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In the Public Eye: 5 Must-See Murals in Janesville, WI

Janesville's art is on display for all to enjoy in the greater Madison Region.

By Rebecca Treon on September 23, 2022

A mural of Black Hawk, a Sauk American Indian painted by Jeff Henriquez, in downtown Janesville, part of the Greater Madison Region.
Nathan Lambrecht

Janesville’s community spirit is on display through the public art around town. From commemorating significant events and capturing history, art is here to inspire viewers and add a touch of whimsy. Dozens of murals, monuments, museums, sculptures and historical markers are scattered throughout town for viewers to see (or to take a selfie on a scavenger hunt!). Without further ado, here are five of Janesville’s must-see pieces of public art.

1. The Butterfly Mural

Milwaukee Street is full of murals, and this one is at the west end. Located on the side of Crazy Joe’s Best Deal Furniture at Milwaukee and Jackson streets, this mural by Janesville local Val Saxer features the metamorphosis of a butterfly from caterpillar to chrysalis and emerging from its cocoon as a butterfly ready to spread its wings.

The Bright Futures mural on the Boys and Girls Club in Janesville, part of the Greater Madison Region.
Nathan Lambrecht

2. Bright Futures Mural

A newer addition to Janesville’s mural collection, this mural includes themes of children, education, sports, nature and dreams of the future. Painted by James Richter in 2021, this inspiring mural can be found on the side of the Boys & Girls Club/YMCA building on West Court Street.

3. Memorial in Firehouse Park

The attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, will remain in our nation’s history forever. Janesville’s 9/11 Memorial in Firehouse Park honors the hundreds of firefighters, police officers and paramedics who lost their lives that day. A concrete obelisk represents the twin towers. In addition, a steel beam from the site branching off the sculpture points toward New York.

The 16-foot tall Bessie the Cow sculpture in Janesville, partner of the Greater Madison Region.

4. Bessie the Cow

First erected in 1966, this one-ton cow-lossus stands 16 feet tall and 20 feet long. Moved from its original site in 2006, this larger-than-life fiberglass bovine is sporting a fresh coat of paint and ready for her closeup. Bessie makes for a fun photo-op in homage to Wisconsin’s rich dairy history.

5. Bicentennial Time Capsule

In 1976, Janesville residents filled a stainless-steel time capsule and placed it in a small stone marker to open 100 years later, in 2076. The granite monument is on North Jackson Street.

If you’d like to learn more about the Madison Region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Madison Region

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