Exciting things are happening on an otherwise ordinary section of parkway along the Kinnickinnic River in Pulaski Park.
Gabriela Riveros, a Milwaukee-based illustrator, has created an art installation through the Watermarks project, a collaboration among three long-time partners — Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and KK River Neighbors in Action — as well as Haggerty Museum of Art.
Riveros, who grew up in Milwaukee and attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, teamed up with Patrick Elliott, project manager at MMSD, to implement the project. Elliott is overseeing part of the KK River revitalization. MMSD is replacing the river’s concrete banks with a wider, more natural channel to considerably lower flood risks and enhance the river’s environment.
The public art installation will be up for five years, during the revitalization project. Riveros’ art installation was chosen by KK neighbors at a community event. Riveros said she enjoys working with mythology and cultural identity, and wanted to represent the neighborhood through illustrations of river deities. As different immigrants moved into the neighborhood throughout Milwaukee history, they brought their river gods with them. With the installation, they live together and protect the river, she said.
Riveros said she is thrilled that the Sixteenth Street community was so receptive to her ideas. “As a Latina artist, representing a mostly Latino neighborhood with my art feels good,” she added.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article inadvertently omitted KK River Neighbors in Action. We apologize for the error.