Art Infusion in downtown Janesville

Frank Juarez

This past weekend took us to downtown Janesville, Wisconsin, to experience Art Infusion. I have to admit I cannot remember the last time I visited or drove past this city of 63,575 people. Based on the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website, Art Infusion has been around since 2011. The growth of this community art event led to the inclusion of murals spread throughout the heart of the city in 2020. When I read about the addition of more murals, I knew I wanted to take the 2.5 hour drive from the Malibu of the Midwest (Sheboygan) to see these larger than life public works of art.

Rewind to about a month and half ago. I knew about this event through Susan Melton, Marketing Director. She emailed me a few press releases with this year’s mural artists, activities, and arts programming. Two of the artists that caught my interest were Bigshot Robot from Bay View and Emily Balsey from Madison as the collaboration with Wallpapered City. I was already familiar with Bigshot Robot’s mural work with Black Cat Alley. I started following Emily on Instagram, but have never seen her work in person.

The mural process began September 5th and were slated to be finished the weekend of September 11-12, 2021. From afar, I was able enjoy the process from Art Infusion’s Instagram handle, @artinfusionjvl. I had a great time running into old friends and meeting some of the muralists that were hanging around. I have to admit that it would have been easier to locate newer murals especially when most were completed prior to the weekend and seen from a distance. Perhaps a bright sign stating NEW MURAL or MURAL 2021. I accidentally confused some of the older murals as the new ones, but that isn’t a bad thing. This reminds me of a quote by New York photographer, Joel Meyerowitz. He said, “carrying a camera is a license to see”. New or old, it didn’t really matter. It was still new to me.

I enjoyed the day full of sun, creativity, excitement, and energy. I love seeing cities throughout Wisconsin embrace the power of art and realize that through art it can continue to build [art] community, support artists and local businesses, and to create a sense of pride. This annual art event will be on my radar for 2022.

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