North Avenue Public Art Bus Shelter “Kindred Ties” Reinstalled

November 27, 2012

“Kindred Ties” photo before car accident on St Patrick’s Day, March 17. Photo by Avagara, all rights reserved_2011

Milwaukee, Wisconsin  – The “emptiness” next to Bethel Baptist Church disappeared on October 27, 2012, when the Kindred Ties bus shelter unceremoniously reappeared on the site it had inhabited for the past six years. Evelyn Patricia Terry, creator of Kindred Ties, offered her perspective on its importance, explaining that, “Kindred Ties, a public art piece, establishes a sense of place in the African-American community and celebrates nurturing families, spiritual awareness, global knowledge, and educational achievement. Kindred Ties represents our history, culture, values, and what we incessantly speak of – thereby coalescing my ideas, the community’s ideas, and other artists’ ideas to share with the world.”

Located in the busy six points’ intersection of 21st Street, W. Fond du Lac Avenue and W. North Avenue, the bus shelter’s disappearance March 17th bewildered Kindred Ties artists, employees in Seaway Bank across the street, and many concerned community organizers. “What could have happened?” they asked Terry. Although as a public art piece it now belonged to the community, Terry felt invested and set out to solve the mystery. She eventually tracked it down through Sandy Kellner, Chief Operating Officer of the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Damaged “Kindred Ties.” Photo Courtesy of the MCTS.

Kellner explained that a car, around Saint Patrick’s Day, hit Kindred Ties and the damaged frame compelled immediate removal. In partial view to passersby, it rested in the back lot of MCTS on 17th Street near Fond du Lac Avenue. After establishing contact with Dean Amhaus, former Spirit of Milwaukee’s Executive Director and Ed Mordy, Spirit of Milwaukee’s financial consultant, a new bus shelter frame was purchased. Millennium Neighborhood Art Initiative, the original project host, provided restoration funds. The funds permitted the unharmed sixteen colorful welded sculpture images to be successfully transferred to a new bus shelter, and the repaired Kindred Ties to be reunited with embedded bronze plaques at the original site.

After seeing it repaired, Terry stated, “The positive energy that Kindred Ties summoned up for its creation and then for its restoration is extremely gratifying and speaks volumes to Milwaukee’s cooperative leaders. And Kindred Ties is much appreciated. Offering unsolicited comments during installation, several transit users told me that they were pleasantly surprised to have such a nice and unique object in their neighborhood. Many were also surprised to learn that an African-American woman originated the concept and secured funds to hire diverse Milwaukee artists and businesses to create the piece.”

Design and conception of Kindred Ties

In a section of Milwaukee where revitalization plans continue, Kindred Ties juxtaposes contemporary art with Bethel Baptist Church’s German-inspired, Gothic Revival Style architecture. Painted in an assortment of complementary colors, two welded and bent wrought iron linear sculptures occupy the interior and exterior of each of the eight glass panels. The abstract sculptures represent the spiritual universe, a family tree, and a three generation family including a grandfather and granddaughter, a grandmother and grandson, a mother, a father, a son with a book, and a daughter embracing a globe. Bronze plaques in the concrete identify the colorful artwork, share seven positive sayings, and celebrate the artists and others who contributed to the public art piece. The two yellow painted ceiling panels represent the beaming warmth of sunshine symbolizing prosperity and radiant health.

One painted top of “Kindred Ties” bus shelter.


Terry strongly desired to produce public art influenced by many of her colleagues nationally who were doing so. The opportunity came after her friend and sometimes mentor Durga Patel spotted a call-out-to-artists requesting proposals for public art in the Milwaukee community. The application process included selecting a community-based non-profit organization to assist with funding. Terry selected the WAICO/YMCA, in her neighborhood, and was fortunate to work with the YMCA’s Economic Development specialist, Mike Stiehl. Stiehl suggested a bus shelter project.

In 1999, Terry assembled a distinguished team of artists: painter Maxine Banks (originated the “family” theme); illustrator and muralist Ras `Ammar Nsoroma (rendered the drawings); architect Theodore Lipscomb (constructed the model); painter and graphic designer Jerry J. Johnson

Mike Nolte installing “Kindred Ties” plaques in 2008.

(designed project sites and presentations); UW – Milwaukee professor emeritus Narendra Patel (provided consulting); sculptor George Ray McCormick Sr. (apprenticed as welder); sculptor Don Rambadt (welded and provided instruction); writer Fondé Bridges (provided seven sayings from his book 101 Simple Suggestions for Better Living),  and both the Milwaukee County Transit System and Mike Nolte of Vanguard Sculpture Services (provided installation).

Terry stated, “I am just glad it’s back.”

Contact Evelyn Patricia Terry at

A blogling is born…

June 16, 2010

This is Al Ross speaking.  Among other things, I’m a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.  It’s funny, but twenty years ago, I never envisioned that I’d someday be a ‘blogger’; yet, now that I am one, I should get down to blogging….although dyslexia may turn it into ‘globbing’ on occasion.  I find it interesting that someone who doesn’t regularly read blogs would, himself, blog.  You are what you write, I guess.  I find comfort knowing that it’s similar to – and thus as easy as –  writing in a diary or journal – the only difference being entries must be suitable for others to read.  The way I’m going to think of it is that I am a columnist within an electronic newspaper.  With that definition, I can join the ranks of Ed Sullivan, Walter Winchell and Dave Barry.  I’d better toss in Charles Kuralt as well, because he was an idol of mine and I so envied his fortunate assignments.

Now, before you roll your eyes and label me a prima donna – please know that I’m only rambling (which is probably a better word than ‘blog’ to describe my initial participation) – and I believe a person should be allowed to saunter comfortably through his first blog.  None of us rode straight and true the first time we took off the training wheels.  Anyway, I’m very proud to be a part of an impressive entity: Portal Wisconsin.  Just the sound of ‘Portal Wisconsin’ summons pride.  And, yes, I too thought it was ‘Porthole’ Wisconsin when I first heard about it years ago.  Then I realized it was ‘portal’ and the idea of an opening through which to view what’s going on inside Wisconsin sunk in.  I thought it was a great idea.

Now that I’m a small part of it, I think it’s an even greater idea.

My contributions will range from rambles to regional reminders.  I will talk about the people who and places that make Western and Northwestern Wisconsin culturally vital and vibrant.  Since becoming host of Spectrum West on WPR, I’ve met and rubbed elbows with some very impressive folks and functions.

The program is a delight to produce simply because the events, stars and planners are equally delightful.

I’m impressed with the vision shown by so many venues in so many towns – very small to medium/large.

Theaters (if you like to spell yours with an ‘re’ at the end, I apologize) and theater groups; musicians and musical groups; artists and art galleries; publishers, publications, poets and authors – there’s an abundance of these that equals all the other natural abundances we relish and, hopefully, use with respect, here in West Wisconsin.

Suffice it to say I will check in periodically to tell you about some of these things and many of these people – and I will expect to interact along the way with those who read my words.  After all, even though it sounds like the quick, fast end of something (blog!…the ‘g’ landing hard in a messy heap), I don’t believe a blog should be a one-way street.