Imagine traveling the country from the view of a train, stopping in major cities from Los Angles to Detroit. The experience brings you closer to several others you are traveling with, all committed and fully invested to a passion project they are researching on the journey. You see not only the beauty of the mountains, hills and flat lands, but public art; murals and installations given to anyone passing by to enjoy for no cost other than the moment of time it takes to make an impression. Matt Bero, of Look Up Art, and a fellow creative took part in the Millennial Train Project this summer and experienced exactly this, with the addition of what he calls amazing food unlike anything he has ever had before.
I had been following his journey on his social links, but I recently had the pleasure of hearing him talk about it in person at the Fox River Ad Club kick-off event at The Draw in Appleton. His passion project while on the Millennial Train was to research the impact public art has on its communities. Matt himself has been a major proponent of public art, completing a mural last year called Morty the Moose. Beyond creating Morty, the addition of the mural has sparked several local events, including Lunch with Morty and an Art and Sole 5K run/walk. Recently ordinances have been changed to make public art easier to accomplish in Green Bay, and more murals have been completed or are in the works from other artists. I’m thrilled to see that the reaction is largely positive.
While in each city, Matt had 5 to 6 hours of free time to walk around and take pictures of the public art, like Clarion Alley in San Francisco which has many small murals covering its walls and one of Shark Toof‘s creations in Detroit. Part of the experience was also talking to others. Matt encouraged the audience at the Fox River Ad Club event to go out and find people to start conversations with and learn those people’s stories, as well as share their own. He referenced two occasions. The first was a time was when he hadn’t intended to be talking to anyone while visiting The Container Yard in Los Angles, but with the conversation starter of the hat he was wearing, he ended up talking with the person who created it for over an hour, hearing his story. The second was when he was in Clarion Alley asking what brought the couple originating from out of the country to that exact spot where they were viewing the murals and taking pictures.
Matt’s story, and sharing what he wants to do is what led him to have the opportunity to paint Morty, travel by train across the country, be involved with a 5k run/walk featuring art in the city, and hosting a live art exhibition called Catalyist to spark the art movement in Green Bay. His career is as a UX/UI designer, but as he says, it really is a side hustle for him with all he is doing. He lives his belief of taking action on the idea and completing it rather than just thinking about it; because the idea alone goes nowhere without action.
Side note: The Draw in Appleton is a wonderfully creative space and exemplifies public art with it’s own piece on the exterior of the building. Not to mention it is surrounded by water views, which I love.