Two Milwaukee artists and one Stevens Point artist will paint murals this month in Milwaukee’s premier street art destination, Black Cat Alley. 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.
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 LLC. Black Cat Alley is free and open to the public 24/7, year-round, and is visited by over 10,000 people every year. It is located between Kenilworth and Ivanhoe, 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 artist fees and materials for these 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, is 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.
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 muralists are set to begin soon after the Labor Day weekend. Visitors to Black Cat Alley who wish to see mural-making in progress are 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,” says Wallpapered City founder Stacey Williams-Ng, referring to the well-known September event organized by Historic Milwaukee, Inc, which draws thousands of new visitors to Milwaukee destinations every year. “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.” This year’s Doors Open event will be mostly virtual, although outdoor destinations such as Black Cat Alley will still be accessible during the event, which takes place this year between Sept 26 – Oct 11.
Williams-Ng adds, “We are so proud to be giving jobs to artists, and to be showcasing the talents of local artists in such an iconic space.”
The artists chosen for murals are:
A fourth new mural for 2020 was added earlier this year, when nationally-acclaimed African American artist DETOUR (iamdetour.com), AKA Thomas Evans of Denver Colorado, painted a portrait of Milwaukee musician Lex Allen in the alley.
The Black Cat Alley is an outdoor art gallery located in a private alley on the East Side. This unique street art destination was developed by a group of community members and artists back in 2015-2016 in partnership with Wallpapered City LLC, and sponsored by the East Side BID. It now contains 21 murals by 24 artists from Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Columbus and even Berlin.