A book, a goodbye and a letter to Guido

27 Mar, 2014

by Molly Snyder

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Last night was the official release of the book created by resident artists Stephanie Barenz and I. Called “The Carriers,” the book features 28 of Steph’s gorgeous paintings and the stories I wrote about each. It is available at the Pfister Hotel gift shop.

The evening was also a farewell party for Stephanie who will finish her year as the Pfister artist this weekend. Sculptor Niki Johnson was selected as the new artist last month and will move into the gallery space on Tuesday.

Stephanie also unveiled her legacy painting, “What Brings You Here?,” which is a gift to the hotel.

I was warmed by the people who attended last night’s event including old friends, new friends, professional connections and family members from near and far.

During last night’s event, I read a few passages from the book, and I also wrote a letter to Guido Pfister, who envisioned the hotel in the late 1800s. The hotel passed away before the Pfister Hotel was completed, but his personal love for and commitment to art was built into the groundwork and more than 120 years later continues to be a part of the hotel’s culture through programs like the Artist in Residence and the Pfister Narrator.

I’m not sure where to send this letter, but I felt compelled to write it. Perhaps I shall release it to the lake this weekend.

Dear Guido,

It’s me, Molly – the 6th writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel. We met this summer in the cemetery. I am happy you are resting in such a beautiful place. I hope you weren’t allergic to the flowers.

Guido, I feel compelled to write this letter because I wanted to thank you. You, of course, were a business man, and one who also craved the visual reward of art as well as the comfort of words. And so, you created this opulent structure that, more than a 120 years later, still celebrates both.

Tonight, your hotel is hosting a farewell party for Stephanie, who, as you probably know, served as the artist in residence for the past year. Stephanie is a storyteller like I am, but her tales unfurl across canvasses in images so full of life and beauty they’d slow a shooting star for the chance at a second look.

And it’s a party for me, too. I have never had a going away party before. I usually prefer to stay.

This past year, I have met so many fascinating people here, from 90-year-old newlyweds to a man who watched his family die in a war. I have daydreamed beneath the chandeliers, kissed in the elevators and toasted the lions with cups of cheer. 

But most of all, humbly and with great honor, I have attempted to unearth the words to describe the life inside this splendid space of resting guests sharing secrets with soft pillows and a staff who blooms on even the grayest of days.

Guido, on this crazy elevator ride of life, I have learned somewhere between floor 12 and 14 that that if you must say goodbye, it should be done with cake – yes, there is cake here tonight – and that the very best experiences leave you unable to snap shut your suitcase because it’s overpacked with memories, gratitude … and the little soaps you swiped from the hotel bathroom. 

Love. Art. Salve.

Molly

Molly & Stephanie. For always.

Molly & Stephanie. For always.

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About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at OnMilwaukee.com, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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