Artist Community Potential: Kenosha, Wisconsin

I’m calling it. Kenosha is ripe for a community of comingling creatives. It’s already been on the rise but I think it can be so much more so.

Of the 10 cheapest places to rent an apartment across the country, nine are located in the nation’s midlands. Kenosha’s cost of living is about average. As of September, 2014, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Kenosha, WI is $854. One bedroom apartments in Kenosha, WI rent for $672 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $794. There are cheap and perhaps cheaper places to rent just up the road in Racine, WI but they have higher crime rates there.

Why places like Kenosha and not the larger cities? The larger cities are no longer places for artists to move to in order to “make it” and/or revel neighborhoods where artists, writers, and other creatives comingle. Artists are now supposed to make money through various revenue streams (multiple sources of income, such as gallery showings, teaching positions, Web sales, commission projects and grants). You can’t expect only to be shown in art galleries if you want to support yourself.

Sure, sure, I know that many artists are selling art online but creatives and societies benefit when all sorts of creatives can comingle geographically. “Kenowhere” (Kenosha, WI) is absolutely ripe and waiting, hoping for for a more happening artist community. It’s begging (literally in many cases) to have a beneficial shake up as it’s a larger town (around 100,000) but has a small town mentality. If you want to make your mark, this is a good place to start good things. There’s too much boring here and it’s not because we don’t have places to go. We have coffee shops, bars, malls, museums, movie theaters, beautiful Lake Michigan lake front, restaurants, arts and craft stores, diners, art galleries and so on.

Art supplies. For craft stores, we have Hobby Lobby, Michaels (up in Racine), and Jo-Anns Fabric & Craft Store (one in Kenosha and a superstore in Racine). For art supply stores, we have Art Works (small but they’ll order stuff upon request and are very helpful), Dick Blick stores within day trip range to the north, in Milwaukee (Wisconsin), and south of us (all in Illinois) in Schaumbert, Evanston, Lincoln Park Chicago, Chicago Loop, and Wheaton.

Transportation. Kenosha is not far from Milwaukee (about a 45 minutes drive from here) or Chicago (a bit over an hour from here, depending on where you’re going in Chicago). One can take the train down into Chicago for something like a $5 dollar round trip ticket, although the lines could run far more often on the weekends. Unfortunately, the train doesn’t run up to Milwaukee because of political cronyism. Sorry. There is an airport in Milwaukee that’s about a 40 or 45 minute drive from here or so.

It’s probably best for artists to have their own cars here. Many areas are not pedestrian friendly (no sidewalks) and our bus system doesn’t run to enough places or for the hours one would need to really do well without a car here. (Madison’s bus system is freaking fantastic– I lived there for 14 years and never needed a car.) Kenosha does have some bike lanes and routes. However, we have long, messy winters here, so a small car is probalby your best bet.

Colleges. We have three in the immediate area.

Public Schools. “The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) scored an average of 65.65 points out of 100 on the state’s School Report Cards for 2013-14, earning the equivalent of a “C-” from DPI. The district did not have a single school that failed to meet the state’s expectations.” http://www.maciverinstitute.com/2014/10/racine-kenosha-schools-earn-a-c–on-state-report-cards-for-2013-14/

Crime Rates. Our crime rates are average. Kenosha Police are big on the drug war because big city drug dealers and gangs would love new territory not far away from “Chiraq” (Chicago). They’re doing a pretty good job. 🙂  My hat off to them, though I think the War on Drugs needs to be revamped on a national level.

Neighborhoods. You can check them here.

Spices. Get yours at Tenuta’s on 52nd Street. Pssssst. Their spice, seasoning, and herb prices are much lower by weighti in most cases and they have a whole isle the length of the store that has spices and herbs on one side of it. Tenuta’s also has lots of foods imported from the old countries, amazing deli counters, cheese, alcohol, pasta galore, lots of things italian, dried fruits, nuts, various treats, and cured meats. It’s one amazing store.

Vegetarian and Vegan Shopping. Woodman’s Foods. Go there. They even have hemp milk and all that there. Lots of organic and low sodium stuff.

Art Scene Resources

As a Place to Raise KidsKenosha was voted one of the best place to raise your kids in the US. So a few factories moved out. We’re still fantastic and we’ll be more fanstastic if you get over here, artists and creatives. Well, the nice ones anyway. Trouble makers in a good way.

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