The Student Whisperer

By all accounts, Timothy Westbrook is a cheerful guy.  He’s beaming whenever I see him: showing one of his fabrics to a guest, chatting with staff, carrying a cup of coffee through the halls or waving from behind the sewing machine in his studio.  Beaming.

His good mood radiates with a different frequency today. Three of us have joined him in the studio: a chick with a notepad (me), a guy with a video camera (Dustin) and the woman he credits for launching his weaving career.  I watch as he smiles and fidgets with papers on his work station and smiles some more. His professor, Sarah Saulson, is looking about the studio space, admiring his works. Timothy is glowing with unfettered joy.

“Sarah was one of the few professors who was able to tap into ‘what’s important to Tim?’ and encourage those things in me.  She was so nurturing and wonderful,” he said.  “She’s still wonderful.”

Sarah stands beside Timothy as he talks.  She is tall, roughly 5’11”, without being imposing. Poised but unassuming. She’s dressed in comfortable, asymmetrical layers of leggings, skirt, smock and cardigan.  Her ash blonde hair is also clipped into interesting angles.  Her face is kind as she watches her former student with an approving grin.

Then, I hear her speak.

It’s only halfway through her recounting of Timothy’s first classes with her that I realize I’ve been mesmerized.  Sarah’s voice is airy and measured.  Lithe and deliberate.  She speaks with the lightness of a kindergarten teacher at story time and the unwavering calm of a hostage negotiator. I imagine the gauzy softness of her voice uplifting Timothy as a frustrated student and even leveling a humbling critique.

Sarah has been a professional textile artist for more than 20 years.  Her pieces have been featured  in textbooks; she’s published articles in trade and consumer magazines; she’s given workshops and presentations at conferences and guilds across the U.S.; her work is widely exhibited and juried at craft shows; and she works frequently with elementary school classrooms, in addition to being a professor at Syracuse.

I ask about her markers to gauge new students’ weaving potential.

“I know by the end of the first class,” she says, explaining that the studio classes are once a week in a four-hour block. “That first day, I get observe their work habits, confidence in learning new skills, creative approach. It’s intense amount of contact.”

During her decade at Syracuse, Sarah’s classes have drawn students from fashion, interior design, industrial design, print making, sculpture, history, public relations and music composition.  She’s mindful that they all come seeking something.

“Teaching at an arts school is something of a tight robe,” she says.  “Students are searching for their own voice but, by necessity, I have a list of techniques and terms that I must teach them.  I try to keep the assignments open enough for them to bring themselves forward.”

Open enough for weaving cassette tape ribbon into a loom? Yes.

“Tim was a fiber arts major, I suppose I already had a few expectations,” Sarah says with a wide smile. “I had vivid recollections of a research project he had done involving historical gowns and dinosaurs.”

Timothy drops his head with a sheepish grin.

“He’s concept driven,” Sarah continues. “Weaving, on the other hand, is technique based. It’s labor intensive and step-by-step. I knew this class was going to stretch him.”

“It wasn’t until the very last minute that I realized I love weaving,” Timothy admits.  The passion Sarah ignited in him that last semester of college ultimately catapulted Timothy halfway across the country to become the Pfister’s Artist in Residence.

“It’s amazing that your journey led you here,” Sarah says.

Timothy looks to her with genuine adoration and says, “You are responsible for me getting here.”

I ask Sarah about her new work. She is preparing for an exhibit this fall, “Relics of the Twentieth Century,” where she explores the anthropological roles of textiles and weaving in the human experience.

“It was only until the Industrial Revolution that the typical home didn’t weave its own fabric or, in some cases, spin its own yard to make that fabric,” she says. “I find it equally interesting how many twentieth century items are already obsolete.  Once upon a time, women didn’t leave the house without little white gloves. Many of my students conceptually know about typewriters or rotary phones, but have never handled or even seen one.  Exploring the concept of ‘commonplace.’”

The voice. I’m nodding my head…

Timothy and Sarah trade stories about exhibit materials and memorable projects from other former classmates.  The sample list is intriguing: pantyhose, candy wrappers, film negatives, shredded paper, coffee filters, yellow pages, aluminum cans, pull cords from a ceiling fan.

“I had an intern for a few weeks this summer,” Timothy says, “and I was totally inspired by her use of rubber bands.”

“Timothy,” I ask, the notion in my head slowly shaping into a question. “Having had this powerful mentoring experience with Sarah, what do you want to be a part of how you mentor new artists?”

