Jaime Brown hopes her new downtown mural becomes a source of hope to area residents feeling down.
Brown and art partner Karim Jabbari recently crafted a mural on the east wall of Kenosha Creative Space, 624 57th St. It’s called “Kinoje” – the Ojibwe tribe’s word for “Pike” – and is written in bright, geometric blocks of color.
“The pike fish is obviously very significant around here,” Brown said. “I, myself, am from the Ojibwe tribe so it’s relevant and it holds a special meaning in my heart.”
Brown, a Kenosha native, moved back here after converting to Islam in Morrocco a few years ago. She now travels the world crafting murals.
“I like to do very abstract, geometric shapes,” said Brown, a Tremper High School graduate. “Generally, when I go to a place I do research on the city beforehand so that way when I leave a piece of my art it’s not something that just represents me and me only. It’s something that the city and the residents can benefit from when they look at it long after I’m gone.”
After the summer’s historic unrest and destruction following the controversial police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, thousands of area residents began painting messages of love and light on boarded up downtown homes, government buildings and small businesses.
“Everyone reached out to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, people are painting these boards on all these businesses. You’re a muralist, you’re from here, you have to do this,” Brown, 39, told Kenosha.com. “My inbox was blowing up. People were like, ‘You have to go downtown, you have to paint something, you have to, you have to. If you don’t it’s an injustice.”
She hopes the mural’s bold colors help folks feeling gray.
“If colors could give someone a hug, that’s what I want this mural to do. It’s a reminder that even when things seem really gray, there’s always a hidden pocket of color tucked around the corner when you least expect it. Keep going. You’ll find exactly what you didn’t know you needed,” she said.
When she finally arrived downtown one August morning to start painting, Brown had trouble finding a vacant space. A friend advised her to get in touch with Francisco Loyola, executive director of Kenosha Creative Space. Loyola suggested the Kenosha Creative Space become her canvas.
“He explained to us his vision,” Brown recalled. Soon after, Brown and Jabbari began painting the wall.
“It definitely livens up an area that needs a little bit of color,” she said.
She hopes to work with him in the coming months and years.
“Francisco is an incredible idea-generator,” she said. “He loves to bring people together and he’s exactly what Kenosha needs. I would definitely like to work with him again and I really hope he gets the donors and much-needed funding to bring several incredible projects to life.”