Why this Local Architect Collects Street Art

Some of Robert Greenstreet’s impressive collection can be seen in his studio.

If you’re in Paris and want to see some art, you might be inclined to head to the Louvre. But Robert Greenstreet, outgoing dean of the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, makes a beeline to the Pont des Arts bridge. And he typically walks away with a piece by his favorite street artist, Maurice Michel Lode, to add to his collection.

Street art, according to Greenstreet, is a spontaneous form that he prefers to buy where the artist created it. That could be anywhere: a bridge, a street, even an old refrigerator factory on the outskirts of Paris.

Greenstreet began collecting street art more than 20 years ago and has purchased work from artists in Paris, London, Prague, New York and Pamplona, Spain. He owns about 80 pieces by Lode. Greenstreet met Lode in 1991 and has visited him almost every year since to buy new art.

Getting to know the artists he buys pieces from is a big part of the allure for Greenstreet. For him, it’s not just the art that makes his collection special.

It’s the artists and relationships he’s built with them, too. “You just look for something that catches your eye,” he says. “Something that’s different.”

“Why this Local Architect Collects Street Art” appears in the August 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning August 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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