He  paused and says, “I have such a strong point of view, I want to be sure I’m motivating them to pursue their own styles.  I also want to make sure I explain the technical elements as thoroughly as I encourage the conceptual ones.  I’m still working on that.”

I turn to Sarah. “Who mentored you, Sarah?” I ask.

“I don’t even have a clear memory of it. I’ve been weaving since I was eight,” she says.  “There was a woman on my block. I might have gone to her house once, but I’m sure it had its impact on me. As an adult, I became friends with a woman who had been the first American weaver to travel to Finland in the 1950s.  I also learned that the weaving community is very warm and nurturing.  I’m fortunate for that.”

Timothy and Sarah slip into another conversation that has pattern counts, lace, artist communes, rescue dogs, the Adirondacks and loom maintenance.  Their exchange is easy, like a beloved nephew and aunt.  Like peers.  Like friends.

They both look wonderfully fortunate to me.

Good Genes

Zoom in close. The young performer engages every facial feature to deliver this song.  Pan out slowly, generic take in her full frame.  She’s comfortable at the microphone and at home behind her guitar.

Her singing is inspired and sincere. The lilt and texture of her voice is an appealing mix of Toby Lightman, buy cialis Stevie Nicks and Sara Bareilles. Pan out a bit further to take in the late afternoon sun lighting the furniture of Blu. Most of the chairs are empty. Two small tables chat in the back of the room.  One other person is with me at the bar. We’re both nodding along with the singer.

Her next song tickles a distant thought. “That sounds familiar,” I say, curling my face into a question mark, trying to remember. “I can’t think of–”

“It’s ‘Lights’,” my bar mate tells me. “It’s been playing on the radio a lot lately.”

I admit to him that I wasn’t familiar with the song, but liked how it suited her voice. He turned back to the performer and I smiled at myself, appreciating the life reminder about judging books and covers. Why couldn’t this silver-haired man wearing a t-shirt and shorts and enjoying a lager beer be familiar with the Billboard Top 100? Shame on me.

I learn that his name is Dan. He’s a designer for a fabrications company, creating plastic moldings for car dashboards, cell phones, keyboards and other manufacturing companies.   He’s lives in Madison, but is originally from Fort Atkinson.

“Are you a musician, too?” I ask.

He laughs, “I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. All of my kids are really creative, though.  My wife and I don’t know where they got it from.”

We laugh about the traits that children will assume, both because of and in spite of genetics.

“There are parts of them that are so familiar and parts that are so uniquely them,” Dan says. “Like, when Katie first starting playing–”

Dan’s grin turns sheepish, and he tosses a thumb over his shoulder to the guitar player. “That’s my daughter,” he said. “I’m her roadie today, carrying all the heavy stuff.”

We talked a bit more watching our children bloom. How much he marvels at his two grandsons. That he enjoyed his own childhood. In mid-sentence, Dan’s face brightens with surprise and he smiles broadly at two women entering the lounge.

“These are two of my sisters,” Dan says, between hugs. As they settle at the bar, one sister introduces herself to me. Eileen.  She’s the oldest.  They’ve traveled from Madison to see Katie play, deciding to make an overnight adventure of the trip.  I catch her up on our conversation, sharing Dan’s comment about musical ability skipping a generation.

“It’s true,” she says, her face lighting up. “I knew Dad could play guitar, but I didn’t know how good he was until I was an adult.  It’s not like he had time to play much when we were all growing up.”

“He was a World War II vet,” Dan adds. “When he came home, I guess he was busy making up for lost time.”

Eileen laughed and turned to me to explain: “There were six of us in a span of nine years,” she said, smiling. “Good Irish Catholics.”

Their father passed away more than two decades ago, but the two siblings lobbed memories of his good nature as if they were last-summer fresh:

“If someone showed up to our house, he would get on the phone and start calling people to come over.”

“Remember the slip and slide!?”

“He got a tarp, a water hose and a bunch of dish liquid to make a huge 15-foot by 10-foot slip and slide.”

“He could make anything into a party.”

“Cousin Tommy always knew he could crash at our house.”

“He walked to the house from Elkhorn once.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“My dad always had a soft spot for Cousin Tommy,” Eileen says to me. “He’d been in Vietnam.”

“A paramedic,” Dan says.  “He saw the worst of everything.”

“Yeah, the worst,” Eileen says solemnly. “Dad understood what Tommy was dealing with.”

The lounge has begun to fill with people, many of them here for Katie.  She takes a set break and starts making her rounds with hugs. Dan is to his feet, too, shaking hands, patting backs, hugging family, laughing.

