CoPA History and Mission


CoPA Mission Statement

The mission of the Coalition of Photographic Arts is to develop appreciation, promote growth and support the creation of photographic arts in the Greater Milwaukee Region.

About CoPA

The Coalition of Photographic Arts was founded in 2004 by a group of Milwaukee area photographers passionate about sharing their skills, experience and enthusiasm for the medium. Working with students, beginners, other professional photographers, ardent amateurs and artists, our founders explored fine art photography from an aesthetic, technical and developmental perspective, which remains the foundation of CoPA’s mission.

Today, the fine arts photography organization carries on our founders’ vision of promoting photographic excellence through educational programs, lectures, panel discussions, workshops, field trips and Milwaukee photography exhibitions. CoPA forges relationships within the photographic community and the arts community as a whole through monthly meetings, portfolio reviews, museum and gallery tours, juried member exhibitions, sponsored events and much more.

CoPA is directed by a member-elected board focused on developing member experiences that will give photographers at any level the tools they need to advance to the next level and to remain curious, invested and exhilarated about photography and its possibilities.

Our membership of nearly 200 includes artists, students, professionals, amateurs, enthusiasts and collectors. CoPA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit fine arts photography organization.

CoPA Events


Members Exhibition

CoPA and our generous sponsors host various member exhibits each year, from the grand scale of the atrium in The Blue at 310 W. Wisconsin Avenue, to the Pfister Hotel’s prestigious art gallery, to numerous public spaces, corporations, galleries and other venues. In 2016, CoPA partnered with the Wisconsin ALS Association for the first annual “Picture a Cure” photography fundraiser, bringing hundreds of people through the exhibit and raising thousands of dollars for research to end Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Juried Exhibition

2018 marks CoPA’s 11th Annual Juried Exhibition hosted by the Var Gallery in Walker’s Point. Each year a renowned juror/s chooses from the best of the best in the fine arts photography organization for CoPA’s signature exhibition. This year CoPA is thrilled to announce jurors John Sobczak, director of The Alice Wilds gallery, and Tyler Friedman, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. CoPA celebrates another year at the intimate, edgy Art*Bar in the Riverwest Arts District with an annual cutting edge juried exhibit.This year jurors from Milwaukee Magazine’s elite design team will judge a body of work, “Assignment: Portrait Milwaukee” opening September 4, 2018 at the Alverno Art Galleries. Be sure to check our CoPA’s event calendar for all upcoming exhibitions.


Private Lectures & Tours...(and Parties)

A proud community outreach advocate, CoPA has forged alliances with museums and galleries throughout Wisconsin to offer the fine art photography organization members and guests private tours and lectures on internationally acclaimed permanent photography collections. Members are invited “into the vault” for an unparalleled insider experience.

The Milwaukee photography organization plans scholarship fundraising parties, summer picnics, mixers, meeting after-parties and impromptu get-togethers.


Portfolio Reviews

CoPA periodically offers scheduled reviews of members’ photography portfolios by curators, gallerists, arts professionals and educators. In addition, the Milwaukee photography organization has ambassadors; professional photographers and experienced fine art photographers, who offer constructive criticism and guidance for an hour before each monthly member meeting.

You must be a member to take advantage of ambassador portfolio reviews.



From the wild imagination of Dr. Nathaniel Stern and his scanner-imaging workshop Breaking Art to the fine-tuned craft and light shaping of commercial photographer Nick Collura, 2016 is a banner year for the fine arts photography organization’s workshop series. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the Milwaukee photography organization offers hands-on educational experiences to encourage and develop photographic excellence at every level.


Monthly Meetings

Free to members and open to the public (for a $7 fee), the monthly member meeting features top-notch speakers, panel discussions, presentations of members’ work, and more. From award-winning portrait, landscape, conceptual, social commentary, editorial, conservation, wildlife photographers and more, the Milwaukee photography organization attracts exciting talent from around the world.