Local artist Emma Daisy Gertel has been tapped to create the so-called gateway mural announced for the west wall of 622 W. Wisconsin Ave., near the northeast corner of James Lovell Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Westown.
The mural – which was announced in March and is expected to be about 80 by 50 feet when it’s completed this summer – will depict an urban garden that is meant as a metaphor for the resurgence in Westown, where, among other projects, the former Grand Avenue Mall is undergoing a transformation, the Fiserv Forum opened last year and the old Warner Grand Theater is being converted into a new home for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Gertel – whose work can be seen around town, including at Black Cat Alley, where she painted her first mural – was chosen from among nearly 60 applications that arrived from around the world.
"My artistic concept is to create a bright, colorful garden of flora to enliven the space and create a sense of wonder, vibrancy, beauty and hope that is representative of the revitalization and renewal efforts of Westown," said Gertel, in a statement released Wednesday. "Plant life improves mood and there is nothing more welcoming to visitors than fresh flowers.
"I hope to create a dialogue with the community, as well as downtown stakeholders, to determine what sort of energy they would like to see planted in this space. What ‘seeds’ of intention must be planted to create a thriving space? My goal is to weave these responses into the work visually."
To accomplish this dialogue, Gertel will take part in a "virtual community garden" using unique hashtags on social media and via listening sessions at the June 12 NEWaukee Night Market and at the Westown Farmers’ Market.
"Milwaukee is certainly on the map as an arts hub," said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, in the statement.
"The caliber of submissions that we received from local, national and even international artists was exciting. It certainly made our job difficult; however, there was resounding support from the Downtown Placemaking Task Force to invest in our own creative community and artistic talent. We look forward to seeing Daisy’s mural brighten this entry point into Downtown."
For more information on The Gateway Mural visit milwaukeedowntown.com.
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.