Milwaukee is flourishing with new murals this summer in reflection of the national unrest and the strong communities that demand better. There's also, as you may have heard, a seething pandemic still on the loose, which means many of us are finding safe new ways to entertain ourselves.
Thus, a mural excursion is a fun, meaningful way to spend an hour or two. Grab the kids, your friends and/or your sweetie, and follow this simple route that will lead you past 15 murals on Milwaukee's South Side, grab a cone or tacos along the way, and suddenly you have a nice little afternoon happening.
OnMilwaukee will create routes for other neighborhoods with myriad murals in the near future. For now, the historic and artistic South Side awaits you.
South Side Mural Route:
- Start at Purple Door Ice Cream, 205 S. 2nd St. – or anywhere on the north end of Second Street in Walker's Point – and drive south towards the Rockwell Automation Clock Tower (aka the Polish Moon). Perhaps grab a cone or cup for the road.
- On the right / west side of the street, notice three murals: "Honor Difference" is on the side of Var Gallery. Commissioned by 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, it makes a statement about the importance of embracing diversity. Read more about this mural here.
- A block later, a school of koi fish created by street artist Jeremy Novy swims on the side of the building housing the charming and intimate cocktail lounge, The Tin Widow. Novy has spray painted thousands of fish (on commission / with permission) on Milwaukee public and private sidewalks and buildings over the past five years. Watch Novy create a couple of koi here (or watch this later, after your mural excursion):
- Don't blink or you'll miss the "Bienvenidos Walker's Point" mural just to the south, also on a north-facing wall. The mural was created by artist Chacho Lopez and friends. Get the low down here.
- Take a left at the lights on National Avenue.
- Take a left on First Street.
- Take a left on Bruce Street and cross Second Street.
- Take a right on Third Street, at the Anondyne Coffee shop (caffeine, anyone?) and check out the "Empowering the Future" mural by Milwaukee youth group TRUE Skool on the side of the Anodyne building.
- Hang a left on Virginia Street (first street after the mural) and then another left onto Fifth Street.
- There's a mural featuring a wooden half-barrel and hop vines on the side of MobCraft Brewery (remember: it's 5 o'clock somewhere).
- Keep rolling down Fifth and on your right, you can't miss the massive Selena mural honoring the late, beloved pop artist Selena Quintanilla-Pérez who was murdered by a fan in 1995. The prolific and talented Mauricio Ramirez created this mural and you can read more about it here.
- Keep driving down Fifth Street, but direct your attention to the left / east side of the road. There's a mural on the facade of The Laughing Tap, Milwaukee's only permanent comedy club. (If you want to pull over and peek through the glass doors you'll be treated to a delightful rubber chicken mural on the inside wall.)
- And right next door is the massive Hamburger Mary's mural on the bar and restaurant's south-facing wall that was created by the now-defunct Walker's Point Creative Collective during the inaugural 5th Street Festival in 2017.
- Take a right on National Avenue. You are going to take a right very soon into the alley, but first, can you see the Dracula mural across the street on your left? It was commissioned by the Milwaukee Ballet to promote its 50th season in 2018, during which "Dracula" was one of the ballets performed by the company.
- Anyway, take a RIGHT into the alley and drive past Mr. P's Tires sign and cross Pierce Street, staying in the alley for another block.
- This stretch of alley has many murals, starting with a slightly obscured mural on the purple building on your left. This mural is inside Zocalo, the city's first food truck park, and a great place to stop for eats. Otherwise, keep driving down the alley and on your right, you can't miss the collection of murals created by Chaco Lopez, Andre Cobert and friends to celebrate the opening of the pop-up soccer bar, Nomad Nacional, that took over the iconic space and former home of La Fuente Mexican restaurant in 2018.
- Exit the alley and take a left on Bruce Street. Pull into the Conejito's parking lot on your right to take in the details of the "Unity" mural created earlier this month by Chacho Lopez, Julian Correa, Adam Correa, Jon Murray, Oscar Lopez, Leonard Lopez, Andre Colbert, Jon Bartels, Chris Burke and Ben Davison.
Watch the creation of the "Unity" mural here:
- Exit the parking lot to your right, heading toward 6th Street, where you will take a left. Do not miss the wee "Baby Yoda" mural, painted by artist Michael Cerda, on the north-facing wall of the Hotel Madrid.
- You are now heading toward the South Side to check out two more extraordinary murals.
- At the intersection of 6th Street and Washington Street note the nine painted pillars under the freeway. Last summer, artist Melanie Ariens and a team of students from the United Community Center's Acosta Middle School painted the murals titled "Somos Agua."
- Keep driving down Sixth Street for a couple of miles, and just before the Basilica of St. Josephat, look to your right and take in the splendor of Mauricio Ramirez's mural honoring health care workers during the current COVID crisis. Ramirez created this mural on the corner of 6th Street and Lincoln Avenue in April of 2020.
- Right after the mural, at Lincoln Street, take a right and then quickly on your right Ramirez has a second mural he created with Chacho Lopez called "Virgen de Guadalupe," a 30-feet-by-15-feet mural on a building at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Thus concludes our South Side mural excursion. Feel free to stop off at Kosciuszko Park just up ahead for more art in the park, or go on your merry way. Stay tuned for more mural excursions from OnMilwaukee in the near future.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.