Love Mural Brings Plan B Wall Alive

Michael Owen paints a gritty, active, energetic version of his signature piece

Michael Owen's 22nd Baltimore Love Mural adorns the east side of Plan B Nightclub.

Michael Owen’s 22nd Baltimore Love Mural adorns the east side of Plan B Nightclub.

It didn’t take long for Artist Michael Owen to transform the beige, moribund east wall of Plan B nightclub into a vibrant Madison version of his Baltimore Love Mural. It took about two and a half days to finish the work which is only the second version of the mural to have color in the background

Deep blue colors, punctuated by reds dashed on top graffiti-style, fill the street end of the wall before they are abruptly halted by an off white background. In the center the iconic black hands that spell “love” give the viewer a breath and respite.

The blue does not hide for long as it slowly grows from below after the first hand, filling each space before exploding past the “E” hand in a joyful dance of colors toward the end of the building.

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La Fête Makes Triumphant Central Park Return

Masked Ball for adults and kids joins french, cajun and blues music festival

Underground house music DJ Derrick Carter will headline the Masked Ball Saturday at  La Fete de Marquette.

Underground house music DJ Derrick Carter will headline the Masked Ball Saturday at La Fete de Marquette.

La Fête de Marquette, the French-infused neighborhood celebration of music and culture that raises money for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center is returning to a familiar but much improved place. Central Park was officially opened this year and La Fête will be the first festival to be held after long delayed plans to develop the space as a park were finally realized.

The first two festivals were held to promote the idea of Central Park and were located on the grounds of the current park. For seven years the festival has grown and matured while it dwelled at the corner of Dickinson and Main Streets. This year features a vast and inspired mix of events including one named Big Top, which suggests the return to a larger space is just in time.

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Willy Street Declares Summer of Art

Two Plan B murals and long-awaited Gateway sculpture to debut this month

A version of the Baltimore Love Mural which always features the hands in black. Courtesy: Baltimoreloveproject.com

A version of the Baltimore Love Mural which always features the hands in black. Courtesy: Baltimoreloveproject.com

Symbols of love will begin to grow on the east wall of Plan B nightclub today (July 9) as muralist Michael Owen starts painting a version of his Baltimore Love Mural. The mural features four hands, painted in black, spelling out the word “love” in sign language and is named for the effort to paint 20 walls throughout Baltimore, Maryland.

The project is coming to Madison as part of the Marquette Neighborhood Association’s (MNA) ongoing Arts Initiative which has, along with the City of Madison and other benefactors, sponsored several unique projects known as the Public Art Concept, with a goal of placing art in different forms along Williamson Street.

The initiative, which began with Poetry in Sidewalks, is nearing a crescendo as the Williamson Gateway Sculpture will likely be in place this month. Owen’s mural is the second major mural project in as many years after graffiti artist Panmela Castro’s prodigious piece The Siamese Twins  evolved on the west wall of Willy Street Co-op East over four days in July 2013.

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Garden Fresh Dining

‘Locally grown ingredients’ for some Willy eateries mean the backyard

The extensive garden in the backyard of Grampa's Pizzeria which supplies fresh ingredients for their menu.

The extensive garden in the backyard of Grampa’s Pizzeria which supplies fresh ingredients for their menu.

“Garden Fresh”, the bastardized phrase that appears on just about every menu from fast food joints to high-end restaurants. In recent years there has been a push by local groups such as Dane Buy Local and REAP Food Group and restaurants to use locally grown or produced ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meats.

Some Willy Street restauranteurs are even cutting out that step too by growing their ingredients in their own backyards. Many of the commercial buildings on the street don’t have the space to support gardens, but some places do make it work.

On a small parcel of walkway between the Third Lake Ridge shopping center building and it’s credit union drive-thru is a side door to Bahn Thai where several large pots with green vegetables are growing including a rather precocious basil plant.

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NWS Says Tornado Visited Marquette Neighborhood

Damage wrought by an EF1 twister, ‘hood seeks to repurpose downed Orton trees

This Orton Park oak, stricken by the recent tornado, may soon become a playground for neighborhood kids. Courtesy: Orton Park Natural Play Structure

This Orton Park oak, stricken by the recent tornado, may soon become a playground for neighborhood kids. Courtesy: Orton Park Natural Play Structure

It sounded like a tornado, the damage looked like a tornado and on Friday (June 20) the National Weather Service (NWS) in Milwaukee updated its assessment of the storms of June 16-17 adding the Marquette neighborhood to the list of areas touched by a tornado, rating it an EF1.

The storm impacted an area from B.B. Clarke Beach to Olbrich Park, with the heaviest along a narrow grouping of streets from the Monona lake shore to Wilson Street. The damage matched many descriptions of typical tornado damage where some structures were decimated while other objects only feet away incurred nary a scratch.

In Orton Park a few trees did not survive, including an old oak next to the middle path in the center of the park. But the tree may live on as a unique and rapid effort by neighbors has delayed removal of that tree, designating it for possible conversion into a “natural play structure” for children.

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Gallery: Marquette Waterfront Festival 2014

25th anniversary of festival ends in fine form

MWF2014eDespite a downpour Saturday evening that cut short the set by Lyrics Born, the 2014 Marquette Waterfront Festival was a thrilling success. Strong attendance both days was driven by excellent weather and deft booking by lead organizer Bob Queen who along with Nancy Kathman were honored Saturday “For bringing music to our neighborhood”.

