Creational Trails

The Greater Milwaukee Committee

Funding Received: 2013
Milwaukee, WI
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 8, 2014

By Maggie Bryde

Creational Trails is creating a network of improvised spaces to activate spaces as a means of encouraging acceptance and growth of the cultural diversity in Milwaukee. The two locations include the artery, a two-thirds of a mile former rail corridor connecting the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, and a 10-block stretch on West Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. Both locations will host several public events, public calls and commissioned placemaking activities with a focus on arts and culture throughout 2014.

The Avenue Update
The NEWaukee team is in full production mode for The Avenue Trail in Milwaukee. Thanks to the help of CG Schmidt and GRAEF, the two Tournavation artist winners (Paul Bestul and Ayla Boyle) have completed their final designs and are in the midst of fabrication.

The Moiré Pavilion designed by Bestul will be prototyped and installed in the vacant lot along the center of Milwaukee’s downtown thoroughfare at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. This site has become the central focus for the WAM DC, a community development corporation over the past year. Seen as an opportunity for catalytic change in this central neighborhood, the installation of the pavilion and subsequent programming has prompted the development corporation to explore a series of potential long-term investments throughout the coming months. NEWaukee’s community partner, the Creative Alliance Milwaukee, has begun a community input process to imagine the possibilities of the site and the future role of downtown for urban residents.

The Dream Catcher designed by Boyle will be installed between the Federal Building and the Boston Lofts at 3rd Street and Wisconsin Avenue, acting as a physical gateway to the pavilion just west of this installation.

The major challenges with both projects have been in sourcing the labor for construction. The size and scale of each is beyond what either artist can fabricate on their own, meaning we are relying heavily on the expertise of CG Schmidt and GRAEF to strategize how we will construct both works. The silver lining with the scale issue we’ve run into is that both works will result in dramatic (and undeniable) statements on the avenue.

The biggest insight learned in the recent months has been around fabrication. As with most construction projects, the fabrication is always the trickiest to time. Remaining patient, persistent and flexible with our fabrication partners has been key to delivering the quality work on the original timeline we proposed.

The programming plan for The Avenue has shifted focus as well to a concept called The Night Market. With the primary focus of challenging the notion of the safety of being downtown at night – the Night Market is a family-friendly collision of food, art, tech, maker and performance displays that will gather within the pavilion this summer and fall. Additional installations and programmatic elements for the series of Night Markets include local artists who made it to the final rounds of the Tournavation: John Riepenhoff, James Carlson, Daniel Flemming, AYZHA Fine Arts Gallery, Sarah Luther, the MMXII Team and Evelyn Patricia Terry. The first Night Market will occur on July 16th and the programming will continue one Wednesday each month until October.

Recent Wins
o New degrees of collaboration have been established with local organization, Creative Alliance Milwaukee (CAM) that will help to “take the pulse” on how the community feels about 4th & Wisconsin through CAM’s 4MKE project
o The project has increased community awareness through recent press coverage, found here and here.

The artery Update
The artery, also known as the Beerline Trail is in full swing in Milwaukee’s Harambee community. The physical manifestation of its relationships has set the table for a process known as sp/ace. Sp/ace, a term originally coined in an architectural thesis by Paul Hajian of MIT in the early 80’s, is defined as “working with the qualities we find in the places we love - those essences which make space place.”

beintween is a huge proponent of sp/ace as a string of invisible moments that provide opportunities to engage in intangible ways with one another through landscape. Much of the onsite activity currently under construction is not to make art, but to demonstrate how space can become a host. Not to give answers, but to create a platform for such dialogue. The artery, now lush with native summer vegetation and its shipping containers is beginning to connect people to its capacity.

ICAN 2 LABS at the artery ICAN 2 LABS at the artery[/caption]

After completing ICAN 2 LABS, an open learning environment for local youth, beintween is well underway in co-producing a summer performance series with Dasha Kelly at the artery. The adoption and enervation of this sp/ace, once a forlorn railroad surrounded by outdated industrial monoliths, has entertained and continues to benefit from a broad set of interests, from curious neighborhood youth to public and private support, local block clubs, faith based organizations, and even the local police district.

Some of the project’s recent challenges have centered on navigating complicated political processes. There has been a delay in the city purchase of the land using federal grant dollars, which meant the bike trail has not been constructed at the artery, an aspect of the project we thought would have begun by now. This delay also meant we had to switch our negotiations for the right of access agreement with a private property owner, while still preparing for the land to ultimately become city property. Another challenge has been the added layer of working with the city as they complete the environmental reporting and community input processes of the land in order to still move forward with the purchase.

Recent Wins
• Because of the delay in trail constructions, we were able to collaborate with the city to come up with a plan to still give the feel of a trail through landscaping which will help to highlight the performance stages
• Overall, we’ve been much more involved in the community input process at the site; co-hosting input meetings with the trail’s advisory council and the city. Because of this, we have widened the reach of our dialogue to the community stakeholders.

There are many opportunities to influence the community input process through the collaboration with the city. With positive and collaborative partnerships, we can better explore different on-site techniques for gathering input in relation to the installations and performances. We are continually reminded of the importance of making the process inclusive with the city and work to educate one another of the work we can accomplish through these placemaking efforts.