Nothing like a new coat of paint to brighten up the look of most anything.
That concept was never more valid than it was Saturday when dozens of residents of the Allied Drive neighborhood on the Southwest Side came together with people from around the community to create Madison’s first official street painting.
The colorful mural, a trefoil design created by neighborhood resident and artist Marcus Nickel, was painted at the intersection of Percy Julian Way, Revival Ridge and Dunn’s Marsh Terrace. Those involved couldn’t help but step back and admire their work, which was cut short of completion by afternoon showers.
“It means a lot because it actually brought everyone together,” neighborhood resident Thelia Baker said. “It was an awesome idea and everybody deserves a pat on the back. I love it. I felt like a really big kid in a candy factory when I was painting. It was awesome.”
The project is the first of four around the city funded by a $10,000 grant from the Madison Art Commission. The other pavement murals will be done in September on the North Side and the Meadowood and Leopold/Arbor Hills neighborhoods.
U.S. Cellular provided paint brushes, rollers, food and beverages while Hallman Lindsay Paints donated 75 gallons of the brightly colored traffic paint.
“There’s something that just warms my heart about seeing all different people, all different races, all different artistic abilities being able to create something together,” said Karin Wolf, Madison’s arts program administrator. “A lot of times we commission a professional artist to do a work of art and the community is behind it, but it’s not quite the same as a participatory project like this. People love it.”
Madison muralist Sharon Kilfoy, the project manager, admitted she was a little skeptical when first approached about the idea. But after seeing the impact of similar projects in Portland, Oregon, and other cities, she quickly got on board. And she knows the enthusiasm surrounding Saturday’s activities will be long-lasting.
“Although a great piece of art is going to be left here at this intersection, the coming together of the neighborhood is perhaps twice as significant,” Kilfoy said. “There are dozens and dozens of people that when they come back and take a look at this, they’ll say, ‘I worked on that, I painted that yellow over there.’ It gives you a sense of pride in the community.”
Katy Farrens, a neighborhood resident who operates Allied Brotherhood Group for boys ages 13 to 17, saw that happen for her group. “They have a lot of trust issues, and it was hard to get them out here today,” Farrens said. “But once they got out here they really enjoyed themselves.
“They connect volunteering to having to do community service when you’re in trouble. So for them to have something enjoyable to do that’s not connected to being in trouble really builds their self-esteem and their trust. It was a very positive project for the whole community.”