‘A perfect place’ for Midwest mural

Selection of Port to showcase mosaic made of tiles painted by people from throughout the region, including local students and residents, kicks off city’s community art initiative

THE MURAL FEATURING a tree in bright autumn colors that will be installed in downtown Port Washington next month is currently being compiled by Mural Mosaic with 1,500 “tiles” painted by people from throughout the United States.
Ozaukee Press staff

Downtown Port Washington is about to become a little more colorful.

That’s because the city will become home to a multi-colored mural created with tiles painted by people from throughout North America.

And when that mural is unveiled on the north facade of the Twisted Willow restaurant building on April 6, it will mark the kickoff of a three-year program to bring more than 10 murals to the city, Kristina Tadeo, executive director of Port Main Street Inc., said.

That project will encompass not just the downtown but the entire city, Tadeo said, and be a joint project between Main Street and the City of Port that’s intended to “add vibrancy to our harbor city through art.”

But first there will be the installation of the Midwest mural, which was announced recently by officials from Mural Mosaic’s Global Roots project.

In making the announcement, Mural Mosaic Project Director Tracy Oliver said Port is “the perfect place for this mural. Port Washington is a beautiful community and it’s going right on Main Street on a big, beautiful building.”

Mural Mosaic’s Global Roots project is a Canadian effort to help communities reconnect, particularly after the pandemic left so many people feeling adrift.

The group said in a press release, “This visual legacy mural reflects the beauty and power of collaboration and shows us that when we come together we can create a remarkable lasting artistic reminder of our shared experience.”

Tadeo said she heard about Mural Mosaic while looking for a community art project to be part of Main Street’s annual Art Walk.

“This was a community art project on steroids,” Tadeo said. “I was intrigued. It’s a really fun project. There’s something about how big the project is that makes it really special to me.”

Mural Mosaic is creating murals for each region of the United States. The Midwest mural represents 11 states, including Wisconsin.

The Midwest mural, which features a large tree with fall foliage in a bucolic setting, has a “wholesome feeling .... a nice farmy feeling,” key artist Lewis Lavoie said when the location was announced. “I love this mural. It’s going to really add a punch of color in the community. This is going to grace the building beautifully.”

The mural is made up of roughly 1,500 tiles.

Main Street bought 150 of the tile kits — the tiles are actually 6-by-6-inch canvasses —and sold them at the Art Walk and at last summer’s farmers markets. They were also part of some of Main Street’s Third Thursday events, and students at Thomas Jefferson Middle School received some to paint as well, courtesy of the Friends of Port Washington Parks and Recreation.

Each kit came with paint, brushes and an easel. People could paint whatever they wanted on the tiles, but they had to use the color scheme provided.

That’s because once the tiles were completed, people were asked to send a photo of their canvas to Mural Mosaic. The actual tile remained with the artist.

At Mural Mosaic, the tiles are compiled into a 10-by-20-foot mosaic and then printed on three aluminum panels that will ultimately be mounted on a wall.

As the mural is being compiled, people can go to the Mural Mosaic website and see the image being assembled, Tadeo noted.

Tadeo said that as she was working on getting the tiles, she asked where the Midwest mural would be located. When she heard the organization hadn’t picked a spot yet, she said, “I pitched Port Washington.”

“I was totally thinking this was a long shot; it would go someplace big like Chicago,” Tadeo said. “Eleven states are part of the Midwest region, and they could have picked anywhere in those 11 states. It’s a big thing that they picked little Port Washington for this.”

An announcement where the mural was to be located was expected in fall, but it didn’t happen until recently.

While the decision was pending, a number of people called Mural Mosaic asking about the location. A number of those calls came from Port, Tadeo said.

“There was a lot of community excitement and support for this,” she said.

Main Street had suggested several sites for the mural, but had to meet the requirements of Mural Mosaic.

“They did not want this on a south-facing wall” because of fading, Tadeo said, and they didn’t want it on an east-facing wall because of the potential for water damage given the proximity to the lake.

The north wall of the Twisted Willow building fit the bill, though, she said. The mural will be installed underneath an existing faded logo.

“They want it close enough to the ground that people can pose with it for pictures and look for their own tiles,” Tadeo said.

And that, Tadeo said, will draw tourists to the city.

“There are people who get excited and buy tiles from every region across the U.S. and will go to see them once they’re up,” she said.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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