Do you like Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood? Do you like art? Do you like eating and/or hanging out in once-underused parking lots that now feature colorful picnic tables painted by local artists? If you answered YES to all of these questions (and we know that you did), then you’ll love the new East Side Art Lot, a new public space coming to the oft-empty, city-owned parking lot at 1915 E. North Avenue, right between Von Trier and Beans & Barley. Fun!

“We know increased outdoor seating is a key to helping restaurants, an already low-margin business, get through this pandemic. And customers feel safer in open-air environments,” says East Side BID Executive Director Liz Brodek in a press release. “This lot is in great proximity to over a dozen restaurants, so is really accessible for anyone looking for a spot to eat. As we talked with area business owners, the idea really grew. Businesses stepped forward wanting to do light programming if we could make this happen. We also saw an opportunity to pay local artists to help make the space feel more vibrant. The East Side Art Lot will bring together our local community, local artists, and local restaurants and shops that make the East Side so special.”

A $1,000 AARP Small Dollar Big Impact grant is being used to buy 10 picnic tables for the space. In order to decorate those picnic tables, the East Side has launched a $6,500 GoFundMe campaign. Five thousand of that $6,500 will be used to pay local artists; $700 will be used for garbage collection and sanitization; $650 will be used to buy locally sourced art supplies; and $150 will be used for signage. “If additional funds are raised,” notes the GoFundMe, “they will go to further beautify the East Side Art Lot with plants, more local art around the tables, and programming.”

A call for artists is open NOW, and will remain open through August 6.

Also, remember when the Y-Not III / Nick’s House was behind that lot? Weird.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.