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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

IN:SITE celebrates a year of public art


Temporary art is meant to only be around for a short time and art organization IN:SITE has been rotating public pieces of art since last year at the Gateway to North Avenue, between 35th and 38th Streets.

In celebration of a year of activity, IN:SITE launches new pieces of art in a new neighborhood with a day of activities on May 5.

IN:SITE chair Pegi Taylor says what makes her the happy is the fact that there has been such a strong response to the art that the group is exhibiting. There were only some people creating temporary, public art in 2005, she says, and IN:SITE decided that it was high time that there was more.

"Now we've seen it happen and I've been able to move forward with temporary public art in Milwaukee. People are coming to us and saying we want this," Taylor says. "People see art (as a) response to neighborhoods, response to particular places. People get it and it means something to them and they're asking 'Can you do it in our neighborhood and in this setting.' So it's been really exciting to have work seen."

When one gas station owner saw the art and was adamant about getting some work in her gas station, Taylor obliged. The E&M Citgo, 3708 W. North Ave., will now have a 3-D mural by Colin Matthes called "Everyday Transactions: The Familiar Inconceivable."

"This is art with meaning," Taylor says. "It's not pretty, it's not simple. It's complex and challenging art."

While IN:SITE has worked primarily on North Avenue, this spring it expands into Bay View, unveiling seven installations there on May 5.

Taylor says that the Bay View Neighborhood Association approached IN:SITE with the idea of creating some public art in Bay View. The collaboration, she says, has been perfect with many of the business owners getting behind the art and even collaborating with the artists.

Some of the public art pieces have been quite ambitious. Two MIAD students, Bridget Quinn and Jessica Vandevort, came up with "The Urban Radio Network," a way of talking to several people in the area with two-way radios set up along the street. IN:SITE spent almost three months investigating possible legal ramifications of the project.

"There are going to be these boxes at least seven locations, press a button speak into it, You can potentially hear this voice speaking to you. You can go to radio and talk back to that person. Bay View cares about that; people communicating to one another," Taylor says. "There were possible sound issues, but the radios are not turned up enough for a disturbance of peace that way."

But, the "Urban Radio Network" does bring up some possible speech issues.

"What if someone says something someone else doesn't want to hear? We aren't encouraging that. We had to make sure everyone was protected with what might be said in the radio," Taylor says. "That's really protected speech. But we spent two months doing the legal work to make sure it would be OK."

IN:SITE will also reprise the one-day installation of "(PARK)ing," a national movement for green spaces. It's what Taylor calls, quoting Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," is a chance to fight against the paving of "paradise to put up a parking lot." The program encourages the reverse … at least temporarily.

"You take a parking space for a day (and) you can make it into a green space," Taylor says. "Roll in grass, put in trees. The notion is to transform parking spaces into green spaces."

Taylor says that the City has been supportive of the installment and The Bay View Garden and Yard Society will help artist Rosheen Styczinski put it all together.

Marking the one year anniversary is a big deal for IN:SITE and Taylor hopes to keep up the momentum.

"I don't think there are any limits. We keep working out dynamics. I think being around for a year we've done a lot, done a lot of work and it's entirely volunteer. We're working not only on ongoing relations with neighborhoods, but artists. What IN:SITE cares about is with most art, it ends up being plop art. IN:SITE is being an ongoing partner in the community. We're there before, during and after working with people."


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