Milwaukee Public Library
Press Release

Artists Chosen for Milwaukee Public Library East Branch Public Art Project

Local Artists Awarded Two Commissions for Internal Public Art Works

By - Oct 9th, 2013 03:23 pm

The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL), Milwaukee Public Library Foundation (Foundation), Milwaukee Arts Board, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the City of Milwaukee announce the commission award for two public art installations at the new East Branch of the Milwaukee Public Library.  The commissions will go to two local artists Santiago Cucullu and kathryn e. martin.  The two artists will be tasked with creating public art installations inside the new library.

Santiago Cucullu has been working as a practicing artist here in Milwaukee for 10 years and has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally as a solo artist and as part of a group.  He is a long-time resident of the east side, a young artist mentor with the Milwaukee Artists Resource Network and an adjunct faculty member for the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.  Cucullu’s work mine’s quotidian events for universal human themes.  He proposes a mural series using imagery culled from architectural elements found around existing Milwaukee libraries that will represent the diversity and shared experience of library patrons.  He plans to use images collected from a call to the public.  Cucullu’s proposal and submission can be found here:

kathryn e. martin is currently a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also heads up the 3D Design in their First Year program. She has exhibited extensively, in solo and group shows in the U.S.  martin’s work strives to create connections between the art and its users in their environments.  She proposes Ivy which includes ivy-like covered walls and the specific topography of the East side. martin’s proposal and submission can be found here: Find samples of martin’s work on her website

We congratulate Santiago and kathryn on their winning concepts for MPL’s newest neighborhood library, said MPL Director Paula Kiely.  Public art is an important part of developing a connection between community and library.  The goal for this project is to incorporate aspects of the surrounding neighborhood and local history within the library. We look forward to working with our two artists to create works that reflect community input and inspire discovery, learning and reading for all.

The selection committee received many outstanding designs, ideas, and concepts from talented artists throughout the region, said 3rd District Alderman Nik Kovac who is also a Library Board Trustee, a member of the public art selection committee and a member of the Milwaukee Arts Board which awarded a grant to MPL for this project.  We are excited to move this project forward and create inspiring public art in an exceptional library space for all to enjoy.

I am incredibly excited to be working on this project for the new East Branch, said Santiago Cucullu.  I’ve been a resident of the East side for several years and am honored to have been chosen.  To develop the imagery for the final design of the space, I will be asking people to share and contribute images and stories of meaningful spaces around our libraries.

I am thrilled to be selected for this project, said kathryn e. martin. The process thus far has been transparent, thoughtful and has demonstrated the library’s commitment to incorporating the community in the design landscape of the library.

Public Art Program Details
MPL sent out a Call for Artists in late June of 2013 and received 19 submissions, which were pared down to five finalists by a public art selection committee.  The finalists presented their artistic concepts to the committee at a public meeting on September 12th.   The selection committee members include: Library Director Paula Kiely, Alderman Nik Kovac, Milwaukee Public Library Foundation Board members Barbara Stein and Cecelia Gore, Deputy Library Director Joan Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Associate Professor and Director of Community Media Project Portia Cobb, East side resident and Beloit College Associate Professor of Art and Art History Mark Klassen and Hammel, Green & Abrahamson (HGA) Designer Jane Dedering.

The public art project for the East Branch is funded in part by grants received from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Milwaukee Arts Board and from the sale of the former East Library Eames furnishings.  The library has budgeted $15,000 for each of the two internal art installations and $25,000 for the external art work.

The request for qualifications and complete program description can be found here:  A Request for Qualifications will be issued later this year for the third and final art work to be installed outside the East Branch.

East Redevelopment Update
Construction of the Standard @ East Library, the development that will house the new East Branch of the Milwaukee Public Library is now underway.  A groundbreaking ceremony took place on July 30th.  The library space will be completed in the fall of 2014.  The new branch will incorporate the hallmarks of a 21st century library model technology-rich, highly flexible spacing used to create a forum for community engagement and collaborative work areas, a smaller print collection, areas for each age group and self-service technology.  The branch will be reflective of local history and culture.  A weekly blog and regular project updates can be found on

Greater Milwaukee Foundation Background
The Greater Milwaukee is a family of more than 1,100 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable cause of their choice.  Grants from these funds serve people throughout Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties and beyond.  Started in 1915, the Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the world.

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