East Side Art Lot Returns for Summer
East Side BID will pay 10 local artists to paint picnic tables for a unique public space.
Frank Zappa was once quoted as saying, “Art is making something out nothing, and selling it.”
The East Side BID’s Elizabeth Brodek must have had a similar thought pop into her head last year as she fixated upon the often-vacant parking lot located between Von Trier and Beans & Barley on North Ave. With the pandemic in full swing, Brodek suddenly had the idea to transform that lonely parking lot at 1915 E. North Ave. into the East Side Art Lot, a public hang-out space featuring picnic tables painted by local artists. With the help of ten local artists and some generous sponsors, she made it happen, and the inaugural Art Lot ran from August 21st to November 15th.
“It is the best project I’ve ever worked on in my professional career,” says Brodek. “This is just a new innovative project that brought even more art to the district. We kind of answered a lot of questions that we didn’t even know we or the community was asking.”
The BID is once again calling for 10 local artists to leave their marks on picnic tables. Artists will be granted a $500 commission for the completed piece, and paint, sealant, brushes, tarps, water and sunscreen will be provided on site. This time around, each picnic table will have an artist tag listing the name of the artist, their social media handles or websites and a scannable QR code containing Art Lot specials offered by nearby businesses. There is no submission fee, and the deadline for submissions is May 12th by 11:59 p.m.
“It’s awesome to see how this is exploding and taking on a life of its own,” Brodek says.
As for programming, the Milwaukee Maker’s Market, a monthly art, craft and maker fair and winner of Shepherd Express’ 2020 “Best Art & Craft Fair/Makers Market” award, will return every second and fourth weekend from June through September. On the first and third weekends, a yoga series will be held, putting an emphasis on the Art Lot’s 2021 theme of different forms of creative expression. There will even be some live music — sort of. Local acts will perform at the lot, and guests will listen via headsets, similar to the “silent raves” that have become popular in recent years.
“I heavily believe in the importance of localism, and I think the East Side is such a perfect microcosm of that in Milwaukee,” says. Brodek.
The current anticipated opening date for the East Side Art Lot is Friday, June 11. For more information on artist submissions, sponsoring a picnic table or donating, visit the BID’s Art Lot webpage.