In Arts & Entertainment

Artist Erick Ledesma, just back from delivering needed supplies to Puerto Rico, is the first artist in residence at the new Mitchell Street Library.

AWE and MPL prepping new Mitchell Street art project, name first artist

Artists Working in Education, Inc. (AWE) is partnering with Milwaukee Public Library on implementing the Gathering Art, Stories and Place project that will be housed at the Milwaukee Public Library Mitchell Street Branch.

The project, which the two organizations "envision as a unique hub for creative expression, according to a statement released today, is being funded by a $150,000 "Our Town" grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).

The library opened last fall as a replacement for the nearby Forest Home Library. It is part of a mixed-use development that also includes apartments.

"AWE is enthusiastic to tell the stories of Historic Mitchell Street through public art," said John Kowalczyk, a program director at AWE. "Our professional artists will nurture the imaginations of community members by bringing creative visual arts experiences directly to them in and around the Milwaukee Public Library Mitchell Street Branch.

"Meaningful arts programming helps youth develop new ways of seeing the world, enhanced inquisitiveness, creativity, flexibility, imagination and confidence."

AWE also announced today that Milwaukee artist Erick Ledesma will be the first artist in residence at the library as part of the project. Ledesma also served as the first artist in residence for the Cesar E. Chavez Business Improvement District.

"I'm honored to have been selected, and thrilled to continue building on our accomplishments in and out of the Milwaukee area," Ledesma said in today's release. "I believe we build trust and respect for others witnessing how they process ideas-concepts when we spend time creating things together.

"Having those types of connections, to me, is crucial for building community and dialogue. All of this can be accomplished through art."

A number of community partners will also be involved in "Gathering Art, Stories and Place" – which is seen as building upon the 2014 "Listening to Mitchell" public art project on Historic Mitchell Street – including artists Sonja Thomsen and Adam Carr and storytelling group Ex Fabula.

Additionally, AWE's mobile truck studio will visit the Mitchell Street Library branch on the last Saturday of every month from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

"Historic Mitchell Street encompasses some of the most dynamic blocks in our city, and is also home to our newest and most technologically advanced branch library," said Milwaukee Public Library Director Paula Kiely.

"We have made a commitment to foster creativity in our new library environment and Gathering Art, Stories and Place will do that while also celebrating the energy and diversity of the residents, employers and visitors to Historic Mitchell Street. We are so proud to partner with AWE and ExFabula to showcase and celebrate the richness of our talent right here at home."

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