MILWAUKEE (AP) — That black speck walking precariously out on the Milwaukee Art Museum's giant white wings? That's a painter.
Matt Radmacher, owner of Wisconsin Industrial Painters, and two other painters are touching up 40 rust spots on the museum's Burke Brise Soleil — affectionately called wings — and repainting 72 rusted plates at the base.
This is only the second time the museum's addition, designed by internationally known Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, has needed touching up since it opened in 2001. At the time, it was Calatrava's first completed American project.
The painters started Sept. 29 and are expected to finish by the end of this week.
Calatrava designed a secret passageway with ladders and tunnels to allow maintenance workers access to the base of the moveable wings. Once there, workers can climb a set of steep stairs along the spire to get to the top of the 11-story structure.
"The tunnels and ladders are a little scary if you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights but once you are up there, once you are top of everything, you just forget and it's so beautiful up there," Milwaukee Art Museum spokeswoman Kristin Settle said.
Radmacher did the sanding, priming and painting of the wings. But before he went up there, he jumped up and down to try to pump himself up for the experience. While he works, he is harnessed and attached to the building and communicated with museum officials via two-way radio in order to have them position the wings so he could walk out.
"Where I was standing, if you look up you just see wing sections and down you just see wing sections — you really don't see below you, which kind of made it easier, you know, not as scary," Radmacher said.