Though it may not be immediately obvious to many, there’s a bright pop of color in the form of a new six-story abstract mural on the side of a Walker’s Point apartment complex.
The mural, with strips of shades of blue and orange that terminate in drip lines along the bottom, was painted by artist Dave Watkins on the River Place Lofts, 625 W. Freshwater Way, along the South Menomonee Canal.
The site was long home to the Pfister & Vogel Tannery. Nearby, Sprecher Brewing had its first brewery in a building that is now gone.
The best view of the mural, other than for tenants on-site is likely from the canal or from the High Rise Bridge above ... at least until the huge vacant land across the water is developed into housing, parkland or for other purposes.
The mural is painted on the west side side of the Finishing House, facing the recently completed fourth phase of the development, called the Power House.
But, don’t panic, it’s not painted on the building’s cream city brick. Instead, says Watkins, it’s on a stairwell addition that was made of concrete block.
Watkins says he painted the mural with exterior latex and spray paints in nine days across three weeks.
He said he drew, “inspiration from flowing blue reflections of the nearby Menomonee River, combined with the prominent use of oranges, and cream tones representing the the distinctive Cream City Brick of the surrounding architecture.
“The mural's vertical lines pay homage to the neighboring structures and symbolize the growth of Milwaukee's ever changing skyline.”
The mural is striking and with three sides and more than 2,200 square feet of surface area it’s a great addition to the skyline and certainly much better than looking at a windowless cream-colored breeze block tower.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.