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Utility boxes are typically, well, utilitarian. But 10 boxes located along Wisconsin Avenue, from Cass to 9th Street, are about to get a little more interesting.

The Downtown Placemaking Task Force announced today that visual artist Mauricio Ramirez will begin painting scenes celebrating the storied history of Wisconsin Avenue on the boxes later this month. Ramirez—who favors a colorful palette and graffiti-inspired aesthetic—has created murals for some of the biggest brands in the country, including Microsoft, VitaminWater, Red Bull and Stella Artois. 

Ramirez with Shia Labeouf in front of "He Will Not Divide Us" collaboration

Ramirez with Shia Labeouf in front of “He Will Not Divide Us” collaboration; photo courtesy of Mauricio Ramirez

Ramirez grew up in Chicago, but he’s no stranger to Milwaukee’s street art scene. He traveled to Milwaukee often as a kid, and his extended family still lives in the metro Milwaukee area. “I really enjoy how Milwaukee has turned their old buildings and factories into updated spaces with new purposes,” he explained. “I am honored to celebrate in painting form the city’s rich history.”

The utility box mural project is just one of several arts initiatives the task force is introducing to beautify Wisconsin Avenue. Also on the docket is Lighting the Avenue, a proposal to install a unique lighting treatment along the street. And Sculpture Milwaukee, a free outdoor sculpture experience featuring works by 22 internationally acclaimed artists, will be on view from June 1 to October 22. All three projects are part of Arts on the Avenue, an initiative intended to heighten awareness of the city’s creative community and better showcase the history of Wisconsin Avenue.

The first of the utility box installations will go up in mid May and the last in late June. The boxes will be located at

  • 800 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • 650 N. Jackson Street
  • 401 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • 411 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • 200 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • 707 N. Plankinton Avenue
  • 703 N. 2nd Street
  • 300 W. Wisconsin Avenue
  • 700 N. 6th Street
  • 706 N. 9th Street

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