Two Milwaukee artists and one Stevens Point artist will paint murals in September at Milwaukee’s premier street art destination, Black Cat Alley.

Black Cat Alley is a public arts destination owned by the East Side BID, and managed by the artist-led group that founded it in 2016, Wallpapered City. Black Cat Alley is free and open to the public 24/7, year-round, and is visited by over 10,000 people every year.

Located between Kenilworth and Ivanhoe, it is nestled in the alley between the Oriental Theatre on Farwell Avenue and Colectivo Coffee on Prospect Avenue in the historic East Side neighborhood of Milwaukee.

The artists were chosen by a community jury, from over 100 entries to the Call for Artists this summer, which was open to any Wisconsin artist or artist team over 18 years of age. Artist fees and materials for the murals have been made possible by three new grants won by 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.

Elizabeth Brodek, Director of the East Side (North Avenue) BID, has been working alongside Wallpapered City to help facilitate the new murals.

“Black Cat Alley is such an important cultural asset in the city of Milwaukee. 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,” said Brodek.

In August, a public call for artists opened to Wisconsin residents, with preference given to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women artists. The project celebrates diversity while showcasing local artistic talents.

The murals began installation after the Labor Day weekend. Visitors to Black Cat Alley interested in watching the mural-making in progress were encouraged to support neighborhood businesses when visiting, and to practice safe social distancing.

“We unveiled Black Cat Alley in 2016, just in time for a big reveal at Doors Open Milwaukee – the annual citywide tour event that draws thousands of new visitors to Milwaukee destinations every year,” said Stacey Williams-Ng, founder of Wallpapered City. “So it’s so great to add new murals to the collection for the 4-year anniversary and just in time — again — for Doors Open.”

Doors Open 2020 will be held mostly virtual due to the coronavirus, although outdoor destinations such as Black Cat Alley will still be accessible during the event, which takes place this year between September 26 and October 11.

“We are so proud to be giving jobs to artists, and to be showcasing the talents of local artists in such an iconic space,” added Williams-Ng.

The artists chosen for the latest phase of murals additions are Yuly Catalina Bayona Pineda and Adjua Nsoroma from Milwaukee, and Stephon Freeman of Stevens Point.
A fourth new mural for 2020 was added earlier this year, when nationally-acclaimed African American artist DETOUR, a.k.a. Thomas Evans of Denver, painted a portrait of Milwaukee musician Lex Allen in the alley.

As an outdoor art gallery, Black Cat Alley now contains 21 murals by 24 artists from Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Columbus, and Berlin, Germany.

© Photo

Lee Matz