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TypeFace Unveiled
The anticipated community art project launches Nov. 2.

Photo by Angelique Powers of the Joyce Foundation.

Why here? It seems like a straightforward question, but have you ever thought about how you define a space, and why you chose to occupy it?

TypeFace, an ambitious public art project by artist Reginald Baylor and Adam Carr, hopes to provide a broader understanding of the diversity in four of Milwaukee’s urban neighborhoods through the creation of bold visuals based on community-generated narratives. ART Milwaukee is providing project management support and fundraising savvy to turn foreclosed and abandoned sites into works of art. “It’s basically taking a negative icon in a highly-visible part of a distinctive and historic neighborhood and turning it into a positive one,” says Angela Damiani of ART Milwaukee.

The project began earlier this year by simply asking residents in each community “Why here?” Carr spent time in each neighborhood this summer focusing on themes of investment, ownership and possibility. “He basically did a lot of standing on the street corner and talking to people. And if you know Adam, that’s the perfect job for him,” Damiani says.

Roughly 400 conversations later, a narrative emerged, tailored to the unique character of each site and surrounding community and eventually fed Baylor’s artistic process. These narratives will unfold on boarded-up architectural icons sites in four neighborhoods spanning the city: Layton Boulevard West, Sherman Park, Lindsey Heights and Harambee.  Baylor’s pop-art paintings have pervaded the city, but this is the first time he has worked with typeface and 3-D sculpture.

“It’s about self-actualization and harnessing the rich imagination of residents engaged and invested in some of Milwaukee’s oldest, most distinct and most culturally rich neighborhoods,” Carr says.

See the faces of each neighborhood that provided the narratives in the slideshow below:

Created with flickr slideshow.

The four sites and installations are:

1. Burnham Park, the vacant 31st Street Corner Store (3028 W. Burnham St.)

An Arrangement: a bouquet of flowers and answers as colorful as the neighborhood's cast of characters.

2. Lindsay Heights, Franklin Square/Teutonia Gardens (1420 W. Center St.) 

Bookshed: a bookshelf fully stocked with real conversations.

3. Harambee, Five Points (3418 N. Martin Luther King Dr.)

Puzzled & Amazed: a platform for history, memory, and questions from and for the community.

4. Sherman/Washington Park, the old Finney Library (4243 W. North Ave.)

Panel Discussion: a mural showing snippets of stories from community's youth, adults and elders.

“People like to make sweeping generalizations about neighborhoods, but you’ll see when laid out side by side, there really is a distinct flavor to each,” Damiani says.

ART Milwaukee received a $50,000 grant from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation and supporting funds from Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Zilber Family Foundation, the Helen Bader Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation to develop and implement the TypeFace projecy.

There will be a public presentation next Saturday, November 2 at 10 a.m. at Shiloh Tabernacle (3418 N. Martin Luther King Dr.) and the four works will be unveiled throughout the month of November.

There will also be a digital component to the project at typefacemke.com coming soon. Larger plans for community involvement include sending information about the project to residents in each neighborhood and encouraging them to visit the sites in the other neighborhoods.

For more information about the process of the project, see the video below:

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