By Mrinal Gokhale
A day after the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship, the “Art of Flavor” mural series was completed.
Desmond Mason, a former Bucks player, created the first mural located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Vliet Avenue, which includes the message “We are better together” along with the Bucks logo and a silhouette of different human heads.
“The mural is based on unity, which is something we’ve been fighting for and working through over the last handful of years,” Mason said. “And beyond that, and we’re looking to put out a message to better our community. At the bottom, it says ‘We are better together’ and I think with last night in the Deer District and the finals and everyone coming together without any issues is what we’re looking to do in society and in general.”
For the other three murals, each artist was given a Jack Daniels flavor to draw inspiration from to depict three diverse communities of Milwaukee: the LGBT community, the Hispanic/Latino community and the African American community.
Tia Richardson, the artist who created a mural on 2377 N. Holton Ave., drew inspiration from Jack Daniels’ Tennessee Honey flavor to capture the essence of Milwaukee’s Black community. For her, honey holds a symbolic value in this case it symbolizes finding the “sweetness” in life and persevering despite experiencing the ups and downs of the city.
“Finding ways to enjoy life through what we create, whether it is music, art, playing a pickup game in the park, going out dancing, are just some ways we create sweetness in life for ourselves,” Richardson said.
She continued, “Honey is natural, and we as Black people are naturally sweet and caring. There’s a richness in who we are as a people, that I found a way to connect naturally to the flow of honey. And the bees, how persistent they are at producing that sweetness as a part of life.”
Richardson hopes that Milwaukee’s Black community will one day “get to fully participate as equal members of society, where one culture is not dominating but all are sharing power equally.”
She has depicted this in the past artwork as well.
“In ‘The Rebirthing of the Earth Mother’, we are integrated into the whole of society. None of the cultures are dominating, and yet they are each unique in their own way and still together, they are more beautiful,” she said. “We can express ourselves in different ways culturally, but we’re all the same on the inside as human beings.”
Richardson has always made it a point to show a lot of activity in the artwork she has done in the past, including this one.
“There’s a lot going on in my art when you look at my images. There’s interaction between people, showing community, adults reading to children, appreciating different cultures and more.”
The mural for the Hispanic community was created by Ruben Alcantar, is located on 8631 S. 6th St., and inspired by the Tennessee Apple flavor. The LGBT community mural is located on 818 S. 2nd St., and completed by Aisha Valentin. Valentin drew inspiration from the Tennessee Fire flavor.
Each artist has also painted Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey barrels which will be auctioned off to benefit the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation.