A Master and His Admirer

Dr. Jeffery Hollander has had a prolific career in addition to his 30-year tenure as the Pfister Hotel’s Musician-in-Residence. “He is so talented, I love the way he interprets the music. No one else plays like he can.” Natalia will be the first to tell you that he is not your typical lounge pianist. “No other place in Milwaukee has this kind of ambiance.” She has admired his work for the past seven years as a fixture in the Lobby Lounge.  So much so, that she made it into Katie Musolff’s painting of Dr. Hollander that is hanging in the hallway outside of the cafe. Originally from Russia, Natalia is a classical pianist herself, holding a Master’s degree in piano performance. Now, she teaches at MATC and has private students, among other engagements.

Natalia leads me over to the painting to show off her cameo. “I’m the one who looks like I am falling asleep on the couch.” she proudly points out her muted likeness in the strokes on the canvas. “After hearing kids torture the keys all day, I come here and listen to him. This is my mental spa, my therapy.” She softly slips into this happy place as she describes just how affecting his music can be. And quickly, she gravitates back to her seat close to the piano, with a clear view of his hands on the keys. I sneak away and allow her to return to therapy, with my own renewed sense of admiration of Dr. Hollander’s talents.

Natalia, proudly standing next to her likeness in Katie Musolff's painting of Dr. Hollander
Natalia, proudly standing next to her likeness in Katie Musolff’s painting of Dr. Hollander

 

#PrintMKE at The Pfister Hotel

The Pfister, along with the rest of Milwaukee, is exited to welcome the attendees of Print: MKE 2013.  What’s even more exciting, is that this year, Timothy and his friend and fellow artist, Erin Close are participating in their own off campus exhibit, titled Hurry Or Your Ears Won’t See What I’ve Made.

The exhibit, which is in Timothy’s Studio, is open from 7am-9pm daily from March 20th through the 23rd. With a reception on Friday, March 22nd, from 5-9pm.

Erin and Timothy’s official description of the exhibit is as follows

Both Erin and Timothy were raised around people with an absence of vision—Erin with her parents and Timothy with his grandfather. This instilled a heightened awareness of physical presence in them both. The pair has transformed this acuteness in their relationship with materials and tools. The tape of an audiocassette mirrors yarn as the starting point for a potential experience. Through the playing of the tape and the weaving of the yarn a sensory experience is performed. The repetitive function of a slate and stylus for writing Braille echo the marking on a plate in printmaking, both building to a completed sensorial language. Work will be created live throughout the conference. Erin and Timothy invite you to feel with your eyes and listen with your hands.

As Timothy wraps up his time as our Artist-in-Residence we invite you to stop in and experience him, and his work while you can including his Print: MKE 2013 exhibit!  You can find more info on the event on the official Facebook event page.

Stephanie Barenz Named as the Fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence

The Pfister is thrilled to announce that we’ve named Stephanie Barenz as the fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence.  Stephanie will begin her residency on April 1st after our current and fourth Artist, Timothy Westbrook ends his.  Stephanie was chosen by the Pfister’s selection committee made up of community leaders in the arts and other disciplines.  You can learn more about Stephanie at her website, stephaniebarenz.com.

Additionally, finalist Eddie Villanueva finished first in the public round of voting and will receive a solo art show at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel.

Background

“The Pfister is the perfect stage for my work, which deals with how travel affects one’s relationship to place,” said Barenz. “The hotel carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The Victorian art collection, the antiques, and spaces have served as silent witnesses to all of it.”

“Over the course of the year, I plan to create a body of work that will include 20 to 30 paintings. Images of these paintings will be turned into a book and I plan to collaborate with the Pfister Narrator, the hotel’s writer in residence, to write text for the images. I am so looking forward to moving into the studio, starting my project, and getting to know more of the Milwaukee community through my platform at The Pfister.”

Barenz primarily paints and draws on wood panels using a range of media, including acrylics, sumi ink, and pencil. A Milwaukee-area resident for the past two years, she currently works as a full-time artist at Plaid Tuba, the studio of The Pfister’s first Artist in Residence, Reginald Baylor. With extensive experience teaching and studying art, Barenz has taught in Southeast China, studied in Florence, Italy, and completed a one-year residency at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Proposal

“THE CARRIERS”

The Pfister carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The famous Victorian art collection, the antiques, and rooms have served as silent witnesses to all of it. Every day a new story is written and this is where my proposal begins.

