“The inspiration for this one is the fact that we need to make changes right now in order to grow,” said Mike Lroy. “So I think communities should give a platform for their local artists of color to express their views on the state of the world right now on the ugly boards that are holding up their windows.”
Mike Lroy is a Madison artist who is spray painting murals in the downtown area. He works with another Madison artist called Triangulador. One of their paintings can be seen on the boarded-up windows of Tutto Pasta on State Street. He says the owners gave them permission to do it.
Lroy is one of several artists working on State Street today, leaving murals on the wooden boards that are being used to replace the smashed windows of shops on the street. Lroy’s mural shows a rose and a white flower next to the word “Grow” written out in large white letters. According to his co-artist Triangulador, city officials commissioned their artwork.
He says it’s a good opportunity to show how the community feels right now.
“Unfortunately, you know, with events going on, there’s damage to a lot of properties and these boards were going to be up anyway,” said Triangulador. “And they speak a lot about what people are feeling at the moment. So I think it is good for us not to ignore it and not to try to whitewash it. But still create something beautiful out of it and put in a positive measure that, hey, we’re all in this.”
His co-artist, Lroy, adds that this is a rare opportunity for voices of color to be heard.
“We are not fairly represented in the world, but especially in my the art world-we don’t have these opportunities. So I think this is the perfect first step for communities to get going in the right direction,” said Lroy.
Protests over the death of George Floyd have been ongoing for the last week in cities all across the United States. Following the conclusion of a peaceful demonstration last Saturday, a small group of agitators broke windows on State Street. More peaceful protests were followed by violent agitation on Sunday and Monday evenings.
Now, most business windows on State Street are temporarily boarded up, either because of broken glass or as a preventative measure.
Daniella Echeverria, another artist who is painting a mural, says she wants to show solidarity with protestors.
“So I have two main images: Two skulls. One has a fire and the other one is going to have plants, and in the middle it will say ‘silence is violence’,” said Echeverria.
Echeverria says when city officials approached her, she was concerned that they would try to mask the intent of the protests. She says she doesn’t want that to happen.
“I’m hoping this mural keeps some of that harshness, but whether or not I’m successful remains to be seen,” said Echeverria. “I think that white people should sit with the discomfort of having these boarded-up windows because this is what black people experience all the time.”
But the boards will come down eventually, and the windows will be put back into place, and it is not clear what will happen to the murals then. Brooklyn Dobie, an Edgewood graduate who has also been commissioned by the city, says she knows the future of her work is uncertain.
“We’re doing this knowing that it’s temporary, and that it can be taken down at any minute,” said Dobie.
The art can be seen on State Street, visible on the sides of buildings. To Triangulador, this is a chance to show how supportive the community is being of one another.
“We’re getting a chance to have voices that usually are not being heard at the moment, which I think is the most beautiful thing about this: That the community itself is rebuilding and showing that, hey, we’re all in this. As sh—y as this is, we understand what’s going on. We support you.”