GuitarTown artists revealed; project billed as bigger, better than last year’s
By Sarah Pryor
WAUKESHA – Last year’s Gibson GuitarTown public art project put Waukesha among the ranks of some of the biggest art and music cities in the world, but organizers are billing this year’s encore event as even bigger and better than the first.
More than 100 people packed Bernie’s Tap Room & Restaurant Monday night to hear which artists were selected to design the 10-foot fiberglass and regulation playable Gibson Les Paul guitars that are the project’s hallmark.
“It’s incredible to see how much talent we have in this area,” said Lynn Gaffey, who headed the committee that selected the artists this year.
The guitars will be unveiled at a gala on June 6th, the night before the season’s first Freeman Friday Night Live.
Many of the artists are making their second foray into the project, switching from a 10-foot to a playable guitar or vice versa.
Tom Noll, who hand-painted a guitar featuring Les Paul and several known Gibson players atop a colorful splash backdrop last year, is now paring things down to create a playable guitar.
“I’m going to do a young Les Paul with a Harley-Davidson jacket,” Noll said. “It’s all about ‘what if ?’ Like what if Les Paul had been a Harley rider? How would the bike’s sound system be different?”
Pat Mitchell is going in the other direction, switching from last year’s mosaic playable guitar to this year’s 10-foot mosaic that will feature an homage to all things Wisconsin, from sports teams to the manufacturing industry and beyond.
“I’ve lived here all my life, so if there’s one thing I know, it’s Wisconsin,” said Miller, who estimated it will take eight weeks or more to get the project finished. “The idea is to make it look like a giant tourism map.”
New this year is the addition of several student teams from schools like Carroll University, Butler Middle School and more, as well as two guitars that will be created from youth teams at La Casa de Esperanza.
La Casa President and CEO Anselmo Villarreal said he was delighted to hear from Mayor Jeff Scrima, who asked the organization to partner with GuitarTown. Villarreal said the guitars will reflect Waukesha’s Latino community.
In addition to the Waukesha School District, Carroll and La Casa, GuitarTown Steering Committee President Rick Congdon said the organization is partnering with Habitat for Humanity and the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, which will receive the funds raised by the project.
GuitarTown Steering Committee Public Relations Chairman Norm Bruce said he expects the project to be even bigger and better than last year’s.
“You really haven’t seen anything yet,” he said.
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