Folks in the know know the retail building at the corner of 57th and Vliet Streets as the home to a long-lived children’s bookshop – and the site of some of the loveliest tile on Vliet Street (which is definitely saying something!).
The side of the building that has been home to Rainbow Booksellers since 1994 will soon be painted with a mural called The Heights Dream Library, a reference to its Washington Heights neighborhood on the West Side of Milwaukee.
The mural will be painted by artist Fred Kaems, who lives in the neighborhood.
Kaems, who has painted many indoor and outdoor murals in the area, recently drew attention when he painted an "In This Together" mural on the garage door of his Washington Heights home.
The mural will be a unique one in town, seeking to promote literacy among adults and children.
The plan calls for the mural to be painted by Labor Day.
The artwork, which will depict books on shelves, also hopes to promote connections with libraries and boost neighborhood involvement.
Sponsored by the Washington Heights Neighborhood Association and supported in part with a Milwaukee Arts Board grant, organizers are hoping the neighborhood will get involved by suggesting imaginary book titles to be featured in the mural, to sponsor a book with a $500 donation or make a donation of any amount. All of these things can be done via the project web site.
Book sponsors can use their book titles and authors as tributes, paying homage to a loved one or a beloved teacher or librarian.
"We have owned this building for over 20 years, and this wall has been calling out to me," says Schley. "As my wife (Barbara Haig) and I thought about what we find important, literacy and art rose to the top. I pictured an enormous bookcase filled with glorious books!
"Through an RFP, we connected with Fred Kaems, a wonderful muralist who lives here in Washington Heights. The grant from the Milwaukee Arts Board brought us to the starting gate, but what we really need now is book title ideas. We want anyone, anywhere to submit ideas on the form. We're confident that enough people will also want to become a Book Sponsor and dedicate a book to someone so that we can match the Board's funds."
At the time of writing, $900 of a $7,500 goal had been raised.
In-kind donations have been made by Doug Peterson Painting, LLC, and Hallman-Lindsey, Mequon.
You can follow the project's progress at its Facebook page.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.