Boarded up storefronts became palettes for scores of artists seeking justice and peace
The spontaneous and temporary project transformed many storefronts.
Dozens of murals expressing rage over police brutality, demanding justice for Black victims and pleading for racial harmony appeared on plywood-covered storefronts up and down State Street and throughout downtown Madison. Business owners and the Madison Arts Commission encouraged area artists, many of whom were people of color, to express themselves. The spontaneous and temporary project transformed many storefronts — 75 of which were damaged or looted, and others that were boarded up to prevent damage by relatively few people compared to the thousands of protestors who filled downtown streets for several nights in June.
Madison’s Tony Catterucci and Lincoln Rust collaborated on a mural spanning the length of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum facing the state Capitol. The mural was bookended by images of George Floyd and Malcolm X.
Demands for recognition and respect for Black women and girls was a theme of many of the State Street murals. One such mural in the alcove entrance of Goodman’s Jewelers featured artwork tied to Lilada Gee’s website and “Defending Black Girlhood” podcast. Gee founded the Madison-based nonprofit Black Women Heal.
Gee joined Maia Pearson, Chanelle Baines and Cassy Marzette in painting murals, including one quoting the late African American poet Audre Lorde: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
A Black man is depicted in bed clutching an American flag bedspread and saying “I had a nightmare” in a mural by Valendice Payne.
Sisters Sapphina and Zaria Roller painted a girl with a raised fist the subject of one of their murals. Their mother, Emida Roller, executive director and lead artist for Dane Arts Mural Arts, and Alicia Rheal painted portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.