Update: MANDI committee site visit

For 20 years AWE has been in communities bringing arts and creative expression to Milwaukee-area youth. We’ve served nearly 60,000 young people in various neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee. None of that would have been possible without the generous support of our public, community and youth-serving partner agencies.

This year, we’ve been selected as a 2018 MANDI Award finalist for the BMO Harris Cornerstone Award. We were delighted to host members of the MANDIs selection committee to hear about our programs and impact in Milwaukee. Ian Bautista, executive director of Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative said, “I have AWE on speed-dial. They have been a reliable partner over the years to us at the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative. They’ve demonstrated expertise in creating gathering spaces like the Health Equity Mural on Cesar Chavez Drive and the Drift Bench at Mitchell Park. AWE not only invests in creative culture of neighborhoods but also in providing opportunities for young artists to develop their talents, and those efforts are a testament to AWE truly being a cornerstone in Milwaukee.

Neighborhood youth bring “Seasons of Joy” to Sherman Park

“Seasons of Joy” is a vibrant mural created by 3rd and 4th graders form St. Catherine School, Lead Artist Tia Richardson and Assistant Artist Jordan King. The students depicted what they love about each season. The mural beautifies a city owned property almost a block long in the Sherman Park neighborhood. Community members from St. Catherine Church helped paint alongside the youth as well.

Amari, 3rd grade from St. Catherine, said, “ My favorite part of this project was getting the chance to do something I didn’t know how to do.” Jazmine, a 3rd grade student from St. Catherine, said her favorite part of the project was doing a portrait of herself for the mural.

The students wrote and recited the following poem at the mural dedication:

The Joyful Seasons
by St. Catherine’s Cougar Camp

The Joyful Seasons, it’s time to shine!
We want you to make people happy
Let people be kind

Spread sweetness, spread joy
This is what we are thankful for
Seasons of Joy

We are thankful for:
Having a big job like this to paint
Drawing and painting
My Home and Family
Everyone else who helped paint

Winter Spring, Summer and Fall
These are the Seasons and we love them all!

This project was funded by the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services.

“Seasons of Joy” is located across the street from another community mural, “Sherman Park Rising,” also led by artist Tia Richardson (mural pictured below). The mural, completed about a year after the uprisings in Sherman, depicts images of community and a shared hope. Residents and community members participated in community painting days. Read about the mural dedication here.

“Sherman Park Uprising” (Photo by Lydia Slattery)

Deeper Meanings: 2017 AWE Holiday Ornament

Seasons Greetings from AWE! There has never been a better time to spread cheer and creativity. We’ve partnered with a local artist to create a product to help you create memories with friends and family on your list. Read the inspiring story about the project, and the creative people behind them.  Continue Reading

In Memory of Joan Michaels Paque

Joan Michaels Paque via historicimages.com

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Joan Michaels Paque. Joan, an internationally known mixed-media artist, teacher and author had been an active supporter, donor, and Honorary Board member for AWE. Joan’s various contributions has allowed AWE to provide quality arts programming for nearly twenty years.

Art from Joan Michaels Paque. http://www.joanmichaels.paque.com/

She will be sadly missed by family, friends, colleagues and members of the arts community. Read more about her legacy here.

AWE expands program staff: Welcome, Tatiana Diaz!

Raised on the Southside of Milwaukee, Tatiana Diaz, returned to Milwaukee to be closer to family. In May of this year, Diaz earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in New York. We welcome her to our staff as a Youth Arts Specialist.

Tatiana Diaz at a special Truck Studio event at Kern Park with the Milwaukee Bucks. Tatiana lead youth in creating Bucks action figures made out of aluminium foil and tape.

Her position is another form of growth AWE has experienced in the last year and half, adding more capacity with marketing/fundraising staff and now adding Tatiana to gain support for the Truck Studio and Artist-in-Residence programs. Tatiana will also be responsible for volunteer management and recruitment.

Tatiana is excited to be back in Milwaukee and give back to the community. “I want to be more connected to the art scene in Milwaukee, and give back to those who helped me get through college, and inspire, even. “I love working with kids who are a part of my community. I like that I get to be their exposure to art,” she said.

When she’s not out leading a Truck Studio program or assisting with the Artist-in-Residence program, Tatiana can be found hanging out with family and friends, drawing, watching movies and cheering the loudest at Bucks games, or playing basketball herself.

An image illustrated by Tatiana, showing off her hometown pride for the hometown NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Tatiana attended Milwaukee Public Schools, and says she didn’t know much about art or that it could be a career, but once she was introduced to it, “it’s been such an enriching part of my life,” she said.

Prior to joining the staff at AWE, Diaz worked as a part-time graphic designer and a freelance illustrator.


Artists Led Professional Development Day: Artistic Board Up

Artists Led Professional Development Day

Professional mural artist Fred Kaems, teamed up with AWE and other community artists to learn more about large-scale public art projects. The group then completed a mural on a blighted property on 35th and State Street – in 6 hours

 Near West Side Partners asked AWE if they could find artists to construct a mural on a city-owned blighted property on the heavily-trafficked corner of West 35th and State Streets. AWE agreed, but wanted to do more than a mural. “We wanted to have a larger impact in the larger arts community in Milwaukee but we had a two-week start to finish timeline to work with,” said Beth Haskovec, AWE executive director who was a part of the initial NWSP meeting.