The title “The Carriers” is used to describe how I would use images of the hotel’s people and objects to “carry” the memories and stories of the Pfister. For example, I woudl ask guests if I could interview them about where they were coming from, their visit at the Pfister, what they brought with them, and what kind of transportation brought them to Milwaukee. I would then paint an image of their luggage or the train car that they arrived in that is piled high with their stories and memories from our conversation. Our conversation would most likely extend beyond their stay at the hotel and I would work from images they give me.

I would also create works solely based on the hotel’s past and present history. Anything could carry a memory, such as a hotel room or an old chandelier. This playful approach has endless possibilities. I would turn the Victorian collection and the hotel archives for imagery and inspiration.

Over the course of a year I would like to create an entire body of work entitled “The Carriers” that would include 20 to 30 paintings. I would turn these images into an illustrated book and hopefully collaborate with the Pfister resident journalist and storyteller to write some text for the images.

Work Samples

Baring it All

As an artist, putting your work out there can be as scary as standing on stage naked in front of a crowded auditorium. After all, as a writer, most of my work is done in private and a great deal of it formulates quietly in my own head. Luckily, there are groups in Milwaukee like the  Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) who recognize that creativity can sometimes be an isolating activity.

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I met MARN’s Operations Director Maggie Sasso at Gallery Night and convinced her that the Pfister could be a creative wellspring for writers involved with MARN. And just like that, the next monthly meeting of Writer’s Wednesday took place at the Pfister.

Writer’s Wednesday is group of people from Milwaukee’s literary community that “share their work and engage in critical discourse in a creatively nurturing environment.” Nurturing is the key word there. The delightful artist and storyteller Anja Notanja Seiger leads the group and provides thoughtful and constructive feedback, while making sure that all feel at ease and supported when sharing work.

Frog-throated and shaky-kneed, I shared an unpublished story, along with some of my favorite excerpts from Pfister stories. After each compliment, I countered with a “Yes, but do you think I need more of this…or that?”  To my relief, the other creative professionals in the room assured me I was being too critical of myself. And this is where the creative process really begins, with discourse and editing. This is what writers like me crave to be their best.

There were writers of all kind – poets, jingle writers, fiction writers and storytellers. Of the dozen partipants, more than half shared some form work, even if it was nothing but a work in progress or a recounting of dreams.

Anja was the last to share. She recited a love letter written to the Milwaukee arts groups, as part of MARN’s new campaign, I Heart Art.  Her coffee colored curls peeked out under her mustard wool cloche hat. Though minute in stature, she commanded our attention with her confident, erect posture like a solider , flowery language and clever puns, carefully woven into a story about young bride. She couldn’t help but give in to the chorus of giggles as people slowly grasped her jokes and allusions peppered throughout the letter. After a round of hearty applause, many of us were likely left thinking the same thing, “Yeah, why couldn’t I think of that!?” That’s the beauty of creativity – it’s a totally unique to each creator.

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Donations and submissions are still being collected at MARN’s website for the I Heart Art campaign. If you do heart the arts in Milwaukee, be sure to show it! Sometimes a little push and reassurance is all you need.

 

 

 

Pints, Pointes and Pfister Narrator

There are certain perks to being the Pfister Narrator and having the opportunity to interview Milwaukee Ballet Company dancers is one of them. Last week, I attended a rehearsal at the Milwaukee Ballet to learn about the upcoming Genesis performance and international choreography competition. This competition only comes around every other year and brings some of the best talent from around the world right here to Milwaukee.

Because the Third Coast Digest shares the same commitment to the arts in Milwaukee as the Pfister Hotel, we partnered up to bring you a preview of the three dances that will premiere at Genesis on February 7-10. The winning choreographer will return to create a second dance for the Milwaukee Ballet’s 2014 series at the Pabst. Because of my affiliation with RadioMilwaukee, I will also be DJing the Pints before Points party this Thursday at 6 p.m. at the InterContinental (the modern step-sister to the Pfister) before the opening night of Genesis. See what the dancers have to say in the video below and hope to see you there!

The Crystal Narrator

Do you ever wonder if walls could really talk? Or if paintings, sculptures and chandeliers could too? These are the questions I ponder, as the Pfister Hotel’s narrator charged with excavating the memories and experiences of guests past and present that are steeping in every wall, carpet and object in this place. I want to write about them and Stephanie Barenz wants to paint them.

