Brew Town to bop to the Beastie Beat

Milwaukee has always walked to the beat of a different public art drum. As a city, we've never really "stepped up to the plate" with huge art projects that often single-handedly define a city as great.

The Beastie Beat might just change the way our city thinks about the unlimited positives of public art. Couple the news of the huge decorated Beasties project with the new Milwaukee Art Museum expansion, the Airport's "Blue Shirt" and the Riverwalk's River Sculpture and you have an explosion of collaborative outdoor public art projects that will all help Milwaukee shine.

So what is The Beastie Beat? You've seen them, we are pretty sure. Crafted of fiberglass and traditionally painted in bright primary colors, Beasties were first conceived more than 20 years ago as a doodle by artist Dennis Pearson. You see Beasties in homes, yards and in the DeLind Fine Art gallery downtown. They are rather lovable and odd creatures, but kids young and old love them.

Modeled after (finally Milwaukee is realizing it's okay to copy success) the highly successful "Cows on Parade," (which took to the streets of Chicago, New York and other cities, too) Milwaukee's Beastie project will debut in summer 2002 and is designed to add to the city's renaissance and civic pride, attracting families and tourists alike.

Milwaukee will catch the Beastie Beat as dozens of decorated Beasties are displayed in and around downtown next summer. Capitalizing on the Milwaukee renaissance created in part by the city's arts groups, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, each Beastie will be painted or decorated in a unique, musical motif by a professional artist. The sculptures will be funded by corporate and private sponsorships. Proceeds from the project will benefit the MSO's education programs, which serve more than 50,000 students and families each year.

How can you get involved? Area corporations and private donors are invited to sponsor the decoration of a Beastie under the broad-based umbrella theme of music. Much like music, the Beastie Beat will showcase the dynamic variety of Milwaukee's arts communities while also celebrating the city as a whole. Non-profit groups may purchase a Beastie to use as a fundraiser after its display as a part of the exhibition.

Decorated Beasties from the Beastie Beat will be unveiled at the May 2002 Symphony Ball, which may be held for the first time at Cathedral Square Park, although the location has yet to be finalized. Beasties will "roam" the areas of downtown from June-August 2002. Call the Beastie Beat hotline at (414) 291-6010 x 450 with any questions.

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