Volunteers sought to complete the final phase of the mixed-media bricolage mural


Community groups are seeking volunteers to complete the final phase of the mixed-media bricolage mural on the walls of the pedestrian underpass near the Edgebrook Metra station.

The mural, which is about 325 feet long, is believed to be the largest outdoor bricolage work on the Northwest Side and possibly in the city, project organizer Jac Charlier said. It consists of tile and other materials.

The mural features tributes to the nature and wildlife in the area, the community’s history, its Native-American heritage and the "Hiawatha" passenger train that traveled through Edgebrook about 70 years ago.

Work on the east and west walls of the underpass was completed in the past 2 years, and work on the middle walls is scheduled for this summer, Charlier said.

Charlier said that the design on the middle walls will include golden tile in honor of the golden stake that was once used to mark where east and west rail lines came together. He said that it also will feature a depiction of the "Hiawatha belt," which symbolizes tribal leader Hiawatha’s efforts to unite several tribes.

The golden stake and belt are appropriate images for the mural because the underpass marks a connecting point for pedestrians and bicyclists between the neighborhoods of Edgebrook, Wildwood and North Edgebrook, Charlier said.

The underpass was built in 1943 due to concerns about children crossing the railroad tracks, and it has entrances on the west side of the tracks near Lehigh and Hiawatha avenues and on the east side of the tracks near Kinzua and Hiawatha avenues.

The mural project, which is estimated to cost about $155,000, is being funded through local donations and a grant from After School Matters, which pays for 30 teen apprentices to work on each phase of the project. Local artists also are coordinating the mural’s installation with Green Star Movement, a public art group.

Other groups which have worked on the planning and installation of the mural include the Edgebrook Community Association, the North Edgebrook Civic Association, the Wildwood Community Association, the Edgebrook Chamber of Commerce, the Edgebrook Historical Society, the Edgebrook Woman’s Club and the Milwaukee Railroad Historical Association.

Those interested in volunteering for the project are asked to contact Charlier via e-mail at jac.charlier@gmail.com or visit the connection project’s Facebook page.