Already elbow-deep in pictures, paints and pencils, I sat down to chat with Stephanie in Timothy Westbrook’s studio as she was creating a painting of the Pfister Hotel’s lobby chandelier. I inquire why, of all the gorgeous relics, she chose the chandelier in the lobby. “It was a natural choice – it’s gorgeous and eye-catching, and it has the best vantage point. It’s the omniscient narrator, it sees and knows all of the happenings in the hotel.”

Stephanie Barenz
Stephanie Barenz

Stephanie is vying for the coveted title of the Pfister Artist in Residence to replace Timothy  in April. She stood out not only for her outstanding credentials, but also because of her proposal to incorporate the Pfister Narrator’s stories into her paintings.

Travel is a big part of her life and work as she explores how art changes perception of a place. She speaks of travel, not just the international type, but any path from point A to point B. She paints about place – series like Middle West, City Middle and Middle Kingdom (i.e. China) all showcase places she’s lived. You’ll see images of houses, suitcases, bicycles and cars – all objects representing travel and place.

Stephanie knows a thing or two about travel. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, moved to Wisconsin when she was 15, attended college in Minnesota, graduate school in Missouri, and lived stints in Italy and China.

“Culture shock hit me hard in China and it wasn’t graceful, but I grew so much and the Chinese people taught me so much about having a playful, whimsical nature that I’ve carried over to my work. They have an amazing outlook on life after going through all they did as a country.”

Stephanie admits that there were times when she took herself more seriously and then retracted: “Well I am very serious, so artwork is a way for me to get away from that.” She credits illustrators like Shel Silverstein for influencing her work.

“Matisse said something like ‘I want my art to feel like an armchair to a businessman at the end of the day,’ and that really stuck with me,” she reveals. Her muted color pallets are harmonious and quiet, subduing the flurry of activity often portrayed in her work.

Stephanie hopes to create a series of 20 to 30 paintings entitled “The Carriers” inspired from Pfister hotel guests and the stories that both she and the narrator uncover. She sees the objects in the hotel as carriers of the stories “silent witnesses to it all.”

Stephanie is creating detail and embedding images of the characters I've written about in her chandelier.
Stephanie is creating detail and embedding images of the characters I’ve written about in her chandelier.

We started to gab like two giddy schoolgirls dishing about their first crush. The prospect of collaboration excites me, though Stephanie’s potential tenure and mine would only overlap by one month. We envision a two-way process where the paintings inspire the characters and the characters inspire the painting. Stephanie also hopes to create a book with her paintings, with text written by the Narrator.

Find Stephanie and her work at Plaid Tuba (207 E. Buffalo Street, 6th Floor). And, be sure to vote here for your favorite 2013 Artist in Residence (whether it’s Stephanie or one of the five other amazingly talented artists) by February 14.

For the next three months, you can still find me pondering what lies beneath these walls.

Winter Fashion, Westbrook Style

Since starting his residency, Timothy Westbrook has had Milwaukee talking. At 23, he’s the youngest of the Pfister’s artists in residence, the first artist from out of state (Timothy hails from Wanakena, New York), and the first fiber artist (all other artists were painters).

On Friday, January 18th, he had jaws dropping.

He presented his final fashion event to coincide with Milwaukee’s winter Gallery Night and it was spectacular, to say the least. Timothy showed 17 looks (Yes, that’s right, in only eight months he’s woven the fabric by hand and constructed 17 looks). The models were striking in both appearance and attitude. The bold makeup and hair styles were courtesy of students from the Academy of Waukesha, a Paul Mitchell partner school. All of the looks were for sale as well – wearable art pieces ranging from $500- $23,000.

copyright Zachary Seib
copyright Zachary Seib

A squabble of photographers, like geese, stood attentively with  lenses up, ready to shoot the runway that split the Imperial ballroom in two camps of fans from every walk of life. Timothy’s clothing was constructed from re-purposed materials like vintage curtains,  plastic grocery bags, upholstery swatches, bedsheets, green Pfister umbrellas, and his signature, cassette tape film.

