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MNA & Co-op Partner to Create Community Artwork

Panmela Castro painting a mural on Willy East

Thanks to planning work by the Marquette Neighborhood Association's Art and Culture Committee, Willy Street Co-op—East will soon have a colorful mural on a large exterior wall. Panmela Castro, an internationally recognized graffiti artist, will be the Co-op's artist-in-resident July 1st through July 7th, and she will design and paint the mural. A mural dedication is planned for Friday, July 6 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Co-op courtyard.

The mural is part of the MNA Public Art Concept approved by the MNA membership last fall which includes murals on private property. The public art concept also includes the Willy Street Poetry in Sidewalks featuring Madison Poet Laureates installed this past September, the Williamson Street Gateway Sculpture designed by Erika Koivunen and the Historic Marker project currently under development.  

"When I heard about the Art & Culture Committee's interest in a wall for a mural, I contacted them," said Anya Firszt, Willy Street Co-op's General Manager. "We are always interested in supporting local arts and keeping the stores a vibrant, creative part of the community."

Committee member Sharon Kilfoy said then the pieces started coming together. "When Anya volunteered the Co-op wall," Kilfoy said, "the Committee was interested in a 'rotating' mural like the one at Mother Fool's Coffeehouse. But once Panmela Castro painted her beautiful mural at Mother Fool's, the idea of inviting her to paint a mural on the side of Willy East became a natural evolution. We were encouraged by Karin Wolf, the City of Madison Arts Commission Director, and have been pleased by the enthusiastic response from Anya and the Co-op."

Marquette Neighborhood Association President Scott Thornton said, “We are truly fortunate to have this international artist back to paint our first mural. Special thanks go to our tireless neighbors Sharon Kilfoy and Bill Scanlon for all of their dedicated work, the Willy Street Co-op for making this happen, and the city's arts coordinator Karin Wolf for her advice and support.” 

Panmela is an activist artist whose social policy work, primarily focused on gender equality, provides the core inspiration for the content of her provocative paintings. Panmela has brought many successful projects promoting women’s rights to fruition. Panmela was honored in 2010 at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards in recognition of her work advancing women's rights and in March 2012 was honored at the DVF Awards by the Diller - Von Furstenberg Family Foundation. 

Residentsof and visitors to the Marquette neighborhood may have seen Panmela's work earlier this year on the Mother Fool's permission wall. 

"When Pamnela painted our wall at Mother Fool's a crowd gathered to watch her paint," said Jon Hain, co-owner. "She worked fast and with total confidence, so focused that it seemed she hardly noticed her audience. The whole event felt magic as she turned a brick wall into a work of beautiful work of art."

He added, "I am very excited that her art will enjoy a permanent showcase at Willy Street Co-op. Our community benefits when we invite artists and activists to share their work with our neighborhood."

The MNA Arts and Culture Committee has a small group of volunteers committing many hours to projects, and is looking for more volunteers and financial support. For more information about volunteering, see, or come to a meeting; they are on the third Wednesday of each month.
If you are able to help with financial support you can donate by sending your tax-deductible donations to:

Marquette Neighborhood Association

PO Box 3223

Madison, WI 53704

or online at

detail of Panmela Castro mural

detail of Panmela Castro mural

full complete mural