East Side’s Art Lot Will Beautify, Increase Public Space

East Side’s Art Lot Will Beautify, Increase Public Space

You can read the full article from Urban Milwaukee here

With street festivals, concerts and fairs canceled or postponed this summer, lots of us have been finding new ways to spend time outdoors and admire the new street popping up all over the city. And with restaurants struggling to make ends meet, takeout has become an essential service for most businesses.

In response, the East Side Business Improvement District has a project aimed at stimulating the East Side’s restaurants and small businesses, and inviting people to experience new work from local artists.

It’s called the East Side Art Lot. And it will breathe new life into the underutilized city-owned parking lot at 1915 E. North Ave., between Von Trier and Beans and Barley — a lot with a lease that’s currently under negotiations. The BID is going to pay local artists to paint 10 picnic tables, transforming the space, with hopes that it will be a place for people to bring their takeout from local restaurants, avoiding over-crowded patios.

“We know increased outdoor seating is a key to helping restaurants, an already low-margin business, get through this pandemic,” stated East Side BID Executive Director Liz Brodek in a press release. “The East Side Art Lot will bring together our local community, local artists and local restaurants and shops that make the East Side so special.”

To raise money, the BID wrote a grant to AARP’s Small Dollar Big Impact fund — a grant focused on fueling short-term, low-cost projects aimed at impacting communities. They were awarded $1,000, which covered the cost of the ten picnic tables. However, the East Side BID would also like to pay the artists for their work as well as cover the costs of their supplies and implement a garbage pick-up and sanitation service, so it created a GoFundMe with a $6,500 goal. If the crowdfunding campaign exceeds its goal, the extra money will be used for plants, more local art and programming for the lot.

The East Side BID is currently running an open call to artists interested in contributing their work. Ten artists will be chosen — one per picnic table (artist collective are allowed, but will only be given one table.) The BID is asking that artists submit a short bio, examples of past work and renderings of their proposed design. The deadline for submissions is August 6 at 12 p.m. The winning artists will be selected the following day, and will be compensated $500 for their completed work. Signage will be posted at the entrance of the lot with information on the artists’ that contributed as well as a list of sponsors and a reminder to socially distance and wear a mask.

“I’m so lucky to have my business be a part of a business district that really cares about supporting all of us through this pandemic,” stated Steph Davies, owner of The Waxwing, in a press release. “It has been inspiring to see The East Side BID come up with innovative ways to drive traffic, support our customers and remind people that even though our business models are changing practically daily, we’re still here!”

The Art Lot will be open from August 21 to November 15. For more information, visit theeastside.org/happenings/east-side-art-lot.html.

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