The final Night Market of the season is tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 16. You shouldn't miss it.
You'll also probably find it hard to miss the new large black and white geometric mural that's perched on the side of parking structure near the corner of 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. It, as well as the other creative efforts around the surface lot, has come about through many very loose knit – maybe sometimes unwitting – collaborations between numerous private groups. See if you can keep track of them.
The new mural was created in partnership between Zilber Property Group and Reginald Baylor Studio, which is a part of Plaid Tuba, and is titled, "The Answer to the Area…A.) Persons B.) Places C.)Things D.) All of the Above E.) None of the Above."
Yep, that's the name. It is intended to spark public conversation about the potential of the west side of Downtown, known as Westown.
The mural is comprised of equations and symbols, creating probably many a question without defining what an answer could be. The artist hopes that everyone viewing it can come away with a different solution or answer to the question.
Via a spokesperson for the project I found out that Zilber Property Group commissioned Reginald Baylor Studio to create a large piece of public art that would capture the attention of motorists and pedestrians in the Westown neighborhood.
"The piece is about creative intelligence," said Baylor. "The other side of intelligence would be logical intelligence, where you would normally see numbers. My formula to solve problems is to put creativity before the numbers."
The piece is part of Baylor's "Formulaic" series.
"The first formula I exhibited was at the Haggerty Museum for a 'Current Tendencies' show." It was inspired by the works of Keith Haring and Basquiat.
John Kersey, executive vice president of Zilber Ltd. said, "This is about the arts and private business community coming together to do something positive for the city."
He added, "Zilber Property Group has been a part of the Westown neighborhood for a long time and we believe in its future potential. We recognized this as a unique opportunity to give back to the community by adding some visual interest to a brick and mortar landscape." The mural is a continuation of efforts put in place by Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee Development Corp. (WAM-DC), NEWaukee, and other groups to revitalize the Westown community.
And there's more. Looking beyond the mural to the surface lot over which it looks, our talented creative director Jason McDowell tells me that placemaking like this can create opportunities and more questions.
"The area between 4th and 5th on Wisconsin Avenue that these murals are attempting to activate is a mostly empty surface parking lot smack dab in the middle of a busy downtown retail sector," says McDowell.
"That plot is currently being used to test out new visions of what else it could be besides a snoozing ground for inactive automobiles."
Dan Casanova, the senior economic development specialist for the city's Redevelopment Authority, told me the parking lot belongs to the city, and they have been working with Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee Development Corporation to revitalize and promote West Wisconsin Avenue.
"That started several years ago when we held a tailgate party in the parking lot for a Brewers game," said Casanova. "Then, last year, a portion of the parking lot was used for the Night Markets. This spring, we signed a lease agreement with Creative Alliance Milwaukee to continue activating a portion of the parking lot. They are trying a number of different things, from art to performances, food and drink."
Creative Alliance Milwaukee, a group that is working to drive economic prosperity through creative industries has created "The Spot 4MKE," which includes a surface mural by artists from TRUE Skool and some life-sized games, but also endless possibilities for those interested in taking advantage of the new area.
Carol Voss, who is programming The Spot 4MKE, which is located near the mural in the parking lot said, "We are part of the rejuvenation of Westown and Wisconsin Avenue and involved in the creative place making initiatives that are happening in our city to enhance quality of life and showcase Milwaukee's creative community. I want to create 'surprise and delight' in Downtown Milwaukee. We are also working with Kubala Washatko Architects, Project for Public Spaces in NYC as consultants and have sponsorships from Southwest Airlines and partnerships throughout Milwaukee."
So that's Zilber Property Group, Plaid Tuba, Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee Development Corp., Newaukee, TRUE Skool, Kubala Washatko Architects, Project for Public Spaces and Southwest Airlines. Whew!
Surely the days of this parking lot as a parking lot are numbered. As for the parking structure in its shadow? It's already better thanks to this new mural.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.