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Female artists transform Kinnickinnic streetscape into mural tapestry

For the second summer in a row, Milwaukee has seen a partnership between local businesses and the art community to improve the city’s economic health and social wellbeing.

In 2016 it was the installation of Black Cat Alley, a project on the east side that turned a troubled space into an art destination. This summer, two projects in as many months have rolled out with the purpose to put Milwaukee on the art map and generate more tourist driven foot traffic.

In May, Steve Marcus rolled out his Sculpture Milwaukee installation along downtown’s Wisconsin Avenue.

This week Bay View’s Kinnickinnic Avenue BID officially rolled out its finished
“Street Canvas” initiative. Inspired by the Black Cat Alley project, and organized by Stacey Williams-Ng, director of Wallpapered City, five female artists produced outdoor murals across a section of one of the city’s most busy street routes.

“We did not start out to make this an all-female roster, but when we saw that a majority of the cast of characters were female, we decided to go for it,” said Williams-Ng. “At present, the world of street art is predominantly male, and I suspect this is because we mostly don’t see other women doing it, so nothing changes.”

With the growing national appreciation for the value of mural art in a local community, the Kinnickinnic Avenue BID decided on the Street Canvas project as a key part of its enhancement efforts for the commercial corridor. Bay View has a reputation for being an artist community, and the large scale murals reflect that creative energy.

“What has surprised me most has been the reaction of other building owners and businesses, who are now asking for mural art on their buildings,” added Williams-Ng. “Three years ago, when we were planning Black Cat Alley, a project that really demonstrated to Milwaukee how impactful murals can be, we were told by artists that no one in Milwaukee wants murals. But now that these waves of mural art have begun, building owners are very eager to get in on this movement.”

The murals along a mile stretch of Kinnickinnic Avenue were produced by local artists Nova Czarnecki, Jenny Jo Kristan, Dena Nord, Jenny Anderson, and Rozalia Hernandez-Singh.

Over the installation period, from May 22 to June 9, the Milwaukee Independent photo documented the mural painting process.

Those images are included with a short Q&A from each artist, to showcase and share a personal insight into this ambitious project that adds to the growing momentum of establishing Milwaukee as an art destination.

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