I lean back to admire their tangle of arms, conversations, smiles.  Even if they can’t trace every talent to a sponsoring gene, love of family is clearly a dominant trait that they share.

Timothy’s 2nd Gallery Night + “Wedding” After Party

Photo Credit: Alison Barnick (who also happens to be a Pfister Employee)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotobug8/

Pfister Artist in Residence, Timothy Westbrook’s second gallery night took place on Friday, July 27th. With the intention of creating a piece that referenced Elizabethan, Timothy decided to tell a story with his second gallery night piece.  Using guides from the 1890s, he created a piece that reflects Queen Victoria’s popularizing of the color white in wedding gowns.

Much like his first piece, Timothy’s fiber art is composed of re-purposed materials, and this piece was no exception.  Utilizing white plastic bags, Timothy weaved a fantastic  Wedding dress – a dress that tied in surprisingly well with Art Milwaukee’s “Wedding”, a Gallery Night after event that was held in the Pfister. But don’t take our word for it, hear Timothy’s thoughts about his second Gallery Night and the privledge of being involved in the event in the video below.

Timothy also used the Gallery Night event as an opportunity to exhibit some of his dyed gowns from earlier in the summer with the help of some local models, and the help of Botique B’Lou.

After Gallery viewing ended at 9pm, the evening commenced upstairs with Art Milwaukee‘s “Wedding” in the Pfister’s Imperial Ballroom.

Artists from throughout the city were on hand to ‘live paint’ through the evening while mock wedding events occurred throughout.

“I have a Much larger sense of accomplishment…” 

Check out some of the great photos from the evening below (for a full gallery, visit us on Facebook)…

Map of Gallery Night & Day, July 27-28, 2012

For your convenience, The Pfister has assembled a handy interactive Google Map of all of the participating venues in this weekend’s gallery night. Zoom, click, drag, and scroll your way around the map to see the full picture of what Milwaukee’s Gallery Night has to offer.

Find the full map, along with a Legend and a full list of participating venues here: http://goo.gl/maps/sbu7f

We’d love to see you at the Pfister, where you can visit our Artist-In-Residence, Timothy Westbrook from 5 to 9pm on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday.

More information about Milwaukee’s Gallery Night & Day can be found here, courtesy of the Historic Third Ward Association.


View Gallery Night and Day – July 27 – 28, 2012 in a larger map

Get to Know Timothy Westbrook, the 2012 Pfister Artist in Residence

Many lovely guests and passersby have come to enjoy the creation process with me. A few questions keep coming up so I thought that I’d share my answers with you so you can get to know me better. Feel free to e-mail any other questions to TimothyADK@gmail.com or come visit the studio and we can chat in person. I’m in daily Monday-Saturday and Sunday by appointment. Hours change day to day. You are welcome to request my presence in the studio by e-mail the address above.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

When did you start sewing?

My grandmother taught me when I was five. My mother realized my interest and set me up with sewing lessons when I was nine with a local quilter. I’ve been sewing ever since.

 

Where did you get the idea for cassette tapes?

In eighth grade, I participated in a wearable art recycled fashion show. Being a “Purist” at the time, I couldn’t possibly sew with thread because it wasn’t recycled. I used the cassette tape as sewing thread. With that outfit I used woven plastic bags as a belt. I took a weaving course my junior year of college at Syracuse University with professor Sarah Saulson.  I made my first costume with the material for a student production of The Magic Flute opera. You can view it on my personal website here.

 When did you start weaving?

In third grade, I had a simple weaving tutorial. In eighth grade, I received my first floor loom from my friend Angie Oliver of Packbasket Adventures. My first formal weaving training wasn’t until my Junior year of college.

Are you from Milwaukee?

I am from the quiet town of  Wanakena, NY.  It’s a tiny town comprised of 62 year-round inhabitants located in the north foothills of the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York. It’s worth googling images or coming into the studioto see the photograph of my front yard. Here are some charming spots in my hometown to check out.

http://www.esf.edu/rangerschool/

http://pinecone-wanakena.com/

http://www.wanakenawoodworks.com/

http://www.wanakenageneralstore.com/

http://www.packbasketadventures.com/

Are you only making costumes/fashion?

I am taking commissions for wedding gowns, evening gowns, ready-to-wear, scarves, hand bags, costumes for stage, costumes for isolated performance art, and costume for private commissions. The main goal is to create Victorian style ball gowns out of material I will be weaving out of cassette tapes combined with natural fibers.

