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Artist spray paints salute to health care workers in pandemic

"It's championing our nurses and our health care workers that are battling on the front lines." artist Mauricio Ramirez said.

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At the corner of South 6th Street and West Lincoln Avenue in South Milwaukee, artist Mauricio Ramirez answered a call: make something positive from the pandemic.

"It was overwhelming with all the crazy stuff I was hearing on the news; and how the nurses and health care workers were just battling it out," Ramirez said. "I kind of just wanted to do something to uplift everyone's spirit."

The 31-year-old said he spent two days and used 150 colors of paint to fill a space 15 feet high and 30 feet wide to spray paint a salute to a special group.

"It's championing our nurses and our health care workers that are battling on the front lines where normally you would see a famous musician or a famous celebrity. I kind of substituted the celebrity to the people that are really important in today's lives," he said.

The piece is titled "Frontline Heroes."

Ramirez said he got permission from the building's owner to paint the praying health care worker on the wall which sits across the street from the Basilica of St. Josaphat.

"It's almost like we're praying for all of this to be over and praying for everyone suffering at this moment," he said.

Not only is it a nod to the health care industry, Ramirez who has roots in Milwaukee and Mexico, added images of flags to salute Hispanic heritage.

"Location has a lot to do with it," he said of choosing the city's south side for the piece.

"The community kind of dictates what, essentially, will go up on the wall and I will translate that into my artistic vision and go ahead and have a go at it."

On Ramirez's Instagram account, users are asked to tag health care workers they know.

The spotlight on the piece grew so much, The New York Times featured Ramirez's piece in the May 1 article, Street Art Confronts the Pandemic.

"It's unbelievable," he said, "It shows that I don't want them to go unappreciated."