MILWAUKEE — Birds, butterflies, drums and so much more – these are just a few of the subjects of Crigh Chapman’s creations, all on display on Villard Avenue in Milwaukee.
It’s part of the Vibes on Villard Project.
“I’m a lifetime artist, and have been drawing since I was a child,” says Crigh. “I started painting in my early 20s and art is what I do.”
Crigh lives in the neighborhood and says it’s one of the best in the city.
“It shows a lot of promise, just the way it looks and the way it’s set up. If we would get some of these empty buildings, some businesses in them – and more art. Not just mine, but other people’s art,” Crigh says. “It would just look like a thriving neighborhood. The community would really appreciate it.”
Creating that vibrant, bustling space here between Teutonia and Sherman is Angelique Sharpe’s biggest goal. She’s the director of the Villard Avenue Business Improvement District, and asked Crigh to display his art after seeing it in passing.
“There were years of disinvestment that happened,” Angelique says of the Villard Avenue area. “But we’re thriving again and it’s just a really great place, just a walkable corridor and I’m excited to do my part to revitalize it.”
Crigh and Angelique got a little help in the form of a grant from AARP Wisconsin. Amber Miller says that $1,000 check can have a big impact.
“What are some innovative out-of-the-box ideas that can activate a neighborhood, to start bringing people together,” Miller says. “We thought artwork was probably one of the best ways to get people together in the neighborhood.”
Angelique says plenty of other area businesses have chipped in, too.
“The whole point of that is to be collaborative, so we want everyone to have a hand in supporting it,” she says.
Hopefully, plenty of people come down to see the artwork. Crigh hopes it sparks something for others.
“I would just like to inspire the ‘mes’ of the world,” he says. “Specifically the children who are born artists and see life differently and want to put their beauty out in the world and probably just figured out, ‘hey, I can do this because I saw that.’”
If you’d like to see more of Crigh’s work, his paintings will be hung along Villard Avenue indefinitely. He’s also a resident artist at Coffee Makes You Black.