How long are you here?

I will be here for one full year; my first day was April 2nd 2012, and I’ll be hanging out until end March of 2013. To learn more about the program I am participating in click here. 

Who is doing the weaving?

I am weaving on a four-shaft floor loom from my good friend and previous studio mate Elin Sandberg.

Who is doing the sewing?

I am sewing on my non-electric sewing machine. I have a manufacture date estimated between 1885 and 1895.

And with one last parting word, Guido Pfister is a fan of what I’m doing and requested to wear one of the scarves I have for sale in the studio.

More sites to peruse

The main Pfister Artist-In-Residence Website 

My online portfolio

Like me on Facebook

Timothy Westbrook Explores & Exhibits at the Geneva Lake Museum

The emphasis of the Artist in Residence program here at the hotel is to remind us all that art is living and breathing and not just another layer of wallpaper.

I have seen first hand how this program allows guests to get a hands-on experience of my work. I love to see guest reaction when they encounter my work up close and personal.

The best part of the studio is that you never know who will pop in. It continues to be one of my favorite parts of the experience.

Around the start of my second month, ed I had an epitomizing moment when Karen Walsh of the Geneva Lake Museum stepped into the studio. An instant friendship blossomed and a month later I showed an exhibit at their “History Loves Company Celebration.”

Not only were there replicas of 1900’s style Fire Stations, Law offices, buy viagra Schools, Farms, Kitchens, etc. but they also had displays of turn of the century home craft, photography equipment, dentistry, boating, and the military.

If you have a passion, obsession, profession, or hobby, they will have the turn of the century counterpart. It is worth it to see the history of your work in physical form. Google-ing it online can only take you so far, in the words of the new director of the museum, generic Karen Walsh, “If you touch history, history will touch you.”

Here are some of my favorite sights from the trip.

The "General Store" had a great collection of fabric and thread.
A wedding gown for the average early 1900's woman.
Display of turn of the century shawls in the "seamstress's room"
Skating is my second passion & these skates from the 1920's are amazing!

My exhibit for the “History Loves Company Celebration” was a miniature version of my studio in the Pfister.

My display in the museum.

My set up was a fun compliment to the fiber art display they also had in the museum.

One of my dresses and jackets inspired by the 1920's was also on display.

On semi-permanent display will be an exhibit of costumes that I’m making in the studio.

It was a wonderful experience and I hope to share many more during my residence. And, as always, please stop in, my door is always open.

– Timothy

 

 

 

 

A Glimpse into Timothy Westbrook’s First Month

My first month as Artist In Residence has been action packed. While it has been a whirlwind to get here, cialis I could not have asked for a better start.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting some wonderful people and attending some great events, making my transition into this position smooth and fun.

I’ve been introduced to a lifetime of memories. The beauty is each one is new, unique and provides me with a bit of inspiration.

Pfister Artist in Residence
Lola played dress up with Timothy & named his mannequin Marlene

Some of my favorite moments include:

  • Being graced with the presence of a Klondike Katewho offered to sing me one of the songs of her performance.
  • Meeting the brilliant Lola. A seven-year-old that told me all about her life as the malevolent little sister and shared her evil laugh. She also named one of my mannequins, troche Marlene.
  • Being invited by a lead a member of the Intermezzo String Quartet for a day of antique store shopping the next time I’m in Madison.

I will never forget the night I finished my first weaving. I was joined by a kind but quiet woman who was captivated by the process. She had seen every fiber process leading up to weaving. Her sister has sheep so she has seen sheering, carding and spinning (all processes involved in making yarn); after about an hour of vigilantly watching she shared that it was her birthday.

Sharing a special bonding moment with the birthday girl that night was fantastic. She cared as much about the weaving as I. And the next day, she continued on with her life but profoundly moved me in the moment that 28 feet of woven cloth escaped the restriction of the loom.

The following day a couple came in who had lived together in Milwaukee from the time they were born to the time they were somewhere in their thirties. It has been 26 years since they had been back and they said the Artist in Residence programs was one of their favorite changes to the city.

Easter was my day off. And by day off, I mean I only was in the studio seven hours instead of 10-14 hours and I was sketching and putzing instead of energetically sewing and weaving.

A very creative five-year old joined my favorite part of that day. We worked on some new sketches and her sense of positive and negative space with the use of neon pink was very inspiring.

