Beginning in May, an empty store in Silver City will be converted into a three-month temporary public art space.
The venue, which has not yet been chosen, will host events, classes, performances and food that celebrate the community’s diversity and resources from May through July. For instance, local glass artists will show their artwork; dance studio owners will organize a dance workshop; and Asian restaurants will offer traditional cuisine samples and share unique recipes. Several pieces of artwork will be selected for display at Silver City’s 2011 Asian Fest on Aug. 27.
Sarah Luther, a local artist, initiated the temporary public art project in cooperation with Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN). In January, Luther was awarded a $4,000 grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board to implement the proposal.
“Public art is a platform to support and highlight all of the differences and people living in this neighborhood,” Luther said. “I want people to use this project as a resource guide or a directory for the Silver City neighborhood.” She added that she hopes the venue will attract “not only people in this neighborhood …but those from other places in Milwaukee.”
Dan Adams, LBWN neighborhood plan coordinator, noted that many people don’t know what is available in Silver City. He hopes that the project will help change that.
Renovating an empty storefront into an active space could also generate potential business opportunities. “It’s a way to market what properties we have here, how affordable they are and what great locations they are,” said Beth Haskovec, Silver City Main Street manager at LBWN.
Silver City, bounded by 31st Street, West Greenfield Avenue, 39th and West Pierce street, is one of three neighborhoods served by LBWN. According to Haskovec, about 5,000 people live in Silver City. About 40 percent of residents are Hispanic, 35 percent are white, 10 percent Asian and 10 percent African-American. Local businesses range from Asian restaurants to financial, medical and auto services.
The project’s budget is about $8,000, including the grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board. For the next several months, Luther and Haskovec will continue working on fundraising and encouraging participation by businesses and residents.
“It’s a huge challenge to organize people and to get people together,” Luther said. “I’m excited to make connections, which are very valuable to the community.”