s arts community makes our city a vibrant and unique hub for every resident and visitor,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson. “Through their artistic talents, our city fosters an inspiring cultural landscape. I applaud the 2024 Artists of the Year and Friends of the Arts for their drive to enrich the lives of those who call our city home.”

“I am proud to honor this year’s Artists of the Year and Friends of the Arts. Our creative community helps make Milwaukee a thriving population by providing a sense of belonging,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Chair of the Milwaukee Arts Board. “These artists are making a profound impact. I celebrate their contributions and commitment to making Milwaukee’s arts and cultural scene successful.”

2024 is the second year that the Milwaukee Arts Board accepted award nominations from the public. All award recipients will be honored on June 11, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. in the City Hall Rotunda. Local arts organizations receiving MAB-sustaining grants will be recognized as well.

More information on this year’s honorees is below.

  • Fatima Laster, 2024 Mildred L. Harpole Artist of the Year

Fatima Laster is a self-taught interdisciplinary visual artist, curator, and proprietor of 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios. With a Black American vantage point, Laster’s independent and communal practice broaches social-political subject matter (i.e. racism, sexism, classism, cultural appropriation, and housing/land displacement a.k.a “gentrification” or “deracination”), producing resistance art imbued with humor or irony to disarmingly reveal rejected or overlooked perspectives and people. Laster’s honors include the Museum of Wisconsin Art 2022 Biennial, 2022 Wisconsin Triennial Guest Curator, 2023 Mary L. Nohl Fellow, her first solo exhibition in “Enough Too Fly Solo” at 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios, and now the 2024 Milwaukee Arts Board Mildred L. Harpole Artist of the Year.

“Thank you so much for this award and honor of my life's work,” Laster said. “It's really motivating and humbling all at once. Beyond focusing on me, I’m sharing this accomplishment with my steadfast supporters. The longevity in this precarious career would be impossible without them. I also hope this recognition is inspiring and catalyzing for others chartering self-taught or non-traditional paths and encouragement to remain genuine, committed, daring, and flexible while doing the hard work of thinking, doing and being different in face of archaic, comfortable, and, at times, formidable modes.”

  • Justin Goodrum, 2024 Mildred L. Harpole Artist of the Year

Justin Goodrum is a director, producer, and writer who harnesses the power of film to amplify voices that have long been marginalized or overlooked. With a deep-seated belief that stories truly flourish when they embrace a multitude of perspectives, Goodrum’s work shines a light on narratives that challenge our assumptions and expand our worldview. Through the art of cinema, Goodrum invites audiences to explore the complexities of the human experience and encourages empathy and understanding.

“I'm truly honored to receive this award and as a proud resident of Milwaukee,” Goodrum said. “I look forward to connecting to create meaningful work that inspires my community.”

  • Jacobo Lovo, 2024 Friend of the Arts

Jacobo Lovo is the Managing Artistic Director of Latino Arts, Inc. He received his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) and his K-12 Art Education Teaching Certification from Alverno College. As an expert art educator, Lovo led colleagues at United Community Center’s (UCC) Bruce Guadalupe Community School (BGCS), a charter school in Milwaukee, through a federal grant to promote arts integration into the reading and math curriculum. He also developed an Art curriculum that has been recognized at the state and national levels including the Wisconsin Art Educators Association (WAEA), the National Art Educators Association (NAEA), and by The College Board for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. As Managing Artist Director of Latino Arts, Inc., Lovo believes in the positive impact the arts have on our quality of life and bringing communities together through cultural arts traditions. He strongly believes the arts play a crucial role in strengthening economic vitality along with attracting and developing diverse talent throughout the greater Milwaukee Area and the United States. Lovo serves on the Joy Engine Board of Directors, the Future Exhibit Committee at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Community Advisory Group at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and is part of the Haggerty Museum’s Art Collections Committee. Throughout his career, Lovo aims to provide greater community access to learn about cultural arts traditions from the diverse Hispanic community along with creating greater access to the arts for the Hispanic community and underserved youth in the Greater Milwaukee area.

“Thank you to Milwaukee Arts Board for this recognition,” Lovo said. “I’m extremely proud of the work we do at Latino Arts to strengthen and preserve the cultural heritage of the diverse Hispanic community in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. I’m thrilled to be able to showcase the growing talent of Hispanic artists in Milwaukee and beyond and help others learn more about the culture while building community through our exhibitions and events.”

  • Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, 2024 Friend of the Arts

Jessica Meuninck-Ganger has made a lifelong commitment to using the creative disciplines as a catalyst for connection, expression, and positive change within our community. Through roles as an artist, educator, mentor, and activist spanning over 25 years, she has collaboratively curated community spaces and opportunities to make art accessible as a source of healing, joy, and unity. As she continues developing resources and consulting with organizations, she remains driven by the belief that imagination and creativity are potent forces for strengthening the human experience.

Meuninck-Ganger received a BS degree in Art Education from Ball State University and an MFA in Studio Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is currently an Associate Professor of Printmaking and Book Arts and Director of Graduate Studies in Art and Design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She serves on the Executive Boards of Anchor Press, Paper and Print, and the House of R.A.D. in Milwaukee, WI.

“Being recognized as a ‘Friend of the Arts’ is an exceptional honor that underscores my lifelong commitment to using the creative disciplines as a catalyst for connection, expression, and positive change within our community,” Meuninck-Ganger said. “Through roles as an artist, educator, mentor, and activist spanning over 25 years, I have had the privilege of guiding and learning alongside incredibly talented students as they create profoundly meaningful works of art. Collaboratively curating community spaces for grieving and volunteering at neighborhood events have provided vital opportunities to make art accessible as a source of healing, joy, and unity. As I continue developing resources and consulting with organizations, I remain driven by the belief that imagination and creativity are potent forces for strengthening the human experience. I am deeply grateful for this recognition and the ability to be a ‘Friend of the Arts’ in our city, neighborhoods. and beyond.”

The Artists of the Year program was inaugurated in 1995 by former Alderman and MAB Chair Wayne Frank. The Artists of the Year Award was renamed in 2020 in honor of the late, beloved arts board member Mildred L. Harpole. Each recipient receives a $1,500 cash award. Funds used to launch the first award included a memorial bequest in honor of Milwaukee artist and former MAB member Jim Chism. Additional funds for the award come from MAB members.

Established in 2012, the Friends of the Arts Award is given to individuals who, often behind the scenes, have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to Milwaukee’s arts community.

The MAB sustaining grant program is funded by the City of Milwaukee, with support from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts. MAB also awards matching funds annually for public art conservation.

More information is available at milwaukee.gov/MAB.

Commissioner Lafayette L. Crump 

Lafayette L. Crump, Commissioner 


 809 North Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202 




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