By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 08, 2022 at 11:03 AM

In the past, I've written about the great miniature buildings created by Philadelphia artist Kambel Smith.

Last year, he shared photos of a six-foot-tall cardboard replica of the old Lake Front Depot that long graced the Milwaukee lakefront, before being demolished in the late 1960s.

city hall
(PHOTO: Kambel Smith)

Smith, born in 1986, has made numerous large-scale models out of materials like cardboard, foamcore, paint, tape and charcoal, and his work has been shown in galleries.

"I'm currently preparing for an art show in Wisconsin which will include Lake Front Depot, Milwaukee City Hall and various other models," he told us at the time.

Now, that show has arrived at The Green Gallery, 1500 N. Farwell Ave.

"Milwaukee Recycled," on view through March 19, includes eight scultpures made of recycled materials that depict Milwaukee-area landmarks, including Mary Nohl House, a Frank Lloyd Wright American System-Built Home from Burnham Block, City Hall, the Chicago and North Western Railroad's Lake Front Depot, the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, North Point Water Tower, North Point Lighthouse and a Wadham’s Pagoda service station.

"I find Kambel's intense focus transforming discarded materials transcendent," says gallery owner John Riepenhoff. "His sculptural use of recycled cardboard to make recognizable impressions of architecture is painterly in form, and the experience of walking amongst the buildings in the gallery is empowering for the viewer.

"I've never taken a helicopter tour of Milwaukee architecture guided by an artist, but this show is what I imagine that feels like that. I think his work is fun to experience, technically impressive, and offers a powerful portrait of Milwaukee through the eyes of a visionary artist."

Smith was in Milwaukee for the opening last weekend and got to see the real-life buildings he crafted 900 miles away.


"We had a great visit," Smith says. "It was amazing to look out of our hotel room window at the Saint Kate hotel and see Milwaukee City Hall, I guess it was luck that our room faced the very middle of the building. We also got to see the  North Point Water Tower and we drove by Calatrava.

"The gallery is great the set up was beautiful, we appreciate Milwaukee and the kindness we received. Oh, and Iron Grate BBQ ribs were delicious!"

Smith, who has also exhibited his work at galleries in Atlanta, New York, London and Philadelphia, has also released NFTs of the sculptures.


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.