3D Artists 'Guarantee Wows' With Installation at Brookfield Ice Rink

These 3D paintings don’t just pop off the wall, they also move on your screen.

Walk into the Ponds of Brookfield ice rink on a hot summer day and the temperature dips below freezing, young children skate with surprising skill and the walls are plain white. That is, the walls were plain white until this week, when a world-renowned artist stepped in with his team and started five one-of-a-kind murals that have a life of their own. 

“We want to make it a gallery and not a rink,” Tim Fox said while sharing his vision for the giant ice rink where sixth and seventh graders were squaring off for practice. He believes the space has the capacity to be both a physical and mental health center for those who visit.

Leaders at the Ponds of Brookfield commissioned world-renowned anamorphic artist Leon Keer, from Utrecht, which is just south Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He is known for creating 3D streetart, murals and even using augmented reality to bring his work to life.


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If you haven’t heard of anamorphic art, here’s the gist: Artists use a perspective technique to give a distorted image a multi-dimensional effect. Keer said he was drawn to this style, because it unites art with math. 

“I always try to strive for even more complex mathematical feats in the arts,” Keer said. “You have to learn something new every day.” 

Like many artists, Keer’s hands, clothes and even phone are covered with speckles of colorful paint. With an accent, he talks about the project with an excitement to get to the details. He said that’s where the work comes to life for him. 

But with just 10 days for the commission, Keer couldn’t paint all five murals on his own. So he assembled a team, including Mike Kothuis, Remko van Schaik and Nate Bavanowski. While two of Keer’s co-artists hale from the Netherlands, Bavanowski calls Chicago home. 

“They bring in a team when the project is bigger than the artist,” Kothuis said.


The installation started Monday. The artists walked through the space and made sketches for five dynamic murals. The designs include a rocket ship, superhero costumes , a giant trophy and even pop-out versions of team logos, because Keer wants the athletes to “feel at home.” 

By day two, the four-man crew was ahead of schedule. With the walls already white, they didn’t have to take time to prime them for the project. On Tuesday, the team was already painting the perspective lines, which is a crucial step to making sure the works get the right perspective to have the full 3D effect. 

By the end of the project, all of the designs will seemingly pop off the walls and the artists will create designated photo spots where you can take pictures to appear as if you are part of the painting. And while that’s pretty amazing, that’s not the end of Keer’s vision. The art will jump off the walls, and onto your screen once the team adds the augmented reality experience, meaning if you use an app on your phone, you will see a moving version of the installation. 

As Kothuis said, “We guarantee a lot of wows.”

So the next time you’re watching a game at the Ponds of Brookfield, you’ll still see kiddos skating beyond their years, but you’ll also be part of a gallery that connects the sport with art, math and technology. 




Allison Garcia is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.