A well known singer in her home town, Sherron, had a late flight into Milwaukee. Still awake from jet-lag, we took a midnight tour of the art collection. That night two weddings had happened. We enjoyed the view of the ballrooms as the clean up crew collapsed the tables and shared stories about the fun the bridal party had.

As I worked steadily the days leading up to my opening gallery night show, the studio was visited by high school guidance counselors, bankers, knitters, family members of people who once had a sewing machine, or once had a loom.

That “Big Night” came with my first visit of friends that might as well be family. My mother’s childhood friend stopped in with her partner and their child, who is now eleven. This was my first time meeting her. What an amazing event for a reunion.

After a wildly successful premier gallery night, HOW could this residency possibly get any better?

Pfister Artist in Residence
Model, Rose, dons Timothy Westbrook's First Gallery Night Piece

Easily. A lovely poised, elegant, woman whose great aunt was an on-call tailor in the early days of the hotel, walked into my studio. She shared stories of women who would tear their dresses when a miss step of the heel caught the hem of a train. A tailor would be on sight to quickly mend the tear then send them back to the dance floor.

Shortly after, a leading frame historian who also works in art frame restoration came in the space, sat down on the floor cross-legged with me and we discussed history, art preservation, textiles and museums. It was truly an honor.

Later that week, an incredible group of people started to filter into the hotel – championship dancers. This was the 25th year of the Wisconsin State Dancesport Championships. I enjoyed our former Narrator Ed’s perspective he describes it perfectly.

Pfister Artist in Residence
Timothy meets a legendary opera singer

My first month has gone faster than the dancers can spin. Just when I thought it could not get any better, late in the evening on the last day of April in walks the first opera singer into the studio. Thirty-six years ago, he performed as Papageno in a production of the Magic Flute in Milwaukee. What a magical way to end what has been an extraordinary month.

I’ve enjoyed it all, from every conversation to the few people that popped their heads in long enough to put a smile on my face. Even some of the late night wise guys quotes have been great. Some of my favorites have been:

  •  “Can you make a jacket with bird cages on the shoulders?”
  • “What man, did you get in a fight with all your cassettes?”
  • “What looks better, country or rock and roll?”

Thanks for making my first month so memorable.

Looking forward to sharing my work with you! Stop by anytime, my door is always open.

– Timothy

The Experience Only a Concierge Can Craft

 

Historic Turner Hall Ballroom very much alive on 4th Street in Milwaukee.

It is the people who are the best at what they do who are the most difficult to write about. How do you document the seam which is so well constructed that it appears seamless? I’ve been trying to figure out a way to explain the concierge position for quite some time. Pfister Chief Concierge Peter Mortensen is a terrific storyteller, in addition to being an stellar concierge. Peter has a love for both the arts and Milwaukee history, both details which lead him to the story he tells below.

Peter and I traveled to record this piece in Milwaukee’s historic Turner Hall Ballroom. Since this is the place where his story resides, I felt it impolite to leave the topic of our conversation out of the conversation. You may notice Peter’s voice has a deep echo, and that’s because we were sitting in the middle of the cavernous ballroom on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Below, Peter regales us with the story of how a man living in Milwaukee, in 1892, wrote the world’s first pop music hit. Here is an old video of the song After the Ball as introduced by the songwriter himself, Charles K. Harris. Then, to hear Peter talk about the music coming full circle one hundred years later with performers Joan Morris and William Bolcom was ice cream scooped onto the cake. Click play or download below to listen to these gems of Milwaukee’s past and present.

 

 

Like Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

 

That’s the best way I can describe this Narrator experience. My last few posts will be going live over the next couple of days and my successor will be at work getting acquainted with the speed and rhythm of this sparkling old gal on Wisconsin Avenue. From an artistic standpoint it’s been like getting to eat chocolate cake for breakfast every day. The staff have been great. They’ve been generous with information, gracious in introducing me to guests and other coworkers, and ever tolerant of my constant game of 20 questions.

Every day I’ve arrived at the hotel the guests, employees, and structure itself have all been potential colors across my palette with which to paint this experience. So here we are, having arrived at the point of final conclusions.

Well, fellow writer, here’s what I have to leave you with. My two cents for you to take or leave. The rabbit hole is in front of you. Do you take the red or blue pill? This is your garden to till, and you determine how fruitful the result.

* Get a gym membership. There are pastries all over this place. They taste too good. Too good! Hopefully your will is stronger than mine in the face of bakery.

* Tip well. Especially in the beginning. You will be loved even more.

