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Radio Milwaukee Brings Art to Penfield Children's Center

Off the Cuff with mural artist Stacey Williams-Ng

Aug. 22, 2017
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To give back to the community on its 10th anniversary, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee is commissioning public art for the city. Local artists will create two large murals on blank building walls in the near West Side and Walker’s Point neighborhoods. Financed by a grant from the Mary L. Nohl Fund, the project aims to spark dialogue and bring art to local neighborhoods.

Stacey Williams-Ng is one of the artists chosen for the project. Her mural, a gigantic 122-by-27-foot piece, will be completed by Sept. 10 on the north wall of Penfield Children’s Center, 833 N. 26th St. “The mural concept plays on themes of rhythm, community and cohesion,” 88Nine spokesperson Jeff Bentoff says. “It recognizes that music brings us all together and that differences disappear when we bind together as a community.”

What are your qualifications and credentials as an artist?

I’m a professional artist and the founder of Wallpapered City, which is a service that helps companies find artists for large-scale art installations like murals. I also paint regular-size paintings, and occasionally illustrate children’s books. Your readers may recognize Wallpapered City as the consulting company that led the Black Cat Alley project. More recently, we installed five new murals along KK Avenue under the project name “Street Canvas.” Those were unveiled in June, and all five of the murals were painted by women.

How did you end up taking part in Radio 88Nine’s project to bring art to the public?

88Nine held a public call for entries, inviting artists to submit concepts for their two community-themed murals. I submitted an idea for the Penfield building and won.

Why would a radio station create murals, of all things?

I don’t think of 88Nine as just a radio station. They are a non-profit organization, with a vision for building and promoting the culture of Milwaukee. If you look at it in that context, it makes perfect sense that they’d want to support the arts and reinvigorate the physical spaces of our city.

What will the mural represent? What makes it special?

Every mural is special! [laughs] The mural features a school of brightly colored fish swimming between two giant speakers. The waves behind them are inspired by sound waves. I hope that when people see it, they think about how music and art are things that bind us together as a community.

What does creating art in public spaces represent for you? What do you think it achieves?

The thing I love most about street art is that it is available to everyone. It’s not behind a closed door; there is no ticket price to enjoy it. In the last couple of years, Milwaukee has started to wake up to the value of street art in place-making...and it’s been a very exciting couple of years for artists like me. It seems like nearly every week, you hear about Mayor Barrett coming to visit a new community mural in town. It’s just fantastic.

The mural was planned to take one and a half months to create; is it possible for members of the public to watch you create it in real time?

Definitely! That’s the whole idea! And anyway, I’m trying to work faster.

How can our readers support you?

Come by and visit! Ask questions, take pictures and share the love. If you’re a building owner with a blank wall, consider calling a local artist to grace it with a mural. You won’t be sorry.

For more information, visit staceywilliamsng.com.


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