MILWAUKEE, WI – A large colorful floral bouquet constructed of metal and plastic suddenly sprouted out of the upper corner of the boarded-up 31st Street Mini-Mart at 31st and Burnham streets.
The bouquet is one of four public art installations collectively called “Typeface.” Created by Milwaukee artist Reginald Baylor and storyteller Adam Carr, the four art works in different city neighborhoods are rooted in community conversation. All are located on abandoned or foreclosed properties.
Each of the installations was crafted around the neighborhoods’ history, identity, and personality, Carr explained. Another consideration was the ways in which the abandoned sites relate to the surrounding “built environment,” he added.
“When you to see a big empty space or when you see a foreclosed building, what does that say about the surroundings?” he asked.
In Burnham Park, Carr interviewed 100 residents over a period of a year. To engage them in conversation, he posed the simple and intentionally open-ended question, “Why here?”
“Responses to that prompt are collected in ‘An Arrangement,’ a bouquet as vibrant as the community’s cast of characters,” according to the Typeface Web site.
Spending time in the neighborhood, talking with people on the street, playing soccer in the park and observing what he described as “the extreme density of life there,” Carr’s conversations with residents took many directions. They expressed apathy, triumph, sorrow, boredom, death and life, he said. The core of each interview is posted in a gallery on the Web site.
Baylor incorporated fragments of the interviews by printing words and phrases in different typefaces on the flowers in the bouquet: “explore;” “I want;” “It’s the same as the Dells but no water;” “Now we are old;” “People: In, Out, In, Out, In Out.”
“Adam said he thought the community was a bouquet of people — different varieties, different sizes, shapes, colors,” Baylor explained.
Three other neighborhood projects by artist Reginald Baylor and storyteller Adam Carr
Milwaukee — our city — faces a profound challenge without an easy answer. We have an abundance of foreclosed, vacant, and underused spaces. TypeFace, a public art project in four Milwaukee neighborhoods has tapped the expression of communities invested around frustrated/silent spaces to create dynamic art installations.
TypeFace began this summer, with community conversations tailored to the unique character of each site and surrounding community. Themes and excerpts from these conversations fed an artistic production process, culminating in installations for each neighborhood.
Participating sites include the location where the Main Event once stood in Harambee, the courtyard defined by Franklin Square and Teutonia Gardens in Lindsay Heights, the old Finney Library in Sherman Park, and the former corner store on 31st & Burnham in the Burnham Park neighborhood.
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