Our Public Art project will be on display starting the week of June 25th! Our theme this year was “Portals to the Past, Portals to the Future."

Artists created their portals to hang on the light posts in the downtown area during the summer months.

Click here for a list of all the public art portals and locations

Click here to learn more about the project & our sponsors

Strive On Mobile App

Some of our portal artists participated and shared the story of their piece! That information is displayed on the Whitewater Strive On Mobile App which can be downloaded at the App store and on Google Play. Strive On utilizes the GPS on smartphones and will take individuals on a walking tour of the portals. The annual public art project aims to provide a fun way for businesses, individuals, families and friends to participate in a fun and educational experience.

We thank you for having the courage to create!
Whitewater Arts Alliance Board Members

18 Public art Project pieces tile.jpg

Registration Form

Artist Instructions: Design Criteria

  • Make your portal creative, whimsical, artistic, colorful, and fun! What is your favorite scene in Whitewater? Birds? Church steeples? Parks? Buildings? Share your vision!

  • Please, no direct label advertising or logos of products.

  • This is a public display; finished works must be appropriate for all audiences.

  • The Whitewater Arts Alliance Public Art Committee reserves the right of refusal should a finished window fail to meet the guidelines of the design committee.

  • Please paint a “frame or portal” around both sides of your window.

Hanging Information

  • The windows will be hung with fasteners through the pre-­drilled holes. Do NOT fill or cover these holes.

Construction Information

  • The windows are made of plywood. Be sure ALL the surfaces are painted and all attachments are sealed (this includes edges!) The windows will be outdoors all summer.

  • Be sure all adhesives and surface finishes are waterproof and fade-­‐resistant. Use weather-­‐resistant glue (e.g., Gorilla Glue) for securing treatments.

  • You can add to or subtract from the window; just stay within the size limits (below) and do not change the hanging elements.

  • To be hung, the total weight of the finished window cannot exceed 20 pounds.

  • All surfaces exposed must be included in the design.

  • All windows must have a weatherproof finish. Apply a commercially available sealant OR we are seeking a local business that might clear coat the windows. If we are able to do this, we will contact everyone well before the windows are due to be turned in. When your window is completely finished, you can bring it to the Cultural Arts Center along with the form on the other side of the paper.

General Information

  • Any repairs to the art that may be required are the responsibility of the artist. WAA will notify the artist if repairs are needed during the exhibit.

  • Finished works will be displayed between May and September.

  • When the windows are taken down, they may be picked up at the CAC by the artists.

  • The windows are the property of the Whitewater Arts Alliance. The WAA reserves ALL rights to their use(s).


  • EXTENDED TO: June 17, 2019 – Finished windows and attached information sheet due at the Cultural Arts Center.

Contact Information:
Mary Nevicosi 608-­‐883-­‐2000

If for any reason you cannot complete your window, please notify Mary Nevicosi ASAP so that other arrangements can be made to complete the piece. All windows need to be included in the summer display!

The Birge Fountain

Public Art - Birge Fountain.png

The Birge Fountain was donated to the City of Whitewater in 1903 by Julius Birge who in 1839 had become the first child born to European settlers in Walworth County. The fountain was made by the J.W. Fiske Company of New York and consisted of a cast iron base and five figures made of zinc and painted to look like bronze. In 1983 the theft of one of cherubs and dolphins prompted a refurbishment which resulted in the recasting in

bronze of the four cherubs on dolphins by UW-Whitewater Professor James Wenkle. The "lost wax" technique was used and four new bronze pieces were then painted white to match the remainder of the statue. The fountain was vandalized in 1998 leading to the eventual recasting of the Maid of the Mist in bronze by Fort Atkinson artist Jerry Sawyer. In 2001 the five bronze figures were reinstalled and the remaining parts of the fountain were painted in bronze tones to match and regain the original appearance of 100 years ago. A trust fund was also established to provide for the fountain's future needs.

Prairie Tillers Mural

mural 400x300.png

In 1980, Caryl Yasko created a tribute to the Kettle Moraine. The elements of the mural celebrate the courage and perseverance of our city founders while respecting our unique Kettle Moraine geography with its rolling hills and prairies, and the native Americans who held this land sacred for centuries.

The figures on the right side of the mural depict three time periods in history: the tribal era, the early settlers and the people of the present - us - working hard to make history by turning the water wheel to extract the power to build a dream. The figures on the left represent future generations who will take and use what we have to continue the dream. These figures are unformed and undefined to remind us that the future can be shaped by us, by the decisions and choices we make today.

The large circle in the center of the composition represents a millwheel. Early Whitewater settlers depended on water power to mill lumber, paper and grain. The first such mill, built by Dr. Trippe in 1839, was in continual use until 1963 and eventually razed in 1972. The wheel is painted with decorative symbols of Whitewater's accomplishments in agriculture, education, tourism, retail business, manufacturing and milling. The Territorial Oak which still stands at the intersection of Franklin and Main, forms the center of the waterwheel. That great old Burr Oak is the tree from which Whitewater was originally surveyed.

Other elements symbolize the land on which this town was built, the waving prairie from delicate spring to flaming autumn. Prairie violet, shooting stars, pasque flowers, blue lupine, prairie smoke, yellow coneflowers and prairie dock are some of the flowers depicted. The blazing colors of autumn merge into the flames of the annual prairie burnings and the historic fires of Whitewater.

If we took a giant cake knife and sliced a hill of the Kettle Moraine, what might we see? The hand-molded sculpture at the base of the mural sits on a limestone bedrock wall and represents the hills and kettles shaped by the glaciers. The rusted iron machine parts, which are integrated into the concrete relief, symbolize the hard work of the farmers to tame the wild prairie and establish an agricultural area. Members of the community brought metal treasures from their yards and farms to embed in the sculpture. Potawatomi and Winnebago fabric designs influence other portions of the sculptural relief.

When first painted in 1980, Prairie Tillers celebrated the spirit of Whitewater. In return, the mural was celebrated throughout the world. Artists and writers came to Whitewater to photograph and write about the mural and to publish its story in books. People can read about Prairie Tillers in the libraries of our cities. The mural tells the Whitewater story. It was designed with the unique ideas and the history of the people in this town and can exist nowhere else. Unfortunately, by 1989, the mural was lost due to unexpected problems with the brick wall. The loss was deeply regretted by the community and immediately citizens began to dream of bringing it back.

With the resurfacing and repainting project of 2004, once again the mural stands ready to greet visitors from around the world and share with them the memories of the past and the hopes for the future.


Cravath Lake Arch

Downtown 015.jpg

The sculpture depicts two cityscapes and fourteen three-dimensional models of places and things important in the history of Whitewater. The models, their significance and the sponsor of each model are identified in plaques at the base of the arch. The arch is made of steel and was fabricated by Charles Scharine of the Scharine Group working from Lueck's sculptures. The arch was a community project with community donated funding and materials and was erected in 2008.