5 Things you need to know about #UboxMKE
1. The Location
Wisconsin Avenue is home to 10 new murals lining the street. Up and down the Avenue, mundane, gray utility boxes were situated on each block. Although the boxes are essential, they’re also a blight to the appeal of Wisconsin Avenue. Now, though, the transformed boxes enhance the charm of the street and have become the talk of the town as each box acts as a new painting on display. Artist Mauricio Ramirez made his way up the Avenue, adding ten new pieces of art that exemplify the key figures and history of Wisconsin Avenue.
2. The Why
Wisconsin Avenue, sprinkled with art, sculptures, and both modern and historical buildings, epitomizes the electricity and excitement of Milwaukee. The bland utility boxes were the perfect canvas to introduce public murals to the Avenue, adding color to the street in an effort to surprise and delight passersby. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 made it their mission to transform the utility boxes of Wisconsin Avenue into alluring pieces of art that reflect the street’s rich history of commerce.
3. The Artist
If there’s one man right for this job, it’s Mauricio Ramirez. Born in Chicago with family ties to Milwaukee, Mauricio was selected by a committee to convert the utility boxes into stunning masterpieces. Mauricio has always felt drawn to creating epic murals using new and inventive techniques. His dimensional, “low-poly” technique gives the boxes a more compelling perspective, as opposed to recreating a landscape of Milwaukee you can simply see in person.
Through early July, Mauricio enhanced the charm of Wisconsin Avenue using only a box of automotive primer (spray paint), a roll of painter's tape, and the canvas of a gray utility box. To celebrate the completion of these spectacular sights, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday, July 11, honoring mural subject like Harold Lewis, the Pfister Hotel’s longtime bellman.
4. The Theme
As described by Mauricio, “Each box represents a concept of the commerce of Wisconsin Avenue.” The boxes feature the rich history of industry on Wisconsin Avenue, specifically in regards to the workforce that has shaped the acclaimed street. A few figures depicted on the boxes include the Pfister Hotel’s architect Charles Koch, Pfister bellman Harold Lewis, the impressive wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum, a depiction of Wisconsin Avenue’s festivals and parades, and murals of Solomon Juneau and Byron Kilbourn.
5. The Technique
One of the things that contributes to Mauricio’s unique style is his use of geometric shapes to create an authentic and inventive work of art. The technique is called “low-poly” and gives the illusion of a 3D portrait. From across the street, the beautiful murals stick out at passersby and often leave even those in a hurry entranced by the marvel yet simplicity of the utility box. These beautiful murals are made up of meticulously placed and colored triangles, which elegantly illustrate the design of each box. Low-poly looks amazing when viewed from a distance, and a great appeal of the box also lies in the exquisite detail that can be seen up close.
To view locations and images of all 10 utility boxes, click here.
Blog by Katie Ullrich, Special Events & Marketing Intern