The Madison Plan Commission passed a proposal Monday to allow graffiti art on the east-facing wall of Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St.
Although the Madison business community has identified graffiti as one of its worst troubles, and Ald. Tim Bruer, District 14, has proposed a “Graffiti Stoppers” hotline with cash rewards, graffiti artists will be allowed to display their creativity on Williamson St.
“The Plan Commission passed [the proposal] without debate,” Ald. Judy Olson, District 6, said. “We’re just waiting for the next image.”
Olson, along with Mother Fool’s owners and a group from the Marquette neighborhood, attended the meeting Monday. Many letters in support of the project were received as well.
Currently, an image of the Statue of Liberty with an American flag waving behind it, painted by 28-year-old self-identified graffiti artist Don Wettach, adorns the west-facing wall of Mother Fool’s.
Marquette neighborhood residents have unanimously shown positive response to the mural, which was put up in late September in order to measure support for the project.
Wettach said the wall of Mother Fool’s is a great place for him and other graffiti artists to start displaying their artwork.
“This gives graffiti artists a place to do [their artwork] so they don’t have to do it illegally,” he said. “I hope to take it a lot farther than this; I would do [graffiti art] everywhere if I could.”
Stephanie Rearick, co-owner of Mother Fool’s, said the artwork will greatly add to the Williamson St. neighborhood.
“Madison has a reputation of being culturally sterile and culturally elite,” she said. “There has been development pressure on the neighborhood, and these type of things will help develop character.”
Olson said conditions do exist in the artist’s application adopted by the Plan Commission in that any artwork put on the wall must avoid profanity, nudity, violence or commercial messages. However, images will not need pre-approval from the city, the neighborhood association or the owners of Mother Fool’s.
Rearick said she does not expect any problems.
“I feel that if you treat people with respect, they act respectfully,” she said. “We’ve provided them with a space; [the artists] are happy about that, and they will be respectful.”
Rearick also said the coffee shop has used the west-facing wall for chalk murals in the past and there has never been a problem.
“We are giving these artists an appropriate setting to exhibit [their art] without fear of prosecution,” she said.
Anyone can apply for a slot on the wall, but the details have not yet been defined. Wettach, who knows many other graffiti artists in Madison, will be in charge of initiating the signup.
“There’s a bunch of us,” Wettach said. “And there seems to be good backing.”
Each piece will stay up for two or three months, after which the next person on the list will paint over it.