Milwaukee has a stellar outdoor art scene. From our Black Cat Ally to the George Floyd mural, the wall art here is in point. Fred Kaems’s new Greetings from MKE on the side of Luci Boutique (215 W. Florida St.), does not fall short. The city scape in the lettering and the geometric background captures the blues of Lake Michigan and the golden jewel that is our Milwaukee.
Kaem, @Fred_the_Artist on Instagram, has been making art for over 20 years. In his early years, growing up in Sherman Park, he started as a graffiti artist and developed his craft to where businesses were hiring him to paint their walls. He remembers there was joy in running around with his friends painting whatever they felt like, but now he looks for the joy people get out of his art. Whether it is a neighborhood or a business, “I really just like to see it make someone smile,” he said.
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Today he is using his degree in digital fabrication and design from UW-Milwaukee to 3D print objects and assemble project in the tangible world. As a utilitarian-artist, he is currently working on a sculpture that also works as a chandelier.
His piece Greetings from MKE is a great example of how accounting for weather is a huge factor in outdoor art. According to Kaem, it took him about two days to finish, but the first day was in January and the second was in March.
He said he has several styles he employs, like using graphics with sharp lines and defined features. Another is what he calls quasi-realism. He will make a defined and realistic painting of a person or animal and put it on a background that you normally would not see, like his piece The Pugilist housed on the wall at Cream City Boxing. When he is given artistic freedom, Kaem likes to just create something that makes him laugh.