Speakeasy murals: SHANGHAI

Wallpapered City’s Stacey Williams-Ng has been commissioned to design the interior of a new speakeasy, located behind the new Crossroads Collective food hall and accessed only from—you guessed it—OMG—Black Cat Alley!

This concept plays off of the cinematic history of the Oriental Theatre, which was designed in the 1920s, and whose wall comprises 1/2 of the Black Cat Alley. Because the speakeasy is located inside a part of what used to be a dark little space inside the old historic theatre, the architects and designers imagined a false and fun history of an old storage room, perhaps owned by a 1930s movie fan who was in love with movies set in Shanghai…

Stacey created a handpainted mural with Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express, and then collaged over it in movie and local Milwaukee ephemera, pasting it directly onto the wall in chronological order, base to top, as through someone started gluing showgirls and movie starlets onto the mural in 1930 and just kept adding to it over the decades. The end result appears to be a 50-year-old collection of a movie madman, obsessed with Shanghai.


The second mural in the space, also hand-painted by Williams-Ng, is a copy of a classic 1930s glamour advertisement from Shanghai, prints of which were often collected, this one an ad for aspirin. The copy reads, “pain relief tablets,” and the model holds a little aspirin tablet, like a pearl, in her fingers.

The space was designed by Korb Architects around a concept conceived by Williams-Ng and Korb designer Johnathan Bartol, for client New Land Enterprises.

For more information, read this great sneak peek article by OnMilwaukee >>

All photos courtesy of artist.