This has been Milwaukee’s “summer of murals.” Artists across the city have spray-painted murals honoring social justice movements and remarkable aspects of Milwaukee. The murals have added some beauty and color to an otherwise tumultuous and difficult summer.
Most recently, internationally celebrated muralist Justin Suarez, aka “Aerosol Kingdom” is painting a Great Horned Owl on Historic Villard Ave. to kick off Visual Vibes on Villard. Just two days earlier, Suarez painted a wildlife mural, “Current Events,” sponsored by the Harbor District BID 51 featuring an adorable otter, beaver, bird and several species of fish.
Suarez has spent seven years volunteering at Wild Wings, a not-for-profit educational organization that houses and cares for permanently injured birds of prey in Rochester, New York. This experience puts a personal twist on the great horned owl Suarez painted as he has a personal connection with horned owls and similar birds.
A few days before completing “Current Events,” Suarez asked Stacey Williams-Ng, owner and executive director of Wallpapered City if there were other walls he could work on while in Milwaukee. Williams-Ng linked Suarez to Angelique Sharpe, The City of Milwaukee Business Improvement District #19, who agreed to have Suarez paint a mural to start “Visual Vibes on Villard.”
The “Visual Vibes on Villard” event is a new large-scale mural arts project that will be installed on Historic Villard Avenue. The project is striving to beautify the community and highlight local artists.
Sharpe explained, “There’s been so much disinvestment in the area for the past few decades. Art like this is almost non-existent on this side of town. All I can think of is all the babies at the schools and daycares in the area.”
For Suarez, being part of a project like “Visual Vibes on Villard” is where he feels most at home. “This is the type of place I feel best about making art. It means a great deal to know it will be appreciated by so many.”
Wallpapered City is coordinating the project and The Villard Avenue Business Improvement District is sponsoring it. The mural is located at 5268 N. 35th St., Milwaukee.