OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Volunteers in Oshkosh are using art to give part of the city's downtown a makeover.
On the corner of Parkway Avenue and N. Main Street is a 19th century-era building that recently got a colorful facelift.
"Anyone who comes from the north travels right through here, and this is their first impression of our main downtown area," said Alexa Naudziunas
with ArtsOshkosh, an organization that emphasizes simple, urban revitalization.
Naudziunas spearheaded the Storefront Activation Project, an effort to brighten the northern gateway to downtown.
"I don’t live far from here and I have always seen this storefront. Before, it looked kind of unkept. There was chipping paint, there was some trash in the window, old blinds going down," Naudziunas said. "So I decided to think of a way to help and I thought, how about I add some art, and paint it and just clean it up a bit.”
Naudziunas said she then contacted the property owner, who was on board with the idea.
The vibrant art display includes handmade boards with a rainbow color pattern and large white letters that spell out 'Oshkosh.' Naudziunas and other volunteers also scraped, primed and painted the lower exterior of the building.
“A couple times a week after work we would come here through winter into spring," Naudziunas said. "It was a lot of hot glue."
ArtsOshkosh had a social media fundraiser to help cover costs for the project. Naudziunas said they raised about $300 with help from community members.
The Downtown Oshkosh Business Improvement District allotted funding for a brand new awning under its Beautification Grant Program.
“It’s exciting to be talking about this project, because this is just one of the many things that makes downtown so awesome and inviting for the community and visitors," said Jessica Meidl, downtown Oshkosh BID manager.
With a handful of buildings downtown that need a little extra TLC, Meidl said this revitalization is having a ripple effect downtown.
“People see this happening, and we actually have another artist lined up for a property that’s a couple storefronts down and they’re going to do an art installation in there as well," Meidl said.
Naudziunas and her friends spent months transforming the space, donating time to add a pop of color downtown.
"If we show that we have pride in our community, other people will treat it with respect and also talk about it in a positive way. Maybe they'll tell their friends about it. So one good thing keeps going," Naudziunas said.
In the near future, Naudziunas said she hopes to do similar projects to continue beautifying downtown.