What does our working proposal look like?

Listening To Mitchell a public art installation of photographs and sound on Historic Mitchell Street

Project by Adam Carr and Sonja Thomsen

Collaborative team Thomsen&Carr are proposing a public art project for Historic Mitchell Street, including audio installation, text, and photographic murals, to be installed in Spring of 2014. Centering around a vibrant commercial corridor with many layers, Listening to Mitchell will play visually and textually, with the vocabulary of advertising to reveal a rich local history through images and oral narratives.

There is no other place in Milwaukee like Mitchell Street. The corridor has remained one of our city’s most vibrant and diverse pedestrian streets, filled with stories of grand commercial success and waves of new immigrants. As stakeholders focus on revitalizing Historic Mitchell Street as a destination, Listening to Mitchell will highlight the street’s culture. The ever shifting blend of new and old, neglect and promise, obscurity and legacy is the inspiration/need for Listening to Mitchell.

Milwaukeeans are siloed in their paths through the city. Listening to Mitchell will activate a wide range of audiences to explore the street as a treasure hunt. Mitchell Street regulars and novices alike will travel a map made up of memento and memory, excavating new understanding. On a street famous for commerce, Listening to Mitchell invites its audience to challenge place and object as vessels of meaning, spurring personal experiences in an otherwise impersonal space.Thomsen and Carr are also interested in establishing a new model for public art practices and cultural engagement in the Greater Milwaukee area.

Engaging with and culling from rich community histories, the artists speak to their investment in narrative and place while maintaining discourse with contemporary art practices. Both here, mothers are and Listening to Mitchell engage in a critical dialogue about the role of public art in the city of Milwaukee.

The project’s installation will span locations along the length of the Historic Mitchell district (5th to 12th Street). As Mitchell has a unique pedestrian life and architectural heritage, the installation will encourage an audience from both inside and outside the neighborhood to further consider the thoroughfare as a whole by vehicle, and linger longer in specific locations by foot. A map provided upon completion of the project will guide the public in their exploration of the details of the installation.

Product shots of mementos large and small will carry personal narratives of immigrants, business owners, educators, families, artists, officials, and other personalities discovered through the interview process. These images, located throughout the corridor, will act as a springboard into cell phone accessible audio, allowing the audience to delve deeper into these stories.

Listening to Mitchell has begun with preliminary interviews and location scouting in early 2013. The community dialogue process has begun and will take place throughout 2013, with art production following in early 2014. The installation will be completed by May 2014, running through September 2014.

The collaborative team will pursue opportunities to repurpose the prints from installation, locating permanent homes with businesses and organizations along Mitchell Street and the surrounding area. Thomsen and Carr are planning a budget of $49,450 and will be implementing their fund raising plan through the fall of 2013. In kind donations of services and materials will also support this project…


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