More than 100 artists entered a competition to add murals to the East Side's Black Cat Alley this month and a community jury selected a pair of Milwaukee artists and another from Stevens Point to paint new works in the city's best permanent outdoor art gallery.
Yuly Catalina Bayona Pineda and Adjua Nsoroma, of Milwaukee, and Stephon Freeman, of Stevens Point, will add their murals in the coming weeks, joining another new mural painted earlier this year by Denver's DETOUR (aka Thomas Evans), while he was in town to paint a giant mural in West Allis.
DETOUR's mural in the alley is a portrait of musician Lex Allen.
The public call for artists opened to Wisconsin residents 18 and over in August, with special consideration given to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women artists.
Artists' fees and materials for the new murals are being funded by three grants awarded to the East Side BID in 2020: The Herzfeld Grant, a grant from the Heil Family Foundation and a Community Improvement Project (CIP) matching grant from the City of Milwaukee.
Created in 2016, Black Cat Alley – running north/south between Kenilworth and Ivanhoe Places, and Prospect and Farwell Avenues – is managed by Wallpapered City and owned by the East Side BID. It is free and open to the public 24/7, all year long. It draws more than 10,000 people each year.
Murals painted there are semi-permanent, remaining on view for three to five years. New murals have been added nearly every year since the gallery opened.
"Black Cat Alley is such an important cultural asset in the city of Milwaukee," says East Side BID Director Elizabeth Brodek. "We know that it’s important to keep adding to it, to keep it fresh, so that it will stay relevant and exciting to re-visit."
Black Cat Alley murals are semi-permanent, remaining in the destination space for approximately 3-5 years.
The artists are expected to begin work on the murals soon after Labor Day weekend. Visitors are invited to watch.
"We unveiled Black Cat Alley in 2016, just in time for a big reveal at Doors Open Milwaukee," says Wallpapered City founder Stacey Williams-Ng.
"So it’s so great to add new murals to the collection for the four-year anniversary, and just in time – again! – or Doors Open (which is virtual this year). We are so proud to be giving jobs to artists, and to be showcasing the talents of local artists in such an iconic space."
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 an episode of TV's "Party of Five," 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.