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Milwaukee Public Market Mural Unveiled
Water Street artwork features the work of MIAD students

Photos by Abby Kass

A new mural created by four local artists was unveiled today in the Third Ward.

Located on Water Street to the north of the Milwaukee Public Market, the mural is a collaborative effort by Ayla Boyle, Conner Brown, John Kowalczyk and Tyrone Randle -- all current or former students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD).

The four artists, whose styles range from sculpture to mixed-media art, worked together to create a cohesive mural focused on a surreal landscape.

A barrier was placed north of the market to shield pedestrians from the I-794 construction project. People walking to and from the market pass the white plywood barrier. The mural will be on display until December, when the construction on the area of the freeway will be complete.

“When we started talking about the construction, they were just going to put up a chain link fence,” says David Ware, facility manager at Milwaukee Public Market. “But we thought, ‘Why not put up plywood and paint it?’”

Artist and MIAD graduate Ayla Boyle

Milwaukee Public Market wanted to involve the neighborhood on the project, and reached out to MIAD, approaching Boyle in May after she gave a speech at “Creative Fusion – Made by MIAD.”

“[The mural] showcases the school and helps put work in front of people that come to the market,” says Paul Schwartz, operation and communications manager at Milwaukee Public Market.  “It’s a way to have some construction beautification.”

After discussing their ideas for the mural with representatives from the market, the artists then had their design approved by the Historic Third Ward Association, and began painting on Friday, July 11. The process started with painting the background and then adding layers on top, including string and printed pictures of patterns, forming mountains.

“It’s a project to let loose and have fun with,” Brown says.

After posting pictures of the progress on Facebook, Boyle says someone commented, “I smile every time I drive or walk by.”

“That’s the kind of change we are trying to get people to see and create,” Boyle says.

Though she studied sculpture and drawing at MIAD, Boyle has always wanted to be a public artist. She has another piece that was unveiled Wednesday on West Wisconsin Avenue as part of the “Creational Trails” placemaking initiative. Next month, she will embark on a ten-day, transcontinental journey with the Millennial Trains Project.

“When I get back, I want to implement my journey to do more [public art] like this,” Boyle says. 

Even though the artists have different styles and use different mediums, Boyle wanted a group that had a similar way of using color. The artists originally planned to add building landscapes to the mural, but as they began working, their ideas evolved and they focused more on natural landscapes, including mountains.

Kowalczyk says he also enjoys public art. He did a smaller mural behind the Bay View Colectivo that featured an all-seeing eye and mythical creatures. The piece was temporary as Colectivo changes it twice a year for gallery night. 

“I’ve always been interested in public art and making ginormous pieces of art,” Kowalczyk says. “It can be lonely in a studio painting all day. Not everyone sees (your work).”

Schwartz says the mural might eventually be repurposed once the construction is finished and the barrier taken down.  

“As a public market, we have to represent the stakeholders and the interests of the people who shop at the market,” Schwartz says. “We like what the mural represents.”

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POSTED 1/12/2015