Milwaukee launches 'Paint the Pavement' Program

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The City of Milwaukee is launching a program that hopes to encourage and inspire the local art community. The "Paint the Pavement" Program welcomes residents to apply to paint on city streets.

The program aims to strengthen hometown spirit by bringing communities together through art.

Since 2018, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has allowed residents and community groups to paint artistic crosswalks through its "Decorative Crosswalk" program. One of the first projects completed was a rainbow crosswalk near Cathedral Square Park.

"Paint the Pavement" expands on the existing program by increasing the types of murals that are eligible while also making the permit process easier.

On Friday, Sept. 9, Mayor Cavalier Johnson gathered with community partners to share why the launch of this initiative is so important to the city.

“Paint the Pavement" gives Milwaukee residents the opportunity to showcase streets as a place for people to come together," said Mayor Johnson.

The program has guidelines that applicants must follow to be approved. This includes the artwork itself and the materials needed.

Artwork that displays offensive, political or religious messaging will not be allowed and the program only calls for artwork to be painted at certain crosswalks, sidewalks, residential intersections and streets and curb extensions.

The "Paint the Pavement" program does not substitute any structural improvements along the right-of-way and does not take dollars intended to repair roadways but does provide vibrancy for our city," said Jerrel Kruschke, Interim Commissioner, Dept. of Public Works.

Katie Avila Loughmiller is the co-founder of Latinas Unidas en las Artes (LUNA) and the co-artist behind a large mural on Washington Street near Walker Square Park. The project was made possible by a grant and a lot of community support.

"We had people coming out of their houses asking how can they help," she said.

Katie says the creation of the mural is an example of how art has the power to bring communities together. "Paint the Pavement" makes way for this to happen more often.

"The opportunity to have more art in our city and in our community is just really so exciting," said Loughmiller.

12th District Alderman Jose Perez says he's proud to welcome more artwork to the area.

"Show off and express through art what's going on in your neighborhood and express your values and how you feel," he said.

Mayor Johnson spoke about the importance of giving people opportunities to express themselves.

"In 2024, we'll be hosting a major political convention which will likely draw activism and other demonstrations. Our goal is not to limit the opportunities for people to express themselves but to ensure that these displays are done appropriately," he said.

Community members told CBS 58 they enjoy taking in the views of existing artwork and they're excited that future projects will bring more people into their neighborhoods to enjoy it as well.

Click here for full details on "Paint the Pavement", including the application process.

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