July 8th 2017
11:00 AM – 3:30 PM
N Broadway and St Paul – The Milwaukee Public Market
It’s hard to ignore the call of such a clear sunny morning. It’s the perfect fuel for moving, for doing, for hunting something new, and for exploring the Third Ward. A neighborhood I keep meaning to poke around, the Third Ward is just south of the highway jungle and characterized by its orchards of pearly green streetlamps and traffic lights. And it was both prime brunch time and the last weekend of Summerfest, so I figured going out before noon wouldn’t just give me yawning empty streets of a city sleeping in. With my easel strapped snug across my hiking backpack I could even bike there.
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The streets were happily bustling in sunglasses and sandals, but it was still hard to find the right place to be. I decided to be right on the corner of St Paul and N Broadway so I could maybe catch more people waiting to cross the streets heading to the Milwaukee Public Market or open air restaurants.
It ended up being a quiet day, although I enjoyed my few takers all the more. A spiral sun was the work of three different people hours apart. Halfway through working on the tiling and I-beams of the Market, I had two young brothers go to town with bright red, blue and purple. Like last week at the fireworks, I decided to incorporate their bold splashes with my plan for the Market, weaving in the sections of the walls and choosing a few key elements to bring back to the surface: the signature rooster, steel beams, some awnings, and one of the doors. I think it really made everything come together instead of being several paintings on top of one another. Kids never hesitate to go big, and although their parents may apologize, I really do enjoy taking what they create and braiding it into the scene. What I’m after is collaborative art, after all. Ignoring and covering up is a heck of a lot less interesting.
Others added clouds, a streaky flowing sidewalk, and filled in some of the Market’s gray walls. The purple that flooded the streets earlier kept its color – I only added crosswalks, paint lines and curbs to give them a frame. The green of the sky and signature Third Ward lights really pops thanks to the red, and with the rough purple and neon sun everything has this energy that makes up for the missing traffic and crowds.
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Even with a modest number of takers and smaller size, this one might be my favorite painting of the series so far, mostly because it was a stepping stone where I really took the time to think about where this project will go from here and how each of these paintings is also a chance to try doing things in a new and different way. I’m definitely going to weave elements as often as I can instead of overhauling my plan or avoiding covering any part of someone’s contribution. I’ll try to have more of an artistic conversation with what people add, in a way. Even seven paintings in, City Self-Portrait will keep evolving, with a little help from clear sunny mornings.
Special thanks to: