The “emptiness” next to Bethel Baptist Church disappeared on October 27, 2012, when the Kindred Ties bus shelter, unceremoniously reappeared on the site it inhabited for the past six years.
Evelyn Patricia Terry, creator of Kindred Ties, offered her perspective on its importance as a public art piece that 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,” Terry said.
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 17, 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 to solve the mystery. She eventually tracked it down through Sandy Kellner, Chief Operating Officer of the Milwaukee County Transit System.
Kellner explained that, hit by a car, Kindred Ties’ damaged frame forced immediate removal. This happened about Saint Patrick’s Day. In partial view to passersby, it rested in MCTS’ back lot 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 said: “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 appreciated. Offering unsolicited comments during installation, several transit users said, to me, that they were pleasantly surprised to have such a nice and different 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 manifest Kindred Ties.”