You Can’t Miss This Enormous Harbor District Mural

You really *otter* check it out when you’ve got the chance. 

We learned last week that the city’s Historic Preservation Commission rejected Shepard Fairey’s proposal to paint a large-scale mural in Milwaukee in advance of the Democratic National Convention. (In case you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name Shepard Fairey before, he’s the guy who made, and then was subsequently sued over, the now-iconic “Hope” poster of former President Barack Obama). 

But that doesn’t mean the city’s supply of spray paint has run dry! Earlier this month, Justin Suarez, aka Aerosol Kingdom, began painting an enormous mural in the Harbor District that’s at least as attention-getting. He finished the work this week.



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The mural – which is located near the intersection of Water and Bruce Streets, not far from the confluence of the Milwaukee and Kinnickinic Rivers – depicts a variety of river-dwelling animals. Namely, an otter, a beaver, a bird and several species of fish. They’re all significantly larger, and slightly more colorful, than their real-life counterpoints but they’re otherwise easily identifiable. And 100% adorable.

Suarez worked with scientists at the UW-Milwaukee Freshwater Institute to identify species that lived nearby. All of the animals, unfortunately, could once be found in the area in far greater numbers. But there’s been something of a resurgence in animal activity around the water in recent years. And we have reason to hope that, if we continue to care for the city’s rivers and harbor, we’ll begin to see more and more of these cuddly critters in years to come. 

The mural is part of a series of projects commissioned by the Business Improvement District 51 and the Harbor District, to activate Milwaukee’s waterfront. 

What’s next for Suarez? He’s already begun work on another mural, of a great horned owl. The work is going up at the intersection of Villard Avenue and 35th Street as part of the event Visual Vibes on VIllard. Wallpapered City is coordinating the project, and The Villard Avenue Business Improvement District is sponsoring it.

Photo courtesy of Wallpapered City



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.