Celebrating Wisconsin through community murals

Murals featured on Arts Wisconsin’s 2017 year-end card:

La Crosse

Check out more community murals featured during Creative Economy Week in May 2017, presented by Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

Ashland:  Celebrating Ashland’s history and creativity with a pedestrian underpass mosaic mural created by community volunteers, with support from the City of Ashland and the Chequamegon Bay Arts Council with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the State of Wisconsin.

Pedestrian Underpass project unveiled
Ashland Daily Press, 10-24-16

La Crosse:  John Pugh created Confluence to celebrate the role of La Crosse as a sacred place. This sacred status arises from the interaction between the region’s rivers, landscape, and all the people who have called it home.

About 24,000 BCE, glaciers covered much of the Upper Midwest with ice more than a mile thick. These glaciers scraped the land nearly flat as they grew and spread south. However, the Driftless Area escaped glaciation, leaving steep bluffs and deep coulees intact. When the glaciers surrounding this area began melting about 16,000 years ago, they released torrents of raging water.  This water, over a period of millennia, carved the unglaciated landscape, forming the Black, La Crosse, and Mississippi Rivers, which converge here in La Crosse.

The first people of the region were nomadic hunters and gathers, pursuing Ice Age mastodons and mammoths, and later the deer, fish, and small game that still populate the countryside. More recently, mound builders and farmers, including the Ho-Chunk, filled the river valleys with villages and cornfields. Centuries later, waves of immigrants arrived from other continents.

Confluence was envisioned by internationally renowned artist John Pugh and created by him with assistance from his staff, local artists, and apprentices. The brick wall of the Pump House Regional Arts Center was covered with a white plaster.  The mural was painted on strips of non-woven canvas that were applied to the plastered wall, similar to the way that wallpaper is hung.

The art technique employed to paint this mural is trompe l’oeil, which deceives the eye into seeing three-dimensional illusions. Did you notice, for example, how the glaciers seem to jut out of the sides of the mural or that the painted bricks match the real bricks on the front of the building?

The 25-by-60-foot mural was dedicated June 14, 2014, during the first Artspire La Crosse celebration. The mural was funded by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as state, county, city, corporate, foundation, and private support.

This mural on the Pump House Regional Arts Center in the heart of the La Crosse Arts District celebrates the spirit of this place and the importance of the arts, artists, and other creative people in forming and expressing our community’s identity. It also celebrates the convergence of many diverse peoples that have given La Crosse its unique culture.

The mural is located at 119 King Street, at the Pump House Regional Arts Center, in La Crosse

Milwaukee:  Since 2012, the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services has been committed to ensuring that public art is created in neighborhoods with, by, and for the residents of that neighborhood, reclaiming public space through art as sources of pride for residents and the community.  The Department of Neighborhood Services has historically been involved in fighting blight through correction of building code violations.  The outreach beautification efforts leverage building knowledge and community connections to support a multi-faceted outreach section that partners with community groups, artist collectives, and residents to create public art that is reflective of Milwaukee’s rich diversity and heritage.    The Department of Neighborhood Services was recognized with Arts Wisconsin’s 2017 Arts in the Community Award in October 2017.

The most recent public art project, Sherman Park Risingled by artist Tia Richardson, was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 22, 2017.

Wittenburg:  The “Walls of Wittenberg” murals have brought visitors, a 24/7 art gallery, and a sense of community pride to this small Central Wisconsin community.  Learn more at www.wallsofwittenberg.com.