Because he was feeling a little homesick and didn’t want his emotions to get the best of him,  he cleverly recorded his opening remarks on one of his beloved cassette tapes. It was an incredibly telling moment, especially for those who have yet the pleasure to make his acquaintance. He’s quirky and incredibly kind. He’s professional with very clear vision and high standards, making it an honor to work alongside him at the Pfister.

I am no fashion critic, but I know what I like when it comes to aesthetics and Timothy, along with stylist Alexis Rose Criscimagna, achieved a beautiful balance of Avant-Garde and Victorian. Imagine a punk reconstruction of  Susan B. Anthony. But rather than critique his work, I want to tell you about Timothy Westbrook the person.

Brimming with character, with a penchant for fantasy, Timothy reveals that all he ever wanted to do was tell fairy tales. And through his work, he is doing just that. He loves unicorns, gesticulates wildly when he gets excited and makes everybody feel welcome, all the time. Timothy even  displays other artists’ work in his gallery.

Timothy will be in residence through March. Don’t miss out on meeting him before he becomes super famous. I for one, feel so happy that he’s woven his way into the fabric of the Milwaukee community. Timothy will reveal his legacy piece for the Pfister Hotel on March 29,  at an event open to the public. Check back for more details and become a fan of Timothy’s  Facebook page for more event coverage.

 

Photos courtesy of Zachery Seib Photography.

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Tonia Klein

Tonia Klein – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  The facet of the Pfister Artist in Residence program that I have enjoyed int he last four cycles is that each artist in residence has had an entirely different artistic perspective. My work is highly narrative, and typically involves some sort of fairy tale mythology.  And I love patterns!

My plan is to utilize the details of the ornate interior architecture in order to make various intricate patterns and create new narratives. The studio space in the Pfister would have a computer, printer, tri-pod and digital camera, a silkscreen table and about a thousand types of patterned paper in various states of collage.

Typically, I combine traditional methods of drawing, painting and printmaking with newer computerized digital photography and design techniques. The work ends up as a collage, screen print, digital print, and lately, I have been making opaque vinyl pattern pieces for window installations.

Currently, I work in a custom framing shop near Chicago, and often work with customers bringing in interesting things to frame. I enjoy hearing their stories about the pieces they bring in, and it would be fun to turn the tables and share the stories behind my own work.

Tonia’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Tonia & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Sue Lawton

Sue Lawton – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: In my latest body of work, an art book entitled “The Circus and the Cyclone”, I worked with a wide range of people, from family and friends, to local musicians, to folks from around the country and around the world.

Over the course of the next year, I will continue writing and illustrating a new series of fantastical tales set in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan merging everyday encounters with extraordinary happinings. The visual style utilized my unique blend of inks and watercolor inspired by artists of the Golden Age of Illustration. I also plan to continue working with The Vitrolum Republic as they embark on the journey of recording their next album.

Each tale begins as an idea, but only takes true form through interactions with participants. I would love to paint another full-sized, vintage-inspired theatrical backdrop to use for a photo shoot for one of my next works. As these stories unfold, new images will come to life through pencil sketches, ink line drawings, and finally, fully color completed works. The final steps are then executed using traditional methods as well as my own techniques I have spent the last ten years fine-tuning.

Sue’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Sue & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Tonia Klein

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Stephanie Barenz

Stephanie Barenz – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: “THE CARRIERS”

The Pfister carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The famous Victorian art collection, the antiques, and rooms have served as silent witnesses to all of it. Every day a new story is written and this is where my proposal begins.

The title “The Carriers” is used to describe how I would use images of the hotel’s people and objects to “carry” the memories and stories of the Pfister. For example, I would ask guests if I could interview them about where they were coming from, their visit at the Pfister, what they brought with them, and what kind of transportation brought them to Milwaukee. I would then paint an image of their luggage or the train car that they arrived in that is piled high with their stories and memories from our conversation. Our conversation would most likely extend beyond their stay at the hotel and I would work from images they give me.

I would also create works solely based on the hotel’s past and present history. Anything could carry a memory, such as a hotel room or an old chandelier. This playful approach has endless possibilities. I would turn the Victorian collection and the hotel archives for imagery and inspiration.

Over the course of a year I would like to create an entire body of work entitled “The Carriers” that would include 20 to 30 paintings. I would turn these images into an illustrated book and hopefully collaborate with the Pfister resident journalist and storyteller to write some text for the images

Stephanie’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Stephanie & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein