MKE IT Downtown

Meet the Muralist: Emma Daisy Gertel Cultivating Strength Through Her Art

September 21, 2020 /   Gertel Westown in Bloom Mural Milwaukee Downtown

Emmay Daisy GertelWestown in Bloom is the gateway to the city when heading eastbound. Emma Daisy Gertel was inspired for the floral piece from the notion of urban planting along with the physical environment itself, thinking about the people who pass through the space every day and see the wall.

“I thought a lot about the message and social impact I wished to impart” she recalls. Her uses her art to spread joy, encourage changes in our behaviors towards one another and cultivate our strengths. 

She uses the floral concept in her work as a metaphor of creating a sense of wonder, vibrancy, beauty and hope that are representative of the revitalization and renewal efforts in Westown. The mural represents a collective garden; it represents the hard work, dedication, growth and abundance everyone puts into the city and all it is a reminder that all must tend and care for it. 

Gertel chose the colors to make a strong statement and to use the contrast of bright colors against a “concrete jungle” to her advantage in creating an “explosion of color” downtown. 

“I hear from people how it changes their mood and lifts their spirits. Most recently it served as a beautiful backdrop to protesters standing for justice and equality,” Gertel says. 

Emma Daisy Gertel Westown in Bloom MuralThroughout creating this piece, her understanding of Westown in Bloom’s purposed changed. It became clearer how powerful this work could be and how it goes beyond herself as an artist. Gertel reflects on the piece, saying, “Access to art is vital and that our experiences of it can be so vastly different, that is the beauty of public art.” 

About the Author: Claire Neville is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Special Project Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, advancing downtown's strategic priorities in the realm of economic development and public space management.  

Posted in:  Arts & Culture