Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 and the Downtown Placemaking Task Force are continuing to make their mark throughout downtown Milwaukee.
Earlier this year, the south-facing façade of the 2nd Street skywalk, between Wisconsin Avenue and Michigan Street, was announced as a new community canvas. Now the group is unveiling plans for a panoramic portrait at MacArthur Square, in partnership with the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works.
The announcement comes as Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 completes a new, interactive Public Art map highlighting over 140 monuments, sculptures and murals throughout downtown Milwaukee and nearby neighborhoods.
“Public Art is a great way to connect downtown users and honor our community,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. “Now more than ever, we need to celebrate the people that make downtown Milwaukee a thriving place to live, work and play.”
After an extensive RFP process, Wisconsin native Jaime Brown was selected as the artist for the 2nd Street skywalk mural. The proposed title of Brown’s work is “Kindred,” and the approximate dimensions of the mural will be 92 feet wide by 15 feet high. The mural is a partnership between Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 and The Avenue. Brown will begin working on the 2nd Street skywalk mural in June with assistance from Karim Jabbari, a world-renowned light and calligraphy artist.
“I’m so honored to have the opportunity to enliven this space,” said muralist Jaime Brown. “In this vibrant piece, I’m looking to pay homage to Milwaukee’s, and my own, Native American roots. Like a quilt that tells a story, my intent is to weave in symbols that represent the city’s rich history and bright future. No matter what city we were raised in, what country we come from or where our roots are now planted, we can all understand the universal language of art. It’s a reminder that we are all in a sense, kindred.”
Jaime Brown has completed a range of public work around the world. Some of her murals and street art include “Cotton Candy Stairs” in Halifax, Nova Scotia; “Unified” in Dubai, as well as additional work in Morocco, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. “Kindred” will be Brown’s first work in the Milwaukee area.
Milwaukee native Ken Brown, best known for his technique of using lines and colors to create a stained glass effect, was selected to complete the mural at MacArthur Square. His canvas will be the approximately 620 feet wide by 6 feet high panel of the city-owned parking structure at 6th Street and Kilbourn Avenue.
The mural, aptly titled “The Hero in You,” will be a timestamp of Milwaukee’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic and feature images of various frontline heroes. Stories chronicling the service of more than 10 downtown essential workers who will be depicted in the mural will be featured in a special blog series.
The 2nd Street skywalk and MacArthur Square murals will be part of the growing portfolio of public realm improvement projects led by Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. To date, these projects include enhancements at Postman Square and murals like “Heart & Sol” by Mauricio Ramirez (2019), “Westown in Bloom” by Emma Daisy Gertel (2019), “Migration” by Katie Batten and Janson Rapisarda (2018) and over a dozen utility box murals throughout downtown by Mauricio Ramirez (2017 – 2019).
Since 2017, Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 has contributed and raised $150,000 for the implementation of large-scale mural projects, with more than half of that investment coming from sources outside of the organization.
The new public art map features over 140 monuments, sculptures and murals alongside multiple filters that allow users to browse works from the comfort of home or plan a self-guided tour. Transportation options such as The Hop and Bublr Bikes stations can be added as an overlay to the map.
“Our new public art map is a great tool for discovering or rediscovering the works of art that have added vibrancy and historical depth to our landscape,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. “I encourage the community to explore our rich collection, while practicing safe social distancing guidelines.”
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