Friday, July 5, 2013


Most modern commercial construction involves steel and glass facades.  But 100 years ago, brick was a standard surface.  And because Milwaukee has a plethora of late 19th and early 20th century construction, brick walls are commonplace, particularly in the older industrial areas.  Given my penchants for texture and for things old, I find myself almost unnaturally attracted to brickwork.  Here are some examples.

I took this first shot in the early morning and the light was skimming horizontally across the bricks, emphasizing their three-dimensional texture.  I like it.

It looks like this wall was basically slapped into place.  I could have done a better job myself.  Given the wall's rough character, it's hard to believe this was originally intended as an exterior wall.  This wall was adjacent to what is now a parking lot, and it is my guess is that it originally abutted another building that has since been razed.

Here, on the other hand, are a couple of examples of brickwork that is much more intentionally decorative.

And here is a brick wall that combines both elements--a bit of ornateness above, or least a regularity of quality at the level of, the window but a real slapdash quality in the brickwork higher on the wall.  It's as if an amateur took over once the brickwork got above the level of the window.

I took the shot below for the very faint graffiti visible on the surface of the bricks, as well as for the handsome variety of colors that the bricks feature.

OK, in the next shot I was really more interested in the drainpipe than in the bricks, but they did provide a nice background that contrasted nicely with the blue color of the pipe..

A lot of brick gets painted at some point, as in the following shot outside a bar on Milwaukee's South Side.

Pretty amateurish, but it gets its point across.

And in the following case the paint was clearly not decorative.  Probably served to cover up some unwanted defacement.  However, I very much liked the overall effect, including the darker color toward the bottom (probably just grime).  The drainpipe served as point of interest.

Admittedly, in the following shot my primary interest was the hinge, not the brickwork, but I liked that the image incorporated three different "textures."

Perhaps something similar could be said for the following two shots, both of the same general composition.  I was attracted by what appears to be the bricklayer's practical solution to a problem he was confronting.

The surface in the lower left corner was actually a preexisting concrete structure that happened to be at a level slightly lower than the layer of bricks to the right.  The solution appears to have been to wedge in a trapezoidal piece of brick at an angle to bring it up to level of bricks to the right.  By a couple of layers further up, he had managed to have the bricks on the left catch up to those on the right.  In the end, I liked these shots for their colors as well as for the variety of textures that the different surfaces feature.


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