Stealth Public Sculpture In Milwaukee County’s Lake Park!

I am going to write about something a little bit different today. For a number of years I have admired a number of sculptures in Milwaukee’s Lake Park that are situated along the west side of Lincoln Memorial Drive. I have always been captivated by these and wondered where they came from but only caught quick glimpses as I passed by in my car.

So this past Friday afternoon, I had some spare time and went to visit them and I have photos here of three installations…in the back of my mind there is a fourth one…but I couldn’t find another on Friday.

These pieces are installed in the environment. They appear to be constructed of water washed stone, most likely harvested from the shore of Lake Michigan just across the street. These stones are mounted on wire rods that appear to be brass or bronze from a distance. I didn’t approach too closely to avoid disturbing the sites. But the rods elevate the stones and rocks to define their shapes, their relationships and their presence three dimensionally. And the other ends are anchored in dead logs and stumps to balance and enhance the organic nature of the piece and make it one with the site. These are quite amazing and evocative sculptures.

So here are a few photos. As I said, I didn’t get close for a number of reasons. One is on private property and I didn’t want to disturb the sites of the other two since they are in wild swaths of parkland along the road.

Now I have been aware of this first one for some years and it is probably the most visible. It is just off Lincoln Memorial Drive across from the lagoon and maybe a quarter mile north of the Milwaukee Art Museum/War Memorial building. The contrast in stone and wood and their resilient textures are really comforting in a way but that sense of discovering it rough in nature is quite a rewarding feeling. The three stones here give the appearance that they may be water eroded pieces of concrete. That wouldn’t be difficult to find along the land fill portions of the lake shore.

© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman

Now this second one I was also aware of for some time as well but had forgotten about it. This one is certainly made of natural water washed stones mounted on metal rods and embedded in a tree stump that had grown out of a Lannon stone retaining wall along the drive. It came back into focus for me when the county parks crew cleared some brush and vines from the retaining wall a few weeks ago. This one is so simply elegant and precious and the site is perfect! And it is a little harder to notice at first because it is above eye level for most drivers. I had first noticed it because I was already enthralled with the Lannon stone walls along this section of the roadway. There are two similar wall outcroppings there…between the staircase from the Lake Park pavilion down to the lake level and the north end of Bradford Beach…this piece is on the southern outcropping. Hopefully these photos will do the piece justice. Originally I was disappointed that it was an overcast day but that was perfect…since I was facing west and these would have been blindingly back-lit if the sun were about.

© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman

Now this third one may have been around as long as the first two but I only became aware of it this fall. When I was driving home from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee there was often a flock of turkeys feeding along the drive just below this installation or just south of it so as I watched for the turkeys each day I spotted this sculpture. It is bigger and grander than the others but just as precious and as filled with wonderment. Now it is on private property just inside a fence and half way up the bluff to North Terrace Avenue. The actual site is immediately north of the lake level gardens for the Villa Terrace Museum (the white building on the left atop the bluff).

Yes this is a grander installation and spans the length of the trunk of a deceased and fallen tree. And again at least some of the rocks used appear to be lake eroded concrete pieces. So I have added a couple of overall shots and then a close up the total piece shown in thirds, left to right.

© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman
© 2021 Ed Heinzelman

If you go to visit these incredibly beautiful works of art, please please please, be respectful of the work and the environment. And be careful where you are walking or you may go home with some burdock friends adorning your jeans.

And if any of you know the artist, please share that information in the comments section so that I can properly attribute these here. And if you are aware of other ones in the park, please leave the locations in the comments because I would like to go see them in the wild!

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4 Replies to “Stealth Public Sculpture In Milwaukee County’s Lake Park!”

  1. Thanks for posting these photos – I’ve never noticed them so will have to be more observant. They are COOL!!

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