Haskovec took the idea back to AWE Art

ist-In-Residence program director, John Kowalczyk, who is also a well-known and respected community artist. John contacted his friend, and fellow artist Fred Kaems to see if he’d be interested in leading an artist-to-artist professional development day which w

ould culminate in a public art mural. Fred was on board immediately and plans went into action. AWE spread the word on Facebook, and soon enough more than 10 community artists signed up to participate! During the day-long workshop, artists learned the ins-and-outs of working with community partners like AWE, NWSP and navigating city government, BIDs, and responding to RFPs by organizations. The building, located at 964 N. 35th is currently owned by the city of Milwaukee, but up for sale, all involved are hoping the mural attracts buyers to see the potential inside.

building before professional development day

Giving Thanks on Giving Tuesday: COA Holton Youth Center Memorial Garden

Giving Thanks on Giving Tuesday: Artists Working in Education Responds to the Needs of Community

Youth Transform Tragedy into Beauty

Teens from COA Holton Youth Center and Professional Artists from Artists in Working in Education created a memorial sculpture garden to honor the 125 gun-homicide victims in 2016.

Through AWE’s 5×3 projects, we position ourselves with community partners and professional artists to engage youth in projects and programming that matter to them. We are thankful for the Racial Equity & Inclusion Grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation that led to the creating of more public art in five target neighborhoods (Lindsay Heights, Harambee, Clarke Square, Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods, and Washington Park) over the course of three years. The program is entering into its third year.

Earlier this year, youth from COA Holton Youth Center partnered with Artists Working in Education’s 5×3 Artist-in-Residence program to create a temporary memorial sculpture garden to honor the 125 gun-homicide victims from 2016. For several months, Artist Facilitator and Assistant Program Coordinator, Katie Loughmiller worked with young people on the projects. “Each site was different, but in the first few weeks at Holton, it was clear that gun violence had affected the youth – many lost family members or friends to gun violence. We knew early on that we wanted to make a piece to create awareness about gun violence in the city.”

Local artist Anwar Floyd-Pruitt was hired on to the project after the youth decided what their project would focus on. “We did research on the different types of memorials that are created when someone dies. The candles, teddy bears, flowers and beer bottles left near the site of the incident are a concern of neighbors, because all of that turns into litter – which already has an adverse effect on the community and the neighborhood. We wanted to have a better impact on the neighborhood, so the idea of flowers was born.”

“There’s a lot of diversity in wildlife and in plant life, and the youth reflected that in how they painted the flowers. Ultimately, we were able to connect with the youth and have them use art as a means of communication,” Floyd-Pruitt said.

These projects help youth build an understanding of strategies to cope with trauma and how they can have an impact in the city. Be on the look-out for more 5×3 coming to a neighborhood near you.

AWE named as a Community Partner at MOD GEN

Artists Working in Education, Inc, (AWE) and MOD GEN, a modern general store in the Third Ward announces their new community partnership. Both AWE and MOD GEN are long-time staples in the Milwaukee arts community. The partnership began on October 1 and runs through the end of the year. With these two organizations, specifically, the partnership demonstrates how artists can support other artists in creative ways that have a lasting impact on the wider community.

Continue Reading

Accountant Moves Office to the Heart of Bronzeville


AWE is committed to investing in neighborhoods where our programs take place. We’re excited for the growth of our accountant, Megan McCray, who recently moved her business to the Bronzeville neighborhood. She started the accounting firm, McCray Accounting Services in 2014. McCray has over 14 years of experience in the accounting industry. She hopes the new location will allow the accounting firm to be more accessible and proactive in the community and strengthen partnerships.


“There is a tremendous amount of development and resources being put into MLK Drive. The Bucks arena being so close, and the new Main Street designation are promising for the area. I hope to become even more actively involved with the King Dr. BID, P3 Development and the African American Chamber [of Commerce] in helping small businesses be profitable and sustainable,” said McCray.

McCray Accounting got settled into their new space in the middle of August. Megan is already loving the convenience of work being so close to her house. The wife and mother of a daughter, 11, and a son, 5 is pregnant with a second son due in early November.

Specializing in small business bookkeeping, accounting, taxes and everything in between including payroll, vendor bill pay and customer invoicing, McCray has a range of nonprofit clients such as Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, Spectrum Arts MKE, Stillwater Collective and Operation Dream.

“I have a passion for helping small businesses be successful and understand the meaning and importance of their numbers and how that directly correlates with the success of a business, McCray said.” McCray also stressed the importance of helping other small businesses operate. “Many people that start businesses might not realize all that goes into it. I hope to bridge that gap, educate and empower owners to have a healthy business that will last.”

Artists Working in Education has been a client of McCray’s since 2016. McCray especially loves that connection for her children because her daughter has love for art and drawing, her son loves various craft projects.  Beth Haskovec, executive director of AWE said, “Megan and her team at McCray Accounting Services are responsible, flexible and easy to work with. We are proud to be supporting small businesses that work within our targeted neighborhood strategy.”