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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 39.0° F  Fair
The Daily
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Bayview: Tour of a Neighborhood
A glimpse of the community's multicultural riches
Nancy Giffey
Nancy Giffey
Credit:David Medaris

In conjunction with this week's You Are Here column in Isthmus, Nancy Giffey -- the resident artist at the Bayview Community Center and director of its Artsbridge program -- agreed to guide a short video tour of the neighborhood to showcase artistic contributions toward residents' quality of life.

Bayview is the focus for "Portrait of a Neighborhood," a photographic exhibit on view through the end of January at the UW-Madison's Multicultural Student Center. Instigated by Bayview residents who sought to introduce their neighborhood to the rest of Madison, it features photographs by JoAnna Been.

In this first clip, Giffey begins the tour by explaining the contents of a mural she painted as a representation of Bayview, with a central panorama bordered by iconographic elements that highlight the neighborhood's attributes.

Giffey turns her attention to a second wall-sized exhibit showcasing works of art by neighborhood children in this second leg along our tour of Bayview's multicultural riches. The pride of place on display suggests a precocious sense of being stakeholders in the diverse community to which they belong.

Continuing her tour of the Bayview neighborhood's multicultural riches, Giffey explains a sequence of four artworks that encompass a compelling narrative about the refugee experiences of the community's Hmong residents. Beginning with a traditional Hmong pangdau, or story quilt, the succeeding works relate the story of their long journey to the United States, Madison and Bayview. Giffey interprets the nuances of their epic in this third clip from our tour.

Giffey pauses during our tour to discuss a photographic display of scenes from Bayview's annual Triangle Ethnic Festival, which she describes as the neighborhood's celebratory open house. Bounded by West Washington Avenue, Regent and Park streets, the one-square-mile triangle remains all but unknown to many of Madison's other residents despite its proximity to the heart of the city.

As Giffey notes in the fourth leg of our tour, she has even met people who confuse Madison's Bayview with a Milwaukee neighborhood of similar name.

Four years ago, Bayview residents invited the Ho-Chunk artist Harry Whitehorse to execute a neighborhood sculpture from the remains of an Osage orange tree. The resulting work is now a centerpiece for the Bayview community. In this fifth clip from our video tour of Bayview, Giffey explains the genesis and symbolism of the Whitehorse masterpiece -- and of a quilt on display nearby.

On a bleak and breezy afternoon, Giffey steps outside the confines of the Bayview Community Center to present a short summary of neighborhood demographics. Discussing the number of families and the range of other residents living at Bayview, she explains how Artsbridge and the community center's educational and recreational programs contribute to the quality of life for people living at Bayview in this sixth clip from our video tour of Bayview.

Giffey proceeds across the grounds of the Bayview triangle to the site of a mosaic installation created by children who live in the neighborhood. Pausing to discuss its genesis and significance, Giffey explains how it serves both an esthetic and functional purpose in this seventh stage of her guided tour of Bayview's multicultural treasures.

Giffey leads us to the final stop on our video tour of Bayview's artistic intiatives, at a second outdoor mosaic installation on neighborhood grounds. Since its dedication last year, the site has become a focal point for music performances and other neighborhood gatherings, as Giffey explains in the final clip of the tour.

The "Portrait of a Neighborhood" photo exhibit runs through the end of January.

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