Blog #8: Street Art/Protest Art/Public Art

Blog #8: “Street Art/Protest Art/Public Art” Posting a few photos of murals on boarded up storefronts on State Street. I’ve added artist info on each photo as credit should be given and so you can consider supporting them.
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Many of the pieces are part of city project coordinated by Karin Wolf of Madison Arts, who is working with the Central Business Improvement District. “Designed to give working artists a commission, showcase their work and provide funding during the COVID-19 crisis,” the program provides a $250 commission to artists for each mural they create. (Wisconsin State Journal, June 8)
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The public art gallery runs the length of State Street. Some businesses are tagged with words, others have fully painted plywood canvases, and some others have signs from the city project that say “Please reserve this space.”
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From artist Daniella Echeverría, who is part of the city mural project: “People need to sit with the discomfort of these boarded-up windows and how their silence helps perpetuate white supremacy,” says Echeverría, who found herself having mixed emotions about the project. “It was really frustrating people walking by and saying, ‘Oh, thanks for turning this into something really positive!’” she says. “It’s hard to feel like what you’re doing isn’t just painting over this problem and not actually involving all communities.” (Tone Madison, June 8)
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If you get a chance to visit, please take time to sit with each image rather than blindly snapping photos for Instagram. Go with a friend so you can discuss the work in this outdoor “gallery.” Read the message, and see how it is expressed, in each piece. Do share the images but do so in a way that amplifies the artists – make sure to credit their work, to include Instagram handles and websites for organizations.
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Reflect on how much of the “street art” now featured as officially sanctioned public art would be illegal in other contexts. Rather than talk of preserving it in photos, helping artists sell pieces, and selecting panels for the Wisconsin Historical Society, the conversations would be centered on how to “clean up” and cover up the work. In recent years both Madison Arts and Dane Arts have supported public art projects that provide paid work (commissions) for artists and valuable real estate/surfaces to create on (utility boxes, alley doors, walls). A step in the right direction, yes, but what more could schools and communities do to embrace and support a more inclusive vision of “what is art”? To encourage the intersection of artistic expression, critical thought, and complex conversations?
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SOURCES:
The Isthmus, “The Plywood Canvas,” features professional photos and artist credits for the murals which are part of the city project. (June 6, 2020)

Wisconsin State Journal, “Art brings messages of solidarity, protest, and large swaths of color to State Street” (June 8, 2020)
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Tone Madison, “Layers of art, plywood, and privilege accrue on State Street” (June 8, 2020)
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Artist Daniella Echeverría’s Op-Ed, “I did not paint a mural on State Street to make white people feel better,” was published in the Wisconsin State Journal on June 12, 2020.

Learn more about the Madison Arts Commission
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Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA) is a public art program that trains local artists to become community artists who use mural-making to beautify neighborhoods and make a difference in the lives of youth. DAMA empowers artists, neighborhoods and youth to become change agents, collaborating on projects which physically and socially improve communities.

The Capital Times, “On eighth night of Capitol protests, painting on State Street helps artits of color heal” (June 7, 2020)

 

 

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Artist: @soulwaterskeleton @_BIZOE

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Artist: @iampeeld https://www.iampeeld.com/

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Artist/s: @OHYASTUDIO @EMILYBLUESTAR https://www.ohyastudio.com/

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Instagram: @Janlin_art