Last week, artist Greg Gossel began work on the 10,000-square-foot mural on the south wall of the former Schlitz Brewery powerhouse on North 2nd Street, near Cherry, at Schlitz Park.
Gossel, 38 – Wisconsin born and raised – will paint an 80-x120-foot work that celebrates the history of the Schlitz site. The mural will include a beer glass, a beer truck, elements of the Schlitz Park complex and a motorcyclist, to honor the city’s industrial history, too.
Gossel is also the artist who painted the huge “Greetings from Milwaukee” mural in the Deer District beer garden and the long “Brick by Brick” mural along the Juneau Avenue wall of the Fiserv Forum.
Gossel began by using a digital projector to get the design up onto the wall so he could sketch the outline with light-colored aerosol paint.
He began in the top left corner and worked his way down in vertical sections over the course of a few days.
The whole job is expected to take 200-250 hours, working seven days a week, 10-12 hours each day. He has a team of assistants that includes his brother Jacob Gossel, Milwaukee resident Celena Allen, and Chicago artist Joseph Renda.
They will use about 80-100 gallons of 10 different acrylic paint colors, as well as dozens of brushes and rollers, over the course of the rest of the month to complete mural, which is slowly unfolding more and more each day.
“It’s been going great,” says Gossel. “Overall, quite smoothly to this point, actually a bit ahead of schedule.
“One of the unique elements of working on such a large scale is how abstracted the design gets when you’re painting it on the wall, as even the smallest dots are quite large up close. So it’s a continues process of working up close, then assessing progress from afar.”
The Schlitz mural will be Gossel’s third in Milwaukee. He also has had work on view or murals painted in Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, as well as in London, Copenhagen and Kyoto.
This work was commissioned by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, the Downtown Placemaking Task Force and Schlitz Park, and is part of a series of upgrades at the 32-acre Schlitz Park since it was purchased by Creslight Capital in 2019.
“This highly-visible mural will share a collective view of what makes Milwaukee Famous while honoring the city’s rich brewing heritage, one that builds on the traditions the Grunau and Sampson families meticulously embraced and preserved as the campus’ original developers,” said Crestlight founder John Coury.
“The mural really is a celebration of Schlitz Park and the city,” says Gossel. “My goal was to feature elements from Schlitz Park and the Riverwalk that celebrate the area and city; doing so in a way that’s both vintage and contemporary.
“The color palette is a big part of that, it’s bright and primary and fresh, but also retains a weathered and vintage feel. I also gravitate towards bold graphic elements throughout my career, so featuring a prominent type element paired with a globe inspired by the original Schlitz logo and a small cast of elements from the park was a perfect fit.”
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.