More than 600 people create street art on State Street in Madison

MADISON, Wis. – Using a stencil, Sara Howe painted the outlines for several large yellow circles on State Street in Madison on Sunday.

She was part of a nearly daylong effort to transform the cement streets into a canvas for art.

What you need to know

  • More than 600 people have signed up to help paint street art on State Street
  • It’s part of a larger change planned for the 400- to 600-block area
  • From the beginning of May, there will be largely no car traffic in these blocks

“This is just part of the mural,” Howe said. “We’re going to have little icons in the middle, and then a big flamingo mural in the middle.”

The flamingo is the official bird of the city.

Howe joined more than 600 people who signed up with the city to paint a section of State Street. It is part of a broader experiment in this area.

“It feels really good to know that I helped a part of State Street and that I can walk by it every day on my way to class,” Howe said. “The painting, closing down State Street and having something for everyone to look at is really cool.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

The experiment – ​​as the city calls it – will take place in a new pedestrian mall between the 400 and 600 blocks of State Street. This summer the road will be closed to car traffic for a large part of the afternoon and evening.

Jaymes Langrehr of the city’s Planning, Community and Economic Development Department said this street art is phase one.

“We have the larger murals that we are working on with a group of local artists. Some volunteers will help the artists paint these larger murals,” he said. ‘The smaller circles, those become stencil spots.’

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

The transition to largely pedestrian traffic in these blocks is expected to start in early May.

“In addition to these street paintings, we will also have many works of art installed. Banks. Planters. Sculptures,” Langrehr said. “A whole summer of activities are then planned here to really make this a destination.”

For people like Mary Kok, it’s a way to give back to the community they call home. She came out with her husband and two children.

“State Street is a big part of our city, so it’s worth it to come down and see how we could be a small part of something bigger,” Kok said.

Yellow, green, pink, blue and mauve are all part of a palette that gives this part of an iconic street a different look.

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

Howe said the effort is also about bringing the community together.

“I just think it’s really cool to be part of something. State Street is super big. Everyone knows what it is,” she said. “To be able to walk by here every day to class and know that I helped paint part of State Street is really cool and it will be here for years to come.”