As promised in last month's blog, now until the end of the year, I will be enjoying new experiences here in West Allis Downtown and sharing those experiences with you!
For my first Rediscover West Allis Downtown blog, I decided to take in some public art that was recently installed on Greenfield Avenue, our Art Bench Trail.
HISTORY OF THE WEST ALLIS DOWNTOWN ART BENCH TRAIL
Now the Art Bench Project was taken on by our Design Committee as a way to at vibrancy and color to the downtown while supporting local artists. With help from the City of West Allis and other community businesses, we were able to make this idea a reality! To go above and beyond (as we tend to do here in West Allis Downtown), our committee added the extra challenge of having an original poem written that would be on the benches. But where do we find the poet?? Luckily, my good friend and Milwaukee Poet Keith Gaustad was up for the task, and wrote "You Are Going Somewhere".
Each of the nine benches had one line, which meant we had nine artists interpreting the poem! It was a huge task, but the artists had a great time.
POETRY ON THE PLAZA
On May 5th, 2019, the day finally arrived to unveil the West Allis Downtown Art Bench Trail! The artists, poet, family and friends all gathered in Centennial Plaza for a poetry reading and a discussion with the artists about their bench and their artwork. I enjoyed hearing everyone talk about their inspiration and why they picked the design they did. There is so much beneath the surface that a casual on looker might not notice, but to the artist, it's everything! Everyone's interpretation of the poem was positive, and it made me feel hopeful to hear all the great things they had to say about the direction our city is taking and how anxious the artists are to continue this project throughout the city!
It's been a few weeks since our park benches have been painted, but it's still a great feeling to be stopped by family, friends, and business owners and have them tell us how much they love the benches. Everyone has different artistic tastes, but the benches have created a conversation through West Allis Downtown and throughout the city. Being a part of the West Allis Downtown Art Bench Project was a truly rewarding experience and it's astonishing to see how much a few painted benches can really give an area an identity. I do hope that other community groups take this project on in different areas of West Allis, because I have nine artists itching to paint some more benches!