See below for scenes from Sunday at the festival.

Marquette Waterfront Festival 2014

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Park neighbors enjoy the music from the comfort of their own home.
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The legendary bike corral goes on for several hundred feet. Numerically, it was by far the largest form of transportation to the festival.
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Mother Falcon's steel guitarist.
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Throngs of people took in seven hours of music each day. Here Mother Falcon begins their set as the final performance of the festival, Sunday June 8, 2014.
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Mother Falcon launches into their first tune.
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A Mother Falcon violin player
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One of Mother Falcon's lead vocalists.
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.Mother Falcon was founded by cellists and has three players.
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Mother Falcon hails from Austin and began when the band members were in high school.
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Sunday June 8, 2014 was a perfect day for a neighborhood festival and thousands agreed.
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Lead festival organizer Bob Queen announces that the last act of the day is still stuck in Dubuque. Queen and Nancy Kathman received an award Saturday (June 7)from the Marquette Neighborhood Association for "For Bringing the Music to our Neighborhood".
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Mother Falcon's horn section.
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A Mother Falcon violin player.
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A Mother Falcon Accordion player.
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New Orleans Suspects bassist Reggie Scanlan.
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The creative inventors at Sector67 bring by a wheeled contraption that allows transport while engaging in mirth.
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New Orleans Suspects Saxophone player Jeff Watkins
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The crowd sways to the New Orleans Suspects
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New Orleans Suspects drummer "Mean" Willie Green who also hits the skins for the Neville Brothers Band.
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CR Gruver of the New Orleans Suspects
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Thousands packed Yahara Place Park for the 25th Anniversary of the Marquette Waterfront Festival.
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We caught you texting!
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Robbie Fulks.

Marquette Waterfront Festival Celebrates 25 Years

Event begun to save elementary school, tai chi and other neighborhood treasures

Poster by: David Miller

Poster by: David Miller

The Marquette Waterfront Festival (June 7-8) is twenty five years-old this year and while not the youngest neighborhood gathering it has the special role of heralding the beginning of summer. Just a day or two following the end of the school year for area children, it is the perfect weekend celebration for families which was the original intent of the event when it began in 1990.

The festival was born during an all-out effort to prevent the possible closing of Marquette Elementary school and other potential neighborhood elitism that was starting to bubble up on the east end of the Marquette neighborhood.

While much attention seems to be focused in the Willy Street area, our neighborhood does stretch all the way to Division street, encompassing sleepy and pleasant streets between Eastwood drive and Lake Monona. It was at Yahara Place Park, a quiet strip of land where people mostly just gaze at the lake, that parent Bob Queen and others plotted their neighborhood comeback.

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Ella’s Carousel Preparing to Twirl

Landmark restaurant readies its showcase attraction for 2014 season

First tangible sign of spring? Ella's 1927 Parker Carousel is being prepared for the season.

First tangible sign of spring? Ella’s 1927 Parker Carousel is being prepared for the season.

There are many signs of spring: ground hog predictions, re-discovered yard implements from six months ago, as well as sand and grime-infused mounds of recalcitrant snow that defy solar. One additional sign noticed this week is that the process has begun to rouse the Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor carousel from hibernation.

Ella’s Deli has been a wonderland for children since they opened their East Washington Avenue location in 1976. The fanciful mechanical “animations” as they are termed on the restaurant’s website, are perfect distractions when dining with young children.

Many of these creations as well as the theme of the restaurant was inspired by a visit owners Ken and Judy Balkin made to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Ken, along with other employees and local artists, would add to the collection over the years which is like a kaleidoscope, ever changing each time one enters the restaurant.

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These Kids Are All Right

East High cultural series hopes to encourage more involvement by neighborhood

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

Jazz music wafting through a coffee shop on a Friday evening is not uncommon, nor impressive unless you were at Cargo Coffee Friday night (March 21). A spoken word performance usually garners an echoey smattering of applause, and maybe a spirited “Woo!” from a patron, but not this night.

It could have been their ages, but more likely it was the polished, inspired, and passionate performances of Madison East High Students that brought enthusiastic applause from supporters and customers during a fundraiser to help make healthy snacks available to students at East.

Hungry students is not just an East high problem but is leading some to raise a larger question: Are Near East Side neighborhoods too detached from East High students? Friday’s event at Cargo Coffee shows there is much young talent to appreciate and support.

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East Students to Fight Hunger With Jazz & Spoken Word

Event to raise money for healthy snacks for EHS students

FrontView_H650A unique event will be held this Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Cargo Coffee on East Washington Avenue to help Madison East High Students struggling with hunger to have better access to healthy snacks. East students will present “An Evening of Jazz and Spoken Word” to raise money for a healthy snack program for students.

Marquette Neighborhood Association Board Member Lynn Lee who also is co-owner of Cargo Coffee says there is little in the way of healthy options for students at East and many, due to their economic situation, come to school without breakfast.

“MNA and Cargo [Coffee] are going to hold a series of fundraisers to donate money to help stock these snack supplies.  Besides the Peat-Piper Scholarship, MNA has been looking for other ways to have a positive impact on our neighborhood schools.”

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