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First 100 Days

A Hot Weekend of Joyful Abundance

by David Lee on Jul 22, 2019

This weekend, we joined Amani United, The Dominican Center, and other community partners to co-host the annual Summer Sprays mural event, which brings together a group of graffiti artists to create inspired, gritty, and beautiful murals.

As the years progressed, the number of business owners who wanted their walls transformed grew and this year, artists from New York and Chicago joined artists in Milwaukee to transform seven different walls throughout our city. 

It was not lost on us that while Summer Sprays provided engagement and programming for the greater Amani neighborhood and its surrounding area, at the same time the NoMAD project was putting the finishing touches on their incredible murals in Wauwatosa. And it was the finale of Ballet Beat at St. Ann’s. And it was Dance Fest, featuring the dancers from Ailey II. All of this in the incredible heat and humidity last weekend (and I’m sure we’re missing others). 

Talk about a joyful abundance of arts in our city this last weekend! 

During this transition, the one recurring question that I’ve been asked is why, after a decade of fighting hunger, did I choose to leave the food world to come to the arts and culture world. 

And my answer is simple. Food and art are the two things that make us fundamentally human. They are both basic needs that we make and create to feed and nourish ourselves. 

It should be no surprise that throughout history, anyplace that people could grow, share, and sell food while singing a song, doing a dance, or painting a picture, great civilizations were developed.  

And so, it should be no surprise that our sponsorship element for Summer Sprays was that we provided free tacos for the artists and the neighborhood at our headquarters wall at 29th and Fond du Lac. 

At first, the neighborhood eyed our taco truck suspiciously because as one neighbor noted, “nothing is free.” The fact that the truck was parked across Fond du Lac didn’t help either. 

The upshot of this however was that it was parked next to the home of a gregarious neighbor who took it upon himself to help us promote the food and event and before too long, the lines got long and tacos were flying out of the truck. 

Big thanks to Antoine Carter, our neighborhood liaison, who made this partnership happen. I think this is a great example of how our neighborhood partnerships program pilot funded by Northwestern Mutual is surfacing great community-led art projects.

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