Utility Box Murals

Avenue of the Arts

To cultivate culture and community, the Downtown Placemaking Task Force was established in 2017 to oversee a series of special projects that enhance downtown's "third spaces," through public art and programming.

Comprised of downtown stakeholders and residents, the Downtown Placemaking Task Force first commissioned Mauricio Ramirez as the muralist for ten utility boxes on Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee's main street. The award-winning project features murals that reflect Wisconsin Avenue's rich history of commerce, diversity of architecture and people, and its undoubtedly bright future.

Since 2017, Ramirez continues to transform the city's built environment with his signature style known around the globe. The project has even inspired the creation of a citywide utility box mural program. 

"City of the Arts"

800 E. Wisconsin Avenue 

Reflecting Wisconsin Avenue’s terminating vista, this mural depicts the Milwaukee Art Museum’s breathtaking addition completed in 2001. The Quadracci Pavilion serves as Santiago Calatrava’s first groundbreaking project in the United States. The structure’s operating wings span 217 feet and take 3.5 minutes to open and close. This treasured city icon has transformed the Milwaukee skyline forevermore. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"WELCOMING FACES, FRIENDLY PLACES"

Sponsored by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21
650 N. Jackson Street

Milwaukee's walking concierges. Downtown's spirit squad. Information gurus. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21's Public Service Ambassadors and Clean Sweep Ambassadors go by many names. What remains consistent is their unwavering dedication to keeping downtown clean, safe and friendly. Since Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21's inception in 1998, the downtown ambassadors continue to make Wisconsin Avenue shine from sunrise to sundown. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"HISTORIC HOSPITALITY"

Sponsored by 411 East Wisconsin Center 
411 E. Wisconsin Avenue

Paying homage to Wisconsin Avenue’s friendly faces, this mural depicts longtime Pfister Hotel bellman, Harold Lewis. Known for his iconic smile, Harold has welcomed countless visitors to Wisconsin Avenue’s historic hotel since 2007. The street-facing mural depicts the Pfister Hotel’s architect, Charles Koch. Constructed in 1893, the Pfister Hotel’s original construction cost $1 million and was billed as the “Grand Hotel of the West.” 


Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"FASHION AND DESIGN"

Sponsored by 411 East Wisconsin Center
411 E. Wisconsin Avenue 

Harkening back to the days of Wisconsin Avenue’s prominent department store offerings, this mural depicts fashion commonly seen on the Avenue in the mid-century era. Home to Boston Store and Bon-Ton corporate offices today, Wisconsin Avenue once boasted the region's largest selection of department stores including Chapman’s, Espenhain’s, Gimbel’s, and later Marshall Field’s.

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"MILWAUKEE BRIDGE WAR"

Sponsored by Drury Hotels 
200 E. Wisconsin Avenue 

In the late 19th century, fierce competition between Juneautown (east of the river) and Kilbourntown (west of the river) resulted in a complicated matrix of shipping yards and streets. When the first bridge was constructed in 1842, the sides disputed further, and arguments escalated into the infamous Bridge War of 1845. Depicted in this mural, Milwaukee's founding fathers Solomon Juneau (sidewalk-facing) and Byron Kilbourn (street-facing) are divided by the Milwaukee River. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"GOOD LAND"

707 N. Plankinton Avenue 

Once home to a robust indigenous population, including the Menominee, Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk tribes, approximately seven villages were located within two miles of Milwaukee's present downtown. Although speculation continues around the meaning of the city's name, most historians believe Milwaukee derives its name from the Algonquian term meaning “good land.” Other interpretations include "gathering place" and "wet land."  

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"CITY OF FESTIVALS"

310 W. Wisconsin Avenue 

Once home to the popular Great Circus Parade between 1963 and 2009, and the City of Festivals parade between 1983 and 1993, Wisconsin Avenue continues to host some of the region’s largest parades and spectacles. Each year, millions of visitors are drawn to the Avenue to enjoy the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Memorial Day Parade, Veterans Day Parade, Sculpture Milwaukee and the NEWaukee Night Markets. The sidewalk-facing mural depicts the late Charlotte Rae, known for her role in NBC's The Facts of Life and a Milwaukee native. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"CIVIL RIGHTS"

Sponsored by The Wisconsin Center District 
700 N. 6th Street 

Reflecting on Milwaukee's rich history and role in the Civil Rights Movement, this mural features two Milwaukee trailblazers. In 1956, Vel Phillips (sidewalk-facing) was the first woman and African-American to serve on the Milwaukee Common Council. With support from Milwaukee activist Father James Groppi (street-facing), Phillips passed her groundbreaking Fair Housing Law in 1968, after nearly six years of garnering support. In 1979, Phillips became the first woman elected as Wisconsin's Secretary of State. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017

"AL MCGUIRE AND MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY"

Sponsored by The Wisconsin Club 
706 N. 9th Street 

Considered Marquette University's greatest coaches of all time, Al McGuire led the school's unrivaled basketball team to 11 consecutive winning season winnings. Between 1964 and 1977, McGuire shattered records with a final 259-80 win-loss tally over the course of his 13-year reign. McGuire's legacy lives on with Marquette University's Al McGuire Center and the annual Briggs and Al's Run and Walk fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. 

Mauricio Ramirez, Wisconsin Avenue Artist-In-Residence, 2017 

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