[Professor Emeritus] Marjorie Kreilick listened as a room full of architects, engineers, contractors and politicians – all men, and all opinionated – told her what her murals should look like. They wanted images of industry, cows, breweries, cheese and farming, she recalls.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen, I’m not interested,” she told those gathered to discuss the art for a new Milwaukee State Office Building in 1959. But as she stood to leave, she was offered a chance to speak.
That’s when she shared her vision for a series of 10 murals that would celebrate the Wisconsin landscape and the contributions of the American Indians who first settled here. She won over the testosterone-fueled discussion and spent two years working in Rome on the massive murals, made of rare marble and 24-karat gold.
Heralded in headlines at the time, Kreilick’s mosaics are less known today and possibly in jeopardy as the state plans to sell the aging building at 819 N. 6th St. to private developers. The proceeds of the sale will be used to offset the cost of a new State Office Building elsewhere.