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Riverwest Artists’ Association

by Mark Lawson

Many of the recent articles in the Currents have focused in one way or the other on aspects of change, not only in Riverwest but in the larger world community. Gentrification, the break down of families, urban planning, crime — these are just a few of the many topics we report on that fall under the general category of the changing nature of the world around us. One of the great strengths of humanity’s capacity for creativity is the ability to use this talent to stimulate positive change or to transform negative change into something not quite so bad. Creativity is not the sole property of artists and poets, but is blessedly shared by the majority of the human race in varying degrees. There are a couple of good examples of this transformative power of creativity coming up over the next few months. As reported in my October column, the Riverwest Artists Association has recently become “homeless” due to the organization’s move from its gallery location on Holton and Center. Undaunted by this adversity, the venerable neighborhood arts group is planning two “exhibitions” which capitalize on its current gypsy status. “Santa-windo-rama” is the first ever organized effort to bring Christmas decorations to Center Street. With a limited budget and time frame, this first effort is focusing on the many storefront windows which line the street from Holton to Humboldt. Business owners are volunteering their window spaces for artists to fashion a quirky salute to our culture’s major holiday. Still in the early stages of organizing as of this writing, there are currently eight business committed to the project. “Santa-windo-rama” opens on Saturday, December 7, at noon. The other exhibition planned by the Riverwest Artists Association is the “P.O. Box Show.” This exhibition is a tongue in cheek celebration of its new address, an official United States Postal Service Post Box which is 14.5 long, 11 wide, and 5.5 high. This mini RAA “gallery” is currently accepting work from its 150 or so members that can’t be larger than 2x 2 for two dimensional work or 2x 2x 2 for three dimensional work. The exhibition opens at the main US Post Office on St. Paul Street on January 18 from 11 a.m. to noon. Currently RAA is in negotiations with the post office for the show to tour other post offices in the Milwaukee area. The little gallery will also make its rounds to other Milwaukee galleries, eventually finding exhibit venues in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and perhaps Berlin. For further information call 374-4722. Another outbreak of group creativity has been provoked by an incentive that is the brainchild of the Department of City Development’s (DCD) Brian Reilly. Since September, a series of public brainstorming meetings have been occurring to move forward an inspired project entitled “Milwaukee Makes Place.” Essentially, this is the beginning of an effort to reinvent and redefine our image of the city we live in. Initially the project has been defined in this question from it’s facilitators: “How can we shape an initiative to use Milwaukee’s histories to create its future in the heart of the city?” This will be actualized by seeking the broadest, most inclusive community input possible, then expressing this “identity” through innovative and integrated public art projects and other similar public forms of communication. This is a very open-ended incentive, with the end result more of a concept than a product at this point. If you are interested in participating in some way, check out the web site at www.mkedcd.org/valley/place/. Watch for more information on this project coming from DCD in the near future. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 11 – December 2002
by Mark Lawson