Madison’s newest parking garage on East Wilson Street features a pop of color with the installation of two murals called “Multiplicity.”
The murals, which utilize bright colors and widescreen shapes, are Madison's first city-directed street art installations. Momentum Art Tech Owner James Gubbins said the piece is a “big milestone.”
“We all traditionally came from the graffiti art community, so to be able to work with cities now, trying to make the city look good, is a major step,” Gubbins said. “It’s really nice to see Madison finally opening up to it.”
Gubbins said that he believes graffiti art, like any art form, can bridge cultural gaps and be a positive influence across all demographics.
The murals are located on the west wall of the parking garage, which is currently under construction behind the Madison Municipal Building. The garage is a part of the major Judge Doyle Square redevelopment project and will replace the Government East parking ramp, which will eventually be demolished to make way for a hotel.
“Multiplicity” is visible from East Wilson and East Doty streets and currently can be viewed unobstructed. Eventually, large metal panels called louvers will be installed on the mural to bring in elements of light and shadow.
“The color gradients help the shapes pop off the wall and create the appearance of light when there are shadowy spaces,” Gubbins said. “The abstract vision gives everyone the opportunity to define what they see within the fluid shapes.”
Madison’s Planning Division led the mural project as a part of a new effort within the Parking Division to incorporate public art at its facilities. The city has also supported Actual Size Artwork’s exterior relief sculpture “Glimpse” and near complete “Intricate Landscapes” by Luisa Fernanda Garcia-Gomez at the South Livingston Street garage in the Capitol East district.
Working with street artists required a different approach, city project coordinator Rebecca Cnare said.
“As we have found, getting street artists for request for proposals or request for qualifications just doesn’t work,” Cnare said. “It’s not part of the culture of street art.”
The city worked with Gubbins, and his company partnered with local and regional street artists C3PO, TEEL and Saltrock to create and install the mural. Gubbins said that the goal of the piece is “open up a crevice of an urban landscape that normally wouldn't be recognized” and to “add some sort of community value.”
Madison Arts Coordinator Karin Wolf said the city mobilized the project quickly and specifically sought out street artists.
“The city doesn’t have a lot of representation of that genre of art,” Wolf said.
Unlike permission walls like at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse on Williamson Street that feature rotating murals, the parking garage installation will be more permanent. Another effort to highlight street art is the Science to Street Art program, which pairs scientists and artists to communicate science concepts through visual art.