Jeramey Jannene
Visual Art

See All of Downtown Milwaukee’s New Murals

From otters to activists, Milwaukee is awash in new public art.

By - Sep 4th, 2020 06:55 pm
New downtown murals. Photos by Jeramey Jannene, Graham Kilmer and Milwaukee Downtown.

New downtown murals. Photos by Jeramey Jannene, Graham Kilmer and Milwaukee Downtown.

A global pandemic has changed virtually everything planned for Milwaukee in 2020, but it hasn’t stopped public art from proliferating Downtown.

A number of new pieces have been installed across the greater Downtown area in a variety of mediums. They’re augmented by the seasonal Sculpture Milwaukee installation which lines Wisconsin Avenue and N. Broadway.

Learn more about each new piece:

Brighten The Passage

Long planned as a concept, the broader goal of the project is to enhance the connection between East Town and the Historic Third Ward. While other infrastructure upgrades are planned, Milwaukee Downtown commissioned artists to paint the concrete supports for the elevated Interstate 794 freeway along N. Broadway.

Artists, including Tia Richardson, the Couto Brothers (Alex Couto and Chris Couto), Dave Watkins and Josie Rice, have spent the past week painting the sizable structures. The piece is not yet finished.

Current Events Mural

Located aside the one-story building at 546 S. Water St. in the Harbor District, this mural was completed in August by New York-based artist Justin Suarez (working as Aerosol Kingdom).

Coordinated by Wallpapered City for the nonprofit Harbor District, the work features a beaver, otter, largemouth bass, belted kingfisher bird (snatching a minnow), chinook salmon and native mussels. The building is occupied by Elementis Leather Tanning Products.

Give Them Their Flowers Now Mural

Wrapping a building at 1334 W. Vliet St., “Give Them Their Flowers Now” and “An Injury To One Is An Injury To All” highlight the current racial justice leaders including Khalil Coleman, Vaun Mayes, Destiny Monae and Milele A. Coggs.

The pieces were curated by Art-I-Culture led by Sam Alford and Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor and painted by a team of artists who have stayed in the background to highlight those featured. They are intended as the first pieces in a larger “outdoor museum.”

Read more on the pieces in our August 17th article.

The Hero in You Mural

Painted by artist Ken Brown, the mural runs the length of the 620-foot eastern facade of the MacArthur Square parking garage. It is best viewed from N. James Lovell St. between W. Wells St. and W. State St.

The mural is designed to highlight the city’s frontline workers who reported for duty early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I hope that someone will see one of the images and feel a sense of love, hope, vision, excitement, adventure, color, imagination, innovation. Really feel the healing properties,” said Brown to Milwaukee Downtown, which commissioned the mural.

Kindred Mural

Kenosha-based artist Jaime Brown has painted a mural, in partnership with Karim Jabbari, on an oft-overlooked downtown space – a skywalk.

The mural, known as “Kindred,” is on the south side of the skywalk crossing N. 2nd St. between W. Wisconsin Ave. and W. Michigan St. The skywalk connects the Plankinton Building with the 1980s core of the former Grand Avenue Mall (now The Avenue).

Her colorful mural highlights elements of her Native American heritage, including a sun and representations of Lake Michigan. The piece is a “journey from the original roots from the wigwam to the industrial age to now,” said Brown in an interview with Milwaukee Downtown, which commissioned the mural.

Roads of Democracy

The only temporary project in the mix, Roads of Democracy showcases the work of three different artists working in different mediums.

The installation, originally intended as a showcase while the Democratic National Convention was underway, includes 58-street-pole banners.

The banners display words from Dasha Kelly Hamilton‘s poem “Of” and collage images from Della Wells. Kelly Hamilton currently serves as Milwaukee’s poet laureate, an honor bestowed on her by the Milwaukee Public Library. Wells and Kelly Hamilton were jointly crowned “Artist of the Year” by the Milwaukee Arts Board in 2016.

Emmy-award winning filmmaker Brad Pruitt will commemorate the installation as well as the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and 100th anniversary of Women’s suffrage in a film scheduled to be released in fall.

Curated by Milwaukee Downtown, the piece is scheduled to remain up until the end of 2020.

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