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The mural “Anything For SELENAS” (2017) by Mauricio Ramirez. The mural is located in Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Mauricio Ramirez. Video by Milwaukee PBS

Concrete meets cubist style in this Milwaukee artist's graffiti

MILWAUKEE — Graffiti is sometimes dismissed as an eyesore, a blight on a building. But for contemporary mural artist Mauricio Ramirez, graffiti is his way to express and celebrate history and cultural identity with pride.

"Union-Frida Y Diego" (2017) by Mauricio Ramirez. The mural is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Mauricio Ramirez

"I chose to be a mural artist because of the impact it has on the population of people, how it has a direct impact," he told Milwaukee PBS' "The Arts Page." "Mural-making is far more impactful than having a painting sit inside a gallery," he added.

His colorful, cubist work appears on buildings around Milwaukee, Chicago, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, transforming walls into public art installations. Ramirez finds inspiration in artists like Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and late Tejano superstar Selena, to historical figures like Milwaukee founders Solomon Juneau and Byron Kilbourn.

"Rise Above" (2018) by Mauricio Ramirez. The mural is located in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Mauricio Ramirez

And it's getting him noticed. One of his recent works honoring legendary jazz guitarist Les Paul hangs inside downtown arena Fiserv Forum as part of the inaugural Milwaukee Bucks Art Collection.

But it's his murals made for and in Latino communities that make him the most proud. He hopes that someday, if young people see his art in their neighborhoods, they would be inspired to do the same.

This report originally appeared on Milwaukee PBS' "The Arts Page."

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