* Conversation is give and take. The first part of that is give. Most people aren’t familiar with being interviewed but most everybody knows how to have a conversation. For people to get comfortable enough to tell you the good stories it’s often necessary to offer something about your life, sometimes before they do.

* Don’t get too over concerned about the writing. They chose you for a reason. Write it. Post it. Exhale. Have a drink.

* Don’t be afraid to ask. The more you engage the staff the more they will engage you. The people who have been here a long time are a wealth of knowledge. Several people have worked at the Pfister longer than I’ve been alive! But if you don’t ask they won’t necessarily offer their information. Some of them have seen decades of faces working here and it might take a while before they recognize yours.

* The concierge has a list of events for the week. I liked to ask what was coming up to be present for the ones which sounded the most interesting to cover.

* I’m pleasantly surprised there was a job to do and that we (as humans) haven’t entirely traded our social skills for laptop computers and backlit telephones. I wonder if after book publishing became widespread, social types feared the world would shove it’s head in a book and never again converse.

* My favorite meal is breakfast. Any time of day, breakfast feels like starting all over again. The Cafe at the Pfister makes terrific breakfast until 2pm.

* Guests will expect you to know about the hotel’s history, art collection, and surrounding downtown area. The more information you can offer, the more credibility it will provide the ethereal Narrator title when trying to answer the question, “So, what is it that you do here?”

It’s been a great fun half year. The experience has felt akin to being a part of a theater production, or a circus. Except the circus is stationary and the carnival-goers are the travelers who come to visit you. Strap yourself in and take the ride up that first roller coaster climb…

 

Dancers Sparkle Across the 7th Floor

 

 

Dancers perform for the judges. More than five couples usually share the dance floor. The elaborate network of temporary overhead lighting ensures that all is seen.

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Wisconsin Dancesport Championships. The company has a long history with the hotel as they’ve held the annual event at the Pfister all these years. This high-heeled party brings dancers from across the country to compete at their specialized steps.

It is interesting to see the dancers’ posture and gait change depending upon which dance is announced. For example, to an untrained eye (mine) the tango appears stiff and exacting. The foxtrot takes on a more sly, playful, and sensual body movement. During waltzes dancers’ bodies become languid and graceful, flowing toward the next position. Dancers are on display everywhere across the 7th floor in varying stages of preparation, warm-up, cool down, and rushed focus to perform last minute wardrobe alterations. There are rumbas, cha chas, jazz dances, solos, the jitterbug, salsa dances. The list goes on to nearly every dance you’ve ever (or some, in my case, never) heard of. During competition fellow dancers between heats applaud and cheer for their friends and colleagues.

An impromptu city of vendors springs up wherever dance competitions take place. They are prepared to satisfy all of the dancers potential needs from shoes to outfits and photo/videography. I spoke with the shoe vendor in the foreground and she observed that she would likely spend one week at home this month.

 

Between competition dancers relax and recharge throughout the cafe and lobby lounge. The women wear makeup which reminds me of my theater days and the men stand at attention as suitors with impeccable posture. Coaches critique improvements necessary before the next time they hit the floor. The vibe is that of a large extended theater company from all walks of life.

My favorite part was to watch the shadows swim across the dance floor as dancers moved in and out of the light.

One can’t help but wonder about the impact shows such as So You Think You Can Dance have had on these competitions. I would imagine the larger exposure of dance offered to the modern lexicon has brought an influx of new blood in to the dance community.

Shadows of fabric tornado across the wood floor.
Each dress is designed to be more eye catching than the last. Men's pants are loose and look comfortable but I imagine serve the purpose of accentuating leg movements.

 

Artist Timothy Westbrook's costume display on the 7th floor. Could celluloid cassette tape be the new sequin?

 

I tried to imagine any other environment where an event such as a ballroom dance championship could be held that would be as fitting as the Pfister Hotel. Nothing came to mind, except possibly some fantastical land which exists only in a poet’s imagination. Standing amidst the assembled bustle of  thoroughbred peacock dancers which have taken up residence inside of the crown jewel of the Marcus family, the two feel so fitting you wonder where the dance stops and the hotel begins and vice versa. The delineation between stage and spectator blurs to a point that the fray is as much a part of the experience.

Swing dance high steppers.

 

 

A brick and mortar structure can be lovely standing by itself but without the people to breathe a kiss of life into it’s hallways, it is just a pile of well placed bricks, doors, and floors. The unique events and personalities passing through these doors create the personality of the Pfister Hotel, possibly even more so than this lovely house which Guido and Charles built.