City, downtown BID seeks artists to decorate utility boxes

Asks for mural ideas for 10 boxes on Wisconsin Avenue

The city of Milwaukee and the Downtown Business Improvement District are hoping to spruce up Wisconsin Avenue by decorating its utility boxes.

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The Downtown Business Improvement District has issued a Request for Creativity, asking artists to submit mural ideas for one or all 10 of the boxes identified along Wisconsin Avenue.

The BID has issued a Request for Creativity, asking artists to submit mural ideas for one or all 10 of the boxes identified along Wisconsin Avenue.

The goal is to reflect the street’s rich history of commerce, diversity of architecture and people and bright future, according to the proposal, which ends March 1.

Beth Weirick, CEO of the downtown BID, said one of the property owners asked if there was anything to do about the utility boxes, which was a nudge to do the project.

“So many of our colleagues across the country are engaged in public art,” Weirick said. “It is something that we hadn’t gotten into but with so much activity going on Wisconsin Avenue from the foot to Marquette’s campus, our time is here.”

An Arts on the Avenue task force was formed and the $15,000 project is being funded by the BID, grants and donations.

Artists selected will be given $1,500 for each utility box, with the potential for more depending on philanthropic donations.

The utility boxes are located at 800 E. Wisconsin Ave., 650 N. Jackson St., across from the federal courthouse, 401 E. Wisconsin Ave., across from the Pfister Hotel,  411 E. Wisconsin Ave., 200 E. Wisconsin Ave., 770 N. Plankinton Ave. at Mo’s Irish Pub, 703 N. Second St., near the Shops of Grand Avenue, 300 W. Wisconsin Ave.700 N. 6th St. near the Convention Center and 706 N. 9th St.

The murals must fit the exact utility box measurements and will be selected by the Downtown Placemaking Task Force, which includes representatives from the city, WE Energies, Milwaukee Arts Board, West Town Association and East Town association.

The winners will be selected in late April and installation of the artwork is expected in June. ‘

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