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Milwaukee artist David Mark Zimmerman, who goes by the artist name Bigshot Robot, outlines the items in his mural while working on the read corner of 215 W. Milwaukee St. in downtown Janesville in September 2020. A private group is commissioning four more murals downtown this fall and is seeking mural pitches from artists around the U.S.

JANESVILLE

Painted murals on the walls of Janesville’s downtown are good. More murals would be even better.

That’s the sentiment of a private group that wants to add murals to four more walls in the city’s downtown this fall.

Art Infusion, a group that has already orchestrated half a dozen hand-painted murals on the walls of privately owned buildings downtown over the last two years, is canvassing for artists who would paint the new murals downtown in September.

The murals would add more color to the brick buildings, and they’ll come as new companions to murals painted in 2019 and 2020, including a giant Black Hawk wall mural on a South Main Street building, and a diversity and women’s history mural on a North Main Street building—both created by New York spray-paint artist Jeff Henriquez.

According to a news release, Art Infusion has $15,250 in privately donated stipends lined up to commission the works.

Last year, a few Milwaukee artists and a pair of Janesville artists created four other distinct murals downtown. The painters transformed walls with a whimsical, stylized blue dog, origami birds, carousel horses and an impressionistic wall of waves meant to symbolize a city and its people moving forward.

Nigella Ryan, one of the lead coordinators of the mural program, said this year Art Infusion is looking for artists from all over the U.S. to tackle the new murals.

“We’ve thrown the whole thing open to anybody within the continental United States. We’ll see what we get,” Ryan said.

They will be painted during the week of Sept. 4-12. Anyone who wants to submit a mural pitch to Art Infusion can do so by visiting the Art Infusion event page on the Janesville Convention & Visitors Bureau website and registering by June 20.

Earlier this year, Art Infusion sought bids for spaces that could fit four more murals. The group announced Monday it has chosen these four spaces for the new murals:

  • Rock River Charter School, 31 W. Milwaukee St. An 8-foot-high, 100-foot-long stretch along the ground level of the brick building’s west side on South River Street would serve as the canvas for a mural. It would be one of the largest-scale spaces so far commissioned for a downtown mural. The Art Infusion committee envisions the spot as a west entryway to the city’s downtown riverfront area.
  • The Forward Janesville building, 14 S. Jackson St. Artists would paint a mural on a 20-foot-by-12-foot upper section of the building’s northeast side. The mural would be visible to anyone heading south on Jackson Street or driving west along West Milwaukee Street.
  • The Olde Towne Mall, 20 S. Main St. Anyone painting this space would need a lift, because it will be a 216 square-foot square of wall on the building’s third floor. The mural would be painted on the Olde Towne Mall’s west side, along the riverfront overlooking the ARISE Town Square along South Water Street.
  • The Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St. There’s no telling what it might inspire, but a painter will have a peripheral view of the Rock River to the west as they create a mural on a lower portion near a side entry on JPAC’s northwest end.

Past murals, including Henriquez’s imposing, three-story-tall rendering of Sauk tribe band leader Black Hawk, have become popular photo spectacles for people visiting downtown Janesville.

Ryan, who commissioned that mural, said the group’s ongoing mural program, part of the week-long Art Infusion event downtown, is still fully supported by private donations.

A sign-up coordinated through the Janesville Convention & Visitors Bureau explains that the Art Infusion jury that judges mural pitches will give preference to “positive, empowering images” or concepts that outline local history or the surrounding natural setting of Janesville.

Ryan said, like other murals, the locations picked fall under contract by the buildings’ owners. Those owners don’t have to agree to maintain the murals for unlimited years, but they do agree under contract not to alter or paint over the murals for a set number of years.

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