Sidewalk Stories

Submitted by Anne Wallace

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Project

Client: John Michael Kohler Art Center & City of Sheboygan, WI

Location: Sheboygan, United States

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $20,000

Project Team

Artist

Anne Wallace

Public Art Agent

Amy Horst

John Michael Kohler Art Center

Overview

For public art projects with the John Michael Kohler Art Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and The City of San Antonio, Texas, I interviewed longtime and more recent residents of historic neighborhoods and stamped their stories into the newly poured sidewalks along the streets where they grew up. The stories add layers of information and meaning without creating an additional object in the right-of-way. As children on their way to school, locals and tourists walk and read, they are reconnecting the past and present of a changing city.

Goals

Inspired by historic sidewalk Makers' Marks, my goal was to work diverse oral histories into the sidewalks themselves without creating an additional sign or obstacle for pedestrians to negotiate around. A second goal was to create a moveable type system for stamping into wet concrete.

Process

In the San Antonio project, I gathered the stories and stamped them myself, with the assistance of two artist friends. The Sheboygan project was a collaboration between the City and JMKAC. Through workshops and other outreach, we built a team of people to work with diverse community organizations gathering oral histories; there was also a write-in component based at JMKAC. We also put together a community team - and had walk-in help on the day - to set type prior to stamping the stories into the sidewalks of General King Park, on Lake Michigan.