A public art project at the intersection of Fond du Lac Avenue and Locust Street is adding color to a faded neighborhood with a rich history.
Milwaukee’s award-winning artist Reginald Baylor designed “A Common Denominator,” a contemporary street painting designed to make the neighborhood more interesting and attractive. Using eight colors of milk paint and stacks of stencils, Baylor and 40 volunteers painted the street beneath the railroad overpass.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Baylor donated his design, featuring a colorful train pulling a blue and silver padlock, a red bell pepper, dollar sign, light bulb and other objects representing community values. Baylor is also one of the artists participating in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s “Wisconsin 30” show, opening June 14.
“I drove up and down Fond du Lac as I was looking for concepts and it started with Master Lock up the street, which represents safety,” Baylor said. “And I kept finding things that are common in any community that people wish to have, such as food, rest, energy and security.”
IN:SITE, an arts organization focused on temporary public art, collaborated with the Department of Public Works and local organizations to sponsor the “Art on Fond du Lac” initiative, part of a larger 20-block temporary public art project from 17th to 37th street, scheduled to open June 29.
“We’ve received a ton of support from city leaders, local artists and residents, especially young people,” said Pegi Christiansen, IN:SITE chair and site manager. “Art becomes approachable in public designs like this.” Christiansen added that the milk paint will naturally dissipate before winter.
Using funds from the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative channeled through Johnsons Park and Sherman Park, NDIC contributed $20,000 to the project, matching $20,000 raised by IN:SITE.
“Pubic art like this brings vitality and hope to our community,” said Vanessa L. Llanas, community outreach liaison for NIDC. “This installation highlights a lot of the assets that this area holds.”
Mayor Tom Barrett, who visited volunteers as they painted, added, “It brings warmth to the neighborhood and adds a sense of place. It’s a wonderful, fun representation and any time Reginald Baylor is involved, you know it will turn out well.”