IN:SITE, a non-profit group in Milwaukee dedicated to creating public, temporary art installations, recently introduced a new project called "On and Off Capitol." Five local artists revealed seven installations on 35th Street and Capitol Drive and the majority will stay in place until the spring of 2011.
The art installations were created on billboards, murals, lightposts, a railway underpass and as yard signs. (The yard signs were taken down temporarily due to the high winds last week, but will be replaced next week.) There is also an installation on the former A.O. Smith Office Building and signage at bus shelters.
The local artists based their projects on dialogues had within the community.
One of the lead artists, Sarah Luther, spent many hours in the Century City area drawing people and writing down things they said. Later, Luther created 400 individual yard signs, making her offering one of the largest art yard sign projects ever undertaken.
"Children have been mesmerized," says IN:SITE chairwoman, Pegi Christiansen. "I know one of the children drawn by Luther will become an artist based on the experience of participating."
Some of the yard signs were created by neighborhood school children at Southeastern Education Center, including artwork by a 12-year-old girl named Geraci Davis. Also, a billboard with five large portraits by Luther of area children saying "We live in this Neighborhood" was installed.
According to Christiansen, there has been incredible support for this project from The Corridor, businesses, churches, government, organizations and residents. The project has received help from the State of Wisconsin and the City and County of Milwaukee including multiple aldermen and the Department of City Development, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Neighborhood Services and Felmers Chaney Correctional Center.
Christiansen says, "From the distribution of 8,000 broadsides to the engineering feat of cinching vinyl that can last through a Wisconsin winter on 33 railway underpass columns, this was IN:SITE's biggest and boldest project."
In addition Christiansen thanks artists Luther, Marly Gisser, Colin Matthes, Marla Sanvick and Paula Schulze for their commitment to the community and the project. "They accomplished more than IN:SITE dreamed was possible," says Christiansen.
"On and Off Capitol" was visualized after the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation and Business Improvement District #37 asked IN:SITE to create a bold presence along Capitol Drive near the Century City site to bring attention to the neighborhood during the infrastructure phase of the site's development.
The City of Milwaukee will be investing over 30 million dollars to turn 84 acres of the former A.O. Smith property into a business park. Talgo, a Spanish train company, already moved in, but it will take until the end of 2012 to finish demolition and environmental cleanup. To help fill in the gap, IN:SITE and the artists have spent a great deal of time in the neighborhood making connections.
IN:SITE creates public art and also advocates locally and nationally for policies that will promote the inclusion of temporary public art and provides information so artists and organizations can move forward on projects. The Corridor is sponsoring a second cycle of art at this location that will be installed in June of 2011.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.