Press Release
Press Release

IN:SITE Announces Digital Billboard Art Month

Milwaukee billboards will get a little bit more pleasing in October.

By - Aug 12th, 2013 11:25 am

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will be issuing a proclamation recognizing October 1-10 as “Digital Billboard Art Month”(DBAM).  Due to the generosity of Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar Outdoor Advertising of Milwaukee, IN:SITE, fostering temporary public art, has organized a first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation digital billboard art initiative.  

Eighteen digital billboards will create awareness of City of Milwaukee visual artists and nonprofit organizations and institutions.  All the billboards will have images from one or two artists.  In addition, there is also an identification panel with the name(s) of the artist(s) and the nonprofit that selected this art to represent it, along with the phrase “Digital Billboard Art Month.”  There will be no participant logos or website addresses. 

People on Milwaukee highways and streets will be treated to a ten-day art exhibit.  Lamar of Milwaukee Sales Manager Jay Guidinger estimates conservatively, “Over the ten days of the campaign, well over one million people will have the chance to see these pieces of art.”  IN:SITE anticipates some people will decide to look up more information about the artists and nonprofits.

Art curated by these eighteen organizations and institutions will be highlighted:

  • Alverno College
  • Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA)
  • Grand Avenue Club
  • Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University
  • Historic Milwaukee, Inc.
  • INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts), UWM Peck School of the Arts
  • Jewish Museum Milwaukee
  • Latino Arts, Inc.
  • Milwaukee Art Dealers Association (MADA)
  • Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN)
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
  • Mount Mary University
  • RedLine Milwaukee
  • VSA Wisconsin
  • Walker’s Point Center for the Arts
  • Wisconsin Visual Artists (WVA) Southeast Chapter
  • Woodland Pattern Book Center

The adult artists represented worked in a broad range of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and collage.  Some of the art references Milwaukee.  The participating nonprofits also indicate the breadth and depth of art experiences in Milwaukee. 

On Wednesday evening, October 2nd, from 6-8, INOVA, 2155 N Prospect Ave, will host a DBAM reception, cosponsored by Creative Alliance Milwaukee.  INOVA is two blocks away from a digital billboard displaying at least one of the DBAM images that night.  People can walk over to see billboard art “up close and personal.”  The theater at INOVA will be showing all the billboard images, with a presentation about the project at 6:30.  This discussion will feature Graeme Reid, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Wisconsin Art.  For Reid, the focus of DBAM on local art is critical.  “Before we champion out-of-state artists,” says Reid, “we need to recognize our own talents. If we fail to do that, we not only ignore the past, but insult our present and fail the future.”

The sites for the billboards will not be available until late September.  Clear Channel Outdoor donated twelve billboards and Lamar donated six. Paul Sara, Milwaukee Market President for Clear Channel Outdoor, says digital billboards are “the perfect medium to bring this vibrant and soulful art to the public. Clear Channel Outdoor looks forward to a successful run of DBAM and the opportunity to showcase local artists, schools, organizations, and venues.”

Pegi Christiansen, IN:SITE chair, thanks the DBAM national advisory team for assistance establishing the guidelines for this project in 2012:

  • Lisa Berman, Chair, Milwaukee County Percent for Art Committee
  • Anne Bray, Executive Director, LA Freewaves 
  • Nancy Heller, former Executive Director of the Westport Arts Center
  • Amy Mangrich, IN:SITE cofounder
  • David Morrison, Program Manager, Billboard Art Project, sponsoring art on billboards across the country since 2010.
  • Melissa Musante, Milwaukee artist
  • Karin Wolf, Friends of Blue Dress Park
  • Janet Zweig, New York-based artist whose public art projects have included both digital and temporary elements.

IN:SITE also thanks graphic designer Marly Gisser, UWM intern Scott McDowell Dobson, and MIAD intern Elise Thomm for their help.

Nationally, art on billboards, both vinyl and digital, is growing.  DBAM differs from other projects because they have either shown art without any text to identify it, or have text panels with website addresses and other information that clearly identifies them as advertising as well as art.  DBAM rests right between these two approaches.

IN:SITE is not a nonprofit, so does not have a billboard and is not mentioned in any manner on the billboards.  If successful and billboard companies agree to cooperate with a similar effort in the future, IN:SITE would pass the baton to another organization to coordinate. 

Learn more about the project at the IN:SITE website.

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