If you thought Milwaukee went mural-happy in 2019, it’s gone all out in 2020. Murals celebrating local civil rights leaders, murals celebrating local frontline workers, and murals celebrating local otters and beavers have all popped up in recent months, just to name a few. (Never mind that Shepard Fairey mural that was opposed by local artists and eventually scrapped.) Now, add to the ever-growing list four—count ’em, four—new murals being painted on support beams underneath I-794 along North Broadway.

Artists Tia Richardson, The Couto Brothers, Josie Rice, and Dave Watkins are currently completing their creations, collectively known as the “Brighten the Passage” project. Check out their works-in-progress in this video. Hi, Hop!

“The land underneath the freeway offers a unique opportunity to reimagine ways to activate space and enhance connectivity in our urban landscape,” says Paul Schwartz, executive director of the Milwaukee Public Market and Business Improvement District #2, in a press release. “We’ve worked hard to develop the public market into a catalyst of connectivity between Downtown and Third Ward, and the ‘Brighten the Passage’ project will help us continue to create the type of corridor that appropriately bridges our vibrant neighborhoods.”

But that’s not all for the formerly drab space. Later this fall, Phase Two of the “Brighten the Passage” project will include “programmable aesthetic lighting at both Broadway and Water Street under I-794 to create an enhanced sense of place and further fulfill project goals.”

Fun! The murals are expected to be completed this month. Here’s the full press release:

Four murals beneath I-794 to “Brighten the Passage” between downtown’s central business district and Historic Third Ward
Works by Tia Richardson, The Couto Brothers, Josie Rice and Dave Watkins currently underway at Broadway

MILWAUKEE (September 9, 2020) – Connecting the central business district to the Historic Third Ward, the Broadway corridor under the I-794 freeway is being transformed with new works of art as part of the “Brighten the Passage” initiative – a multifaceted project aimed towards improving connectivity and enhancing accessibility between the neighborhoods under the freeway.

The four I-794 freeway support piers that frame Broadway are currently being transformed with art installations into what will soon be one of the most unique outdoor urban art collections in the region. Tia Richardson, The Couto Brothers, Josie Rice and Dave Watkins are bringing their individual styles to life during the first phase of the “Brighten the Passage” project. All four murals are expected to be complete by the end of the month.

“‘Brighten the Passage’ is an implementation of the vision embodied in the City’s Downtown Master Plan, which was further developed by the neighborhood BIDs to bolster downtown’s daytime and nightlife economies,” said Matt Dorner, economic development director of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. “Addressing underutilized zones that discourage pedestrian activity is a goal that will be advanced with this project. We want residents, workers and visitors alike to not only feel like they are in a unique and vibrant place, but we also want to provide new attractions that draw more patrons to the area for our businesses.”

Complementing the recent significant investment along Broadway, including BMO Tower, Huron Building, The Hop streetcar system and the success of the Milwaukee Public Market, the “Brighten the Passage” project will add vibrancy to a once overlooked space and reinforce this important north-south corridor.

“The land underneath the freeway offers a unique opportunity to reimagine ways to activate space and enhance connectivity in our urban landscape,” said Paul Schwartz, executive director of the Milwaukee Public Market and Business Improvement District #2. “We’ve worked hard to develop the public market into a catalyst of connectivity between Downtown and Third Ward, and the ‘Brighten the Passage’ project will help us continue to create the type of corridor that appropriately bridges our vibrant neighborhoods.”

Led by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 and Historic Third Ward Business Improvement District #2, the project brought together a unique partnership with the private sector and local, state and federal entities given the location on the freeway infrastructure.

Later this fall, Phase Two of the “Brighten the Passage” project will include programmable aesthetic lighting at both Broadway and Water Street under I-794 to create an enhanced sense of place and further fulfill project goals.

About The Author

Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

X