Graffiti Land – Isthmus | Madison, Wisconsin

by | Nov 13, 2021 | Driving Ranges

Graffiti writers and street artists could soon practice their art in an unusual location.

After Momentum Art Tech, an art supply store specializing in high-end spray paints, sketchbooks, and markers on Cottage Grove Road, closed last January due to the pandemic and disagreement with the landlord, owner / artist Margot Atkinson went to the Find a new location for your store.

She not only wanted plenty of space for an art shop, but also a gallery, a studio, a workshop and an event room. Atkinson found it in an old schoolhouse on the corner of Hoepker Road and Portage Road, about three and a half miles north of East Towne and two miles west of Costco – in a small patch of countryside.

“It’s away from everything. We’re not going to bother anyone and it’s private property so no one is going to call the police or get upset. It gives us room to breathe, ”says Atkinson, who started as an employee at Momentum and then moved from partner to full owner. Your neighbors today are a few farms, a golf driving range and a small ranch. “It will be a destination where people can see beautiful street art in the middle of the country.” Atkinson describes the new spot as “the playground of the imagination”.

Atkinson is renaming the business the Pumpkin Hollow Art Center, after the Pumpkin Hollow School that originally occupied the space. Since 1990 it has housed Kris’ Custom Sewing.

In addition to special paints and other accessories, the art center will show a changing selection of works – paintings, sculptures “and everything else that people want to show and sell,” she says. She also collects outdated media, televisions and huge aquariums for decoration, “and we will also sell vintage clothing”.

She has two purple classroom size rooms that will serve as an art supply store, clothing store, and gallery. There is more space in the basement that she would like to convert into studio space.

Behind the main school building is a huge and partially temperature-controlled barn where Atkinson would like to offer family-friendly, art-inspired events with music and also street-art-oriented lessons.

Atkinson, who has been an artist for most of her life, first got into spray can art and murals a few years ago. “This is not something you can enroll in at your local college. We want to teach people the steps to create a mural and give them the space to do so, ”she says. Painting an intricate, stylized, colorful word or phrase several feet wide on a wall is not as easy as buying a canvas and painting on it. “It’s hard to get permission to paint a wall and then it takes a long time – the whole process can be daunting.”

Over the past few years Atkinson and James Gubbins, who started the Momentum Art Tech location on Cottage Grove Road, have convinced a few dozen shopkeepers on the east side of Madison and in Monona to do murals. Each mural required hours and several cans of spray paint as well as imagination, experience, and skill (known in the aerosol world as “can control”).

A look at some of these murals on so-called “Permission Walls” shows why there are special colors for such work. The spray paints Atkinson sells include Montana Colors’ 94 and Hardcore line of products, as well as the Kobra brand. These paints are specially designed to adhere to walls, dry quickly and not drip. They range from regular to large doses and cost anywhere from $ 6 to $ 12 each. They come in wildly bright colors.

Atkinson dismisses the idea that the store encourages illegal behavior like tagging and street artists painting on walls that they don’t have permission to display. She says that all art grows out of an initial misunderstanding. “Every generation has its art direction,” she explains. “That is ours.”

Street art and graffiti, which began in New York City in the 1960s and 70s and spread around the globe, are considered fine art, and such pieces can be found in expensive art galleries today.

But beyond that, this art can change dreary cityscapes for the better. “It used to be thought that street art would destroy cities, but now it’s being used to beautify otherwise dingy places,” she says. “Make sure you take a walk and go under a footbridge and you will see big, beautiful murals – this is much better than just dirty concrete.”

Atkinson hopes to be able to fully open by late November or early December. She currently meets with artists and sells art supplies by arrangement. In the meantime, she is documenting the progress at the Pumpkin Hollow Art Center, 3956 Hoepker Road, on the Instagram page @pumpkinhollowartcenter.