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October 23, 2013


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Greg Myers

I applied with an idea. This is the problem with Milwaukee art scene. 50,000 is up to create art for the city and someone who supposedly speaks for the entire art community with a following of 86 people bitch about it. Grow up, participate and start building creativity to increase more investment in the arts community instead of pushing it away because you don't agree with the marketing of something. Jesus. Just pathetic.

Mary Dally-Muenzmaier

Mercifully for all of us, Facebook does not encompass the entirety of digital communication nor that of any non-digital form, so your reference to "a following of 86 people" is way off the mark. And even if that number were accurate, it has no relation to my right of freedom of expression.

Having cleared that up, the issues raised in this post have nothing to do with the marketing of "'Creational Trails" and everything to do with the way the program was developed and the means used in applying for the ArtPlace America grant.

Okay, that's not entirely true. The marketing is bad, too.


Well said, Mary. This is the most thorough deconstruction and critique of the whole situation that I have seen to date. While I appreciate the efforts of .biz/.org/.gov groups to come together to help resuscitate economically troubled areas using, in part, public art to do so, the way in which this has rolled out is troubling. The inter-connectedness of the orgs you cited is even tighter than you imagine (or cared to print). There is a profound lack of transparency in what is ostensibly a "public" project or for the "public good." What information is let out is muddled by the bizarre language of marketing and/or straight-up misinformation. If GMC, ARTMke, et al want to recycle private money (the grant the received is, after all, private foundation based) in strange and uninformed ways, then they are certainly allowed to do so. If they did not construct this whole thing as being inclusive of the arts community and in the genuine interest of Milwaukee, I would see no reason to critique it. It would be fine enough that the esoteric and academically discredited literature of Richard Florida and his new urbanist acolytes informed their schemes. It would be innocuous enough that a group primarily interested in drinking is parroting marketing pseudo-language to grab more grants and sustain their income. It would even be ok if GMC continued to tolerate this behavior -- it's their game after all. What is not fine, innocuous, and ok is that all of this is done under questionable pretenses with the support of uninformed public and private leaders who refuse to admit that the emperor is buck-naked and that real issues like extreme racial/economic divides persist in our city. If GMC/ARTmke/Newaukee, et al want to get serious about the real challenges in our city, (and, yes, enlist the help of real artists to do so) I'd forgive this behavior and support that work. But then again, all the marketing and partying in the world won't change our city. We can market and party after the real challenges have been overcome.

Thanks again for calling out the emperor.


Della Wells

Thank you for writing this article. If it was not for you I would have not known that I was one of the artists that they claimed they got input from. For the public record, I never provided any input or had a discussion with any of these groups about the Creative Trails project.

Richard Taylor

Meaningful research, and laid out for us in a thoughtful manner. To those wielding the obfuscating words of pseudo art-speak, I refer them to Diogenes: "Affectation!"
My hope is that meaningful visual work will result from these grants, not feel-good ephemera.


Nice job Mary! Glad to see some good old fashioned journalism. Just to add to the pile, it is interesting to note that ARTmilwaukee and Newaukee aren't functioning LLCs but actually brand names used by Clever Sauce LLC. That being the case ARTmilwaukee is not a non-profit as they claim here http://www.artmilwaukee.com/initiatives.html and on their facebook page.

ArtPlace grant money was granted to the GMC before this 350,000 in their last round of funding. $500,000 went to the GMC, about 2 years ago, who created MiKE with that money. As far as I can tell exactly 0 dollars of it went to arts or artists. It makes me wonder how they got the $350,000 at all.

As for beintween, despite their board of apparently invested individuals, they still have literally no track record or experience in these areas. The swings near the walking bridge on water st was their only previous project. They aren't suited to take grant money, rather if they are paying themselves with it, they are wasting it. Although on the 'creational trails site they claim to be pro-bono. I know for a fact this is false.

Finally for the commenter Greg Meyers, your negativity toward honest investigative and critical journalism is a shame. As far as I'm concerned mindless fools that chase dollars without knowing where they came from and in the name of art are the problem with the art community. I suggest you look in the mirror, jack.


Great job on this article.

One of the frustrating things about Milwaukee from a business and an arts perspective is that we always go to the same exact people for answers. It might be unrelated, but Tim Sheehy just named his task force on on new downtown arena and the sad thing is one could have named all the participants before it was announced:

Ian Abston - Check
Gray Grunau - Check
Julia Taylor - Check

This has happened because most of the journalists in the community don't want to question anything and just go along. It's sad that the BizTimes and Business Journal are more concerned with handing people like Abston, Damiani and Fojut awards instead of asking why these people with relatively no experience are catching all these breaks. The awards and the accolades and the group think amongst this media has made these people the people who matter most in the Arts and to some extent the business community. So what if they lack experience and so what if they don't create jobs. There's money to be made in being the useful idiots of the GMC


Very good information!

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