The Rhythms of Water, Land, and Sky

420 S 1st St Milwaukee

Milwaukee Public Art Walking Tour/The Rhythms of Water, Land, and Sky
VAMONDE
Written By VAMONDE

Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions

The Rhythms of Water, Land, and Sky

The Menomonee River Valley, which today is the city of Milwaukee, has been home to human settlements for an estimated 10,000 years. The first inhabitants of the lush and fertile river valley were the Menonomee, Fox, Mascouten, Potawatami, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk nations. Europeans did not arrive on the scene until the 17th century, and the city itself was founded as recently as 1846.

The mural located on the loading dock of Studio 420b at 420 S 1st Street is a solemn remembrance to honor the people who considered the Menomonee River Valley as part of their sacred land. Titled, “The Rhythms of Water, Land, and Sky,” it depicts a native man wearing a ceremonial dress, beneath a starry night sky while the phases of the moon outline the top panel. The concept of time is communicated through the nuance of the phases of the moon. Native American cultures followed the lunar months to track the passage of time through a system connected to the natural environment.

Artist Mark David Gray captures the eternal qualities of a sacred environment through his somber backdrop while inciting the imagination with the vibrancy of dual horizontal lines crossing the entire piece. It is as if he is painting a landscape of time, to illustrate how we cannot escape the past which will inevitably create a future. Gray specializes in designing a narrative of hidden dramas through his art, and his gallery is behind the painted door of the loading dock.

Cover image credit: Michael Vosoughi via Pixabay

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The Rhythms of Water, Land, and Sky

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