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Black Cat Alley hosts 2018 Mural Festival during Doors Open to welcome new artwork

The East Side kicked off the installment of three new murals at Black Cat Alley during Doors Open Milwaukee on September 22 an 23, making a total of six new public artworks released in 2018 in the space.

Following in the tradition of the original installation in 2016, the Black Cat Alley held a Mural Festival to celebrate and “unveil” the new murals to the community.

All three artists are Milwaukee-based and they were chosen by a six-person jury from among more than fifty entries. Most submissions came from within Wisconsin, but many were applying as nationally-known, out of town artists.

“The call for artists did not specify Milwaukee as a restriction,” said Program Director Stacey Williams-Ng. “Nor did we feel a pinch from budget restrictions. We chose these three proposals because they really stood out, and we are very glad to feature Milwaukee artists.”

The three artists are Ken Brown, David Najib Kasir, and Byada Meredith.

Black Cat Alley’s Mural Festival, hosted by the East Side BID (Business Improvement District), was also a part of th “Fall Experiment.” The entire block of the Black Cat Alley District, including the UW-Milwaukee Kenilworth campus and the Oriental Theater, were filled with overlapping experiences. The event highlight the incredible talent Milwaukee enjoys in the worlds of tech, art, film and music.

Visitors to the Mural Festival on September 22-23 will enjoy new art installations, dance performances, food trucks and more. All are welcome to enjoy other aspects of the Fall Experiment as well, as most of the events are free and open to the public.

“This has been an exciting year of happenings in the Alley. The more programming we can bring to Black Cat Alley, the better,” said Kristin Godfrey, Executive Director of the East Side BID. “It is a place that stimulates conversations and benefits the whole community.”

Black Cat Alley was the brainchild of local citizens and volunteers, and has become a major arts destination for Milwaukee. It stands as a model for other public mural projects. The space includes work by more than twenty artists in a one-block alleyway.

This collection of images features highlights at Black Cat Alley during the Doors Open festivities. Pictures documenting the installation process of each new mural by the three artists can be found in the companion Photo Essays.

In addition to the three new murals, the Black Cat Alley garden was installed along with unique wayfinding signage. The little accent sculptures accompanied each of the murals, and were put into place early on September 23. A few hours later, amidst heavy crowds of selfie-taking visitors, several of the one-of-a-kind pieces were stolen.

“I understand the impulse to want something beautiful, but this art is for everyone,” said Williams-Ng. “This is straight up theft. We’re very angry, and we’re very hurt.”

This is the second high profile art theft in a week, after an original mural at a bus shelter was taken and the culprit fled on a MCTS bus. Anyone with information about the missing Black Cat Alley artwork is urged to call (414) 477-7282, a reward is being offered.

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