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New Harbor District mural depicts importance of Milwaukee River wildlife

Posted at 12:36 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 18:37:41-04

MILWAUKEE — A new mural is coming to South Water St. in the Harbor District. Rochester artist Justin Suarez is painting a mural depicting Milwaukee River wildlife.

The mural is part of a series of art and identity projects by Business Improvement District 51 and Harbor District, Inc. meant to enliven and activate Milwaukee’s industrial working waterfront.

The mural highlights species that are returning to the river since efforts have been made to improve the overall health of the water.

Suarez worked with scientists at the UWM Freshwater Institute to identify which specific species to paint. The mural will include a beaver, otter, and a Belted Kingfisher.

“I hope people reflect on all the efforts that have been made to clean up Lake Michigan as well as the river here,” said Suarez.

Suarez is no stranger to painting large-scale murals. For more than eighteen years he has traveled throughout the United States painting murals and focusing on nature.

“I started spray painting on things that didn’t belong to me when I was 17 and over many years that journey has led me to do a lot of large-scale public art,” said Suarez.

The artist hopes as people walk by and explore the city, they are reminded by the importance of these animal species.

“Even though the city is on the river the ecology and animals that live here are a really important part of the ecosystem...more important than we are in a lot of ways,” said Suarez.

This project is supported by several Harbor District partners: Elementis LTP, Inc. Wallpapered City, Harbor District, Inc., and Wisconsin Lift Truck.

You can follow Suarez’s work on Instagram @aerosolkingdom at or click here to visit his website.

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