Tuesday Afternoon Reverie

It is 2:21 p.m. and here’s what is going down:  a recording of violin music saturates the air.  Someone walks past hauling a 2.88 (or so) foot long camcorder.  The fronds of a palm tree sensuously caress the south column.  A security guard carefully explains how to get to the Metro Market to a hotel guest.  I estimate the guest to be about thirty years old by the way he has trimmed his beard. Another man in a baseball cap asks me if I am typing a letter to my mother, cialis I am not.  I am writing a letter to the hotel lobby, or rather what is happening inside it, since the lobby itself might not be sentient in the way that you and I are.  If it were though, I’d feel sorry for the rug.  Here is this exquisite rug placed on top of the ornate wall-to-wall carpeting and people just walk right over it without respectfully acknowledging the brief yet fantastic change of terrain.

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Behold.

This is a place where no matter where you look there is something that you can get lost dazing into. I am going to stop typing now so that I may enter reverie as I consider the spatial delights experienced by the light emanating from all the electrical fixtures.  I consider the spatial tension that exists between the empty chairs at the top of the stairs.  If you stick around in this place long enough you will hear each quarter of the hour marked by the dingdong chime of a grandfather clock.  Today I’ve typed here long enough to see a ball bearing pop off my typewriter and roll down the marble steps.  The steps here remind me of salami.  How delicious!

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Genoa salami is my favorite, perhaps but this looks a little more like capicola.

 

A man descends the stairs and I notice that he has clipped his sunglasses to the backside of his turtleneck collar.  I have never seen anyone keep their sunglasses snug against their neck vertebrae like that before.  Someone loudly asks, “Anymore gifts?”  Their companion loudly replies, “We are up to $1500,000 now.” People wheel their baggage through.  It is funny to think about how 20 years ago all this luggage would have been lugged in without wheels.  When I was a kid it still had not occurred to society to put wheels on suitcases. We have come a long way.  I leave my typewriter to go sit by the fire for a while.  My eyes close.  Val, the bartender asks if I want anything, but no, I just want to sit by the fire.  “That’s fine, people have been doing that since 1893,” says Val.  As I sit I hear a pair of middle-aged women in the midst of some profuse giggling.  I walk over to them.  Pam & Kate explain how they just got back from a Photoshop conference and are now feeling giddy.  The Happy Hour has descended.  Roc at the desk has told me that the lobby bar is where Marilyn Monroe liked to sip her drinks.  The stairwell is where Elvis Presley stood to graciously wave at everyone.  Roc himself spent an hour and a half discussing international politics with Margaret Thatcher.  Roc also said, “The hotel never used to allow dogs in here like they do now.  Dogs love the elevator here! Each floor has it’s own bouquet of smells that the dog catches whiff of as they go past in the elevator. I wish you could interview a dog and get them to tell you what it is that they smell on each floor.”  Hmm, good idea.

Announcing the 7th Pfister Narrator – Anja Notanja Sieger

We are absolutely elated to name Anja Notanja Sieger as our seventh “Pfister Narrator.” In this role, she will spend time in the hotel’s lobby and public spaces, typing letters and poems on site, speaking with visitors and guests and sharing their stories right here on our award-winning blog.

“I will write personal letters for visiting strangers, and contribute to the Pfister’s blog,” said Sieger. “I hope to also host public story slams and literary readings featuring local talent, as well as to publish a book by the end of my incumbency.”

Sieger received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and creative writing from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2009. Her performance writing art service “La Prosette” has been featured on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA Today Online, MSN Hotmail News and Yahoo News. La Prosette is a one-woman typewriter service that allows clients to choose from the following options: Poetry, Love Letter, Insult Letter, Letter of Recommendation, Short Story, or Letter from a Pet. Writing letters requires her to pretend for the duration of the composition that she is “Not-Anja,” but the client. Her live stories have won Milwaukee area slams held by Ex Fabula and the Pfister Hotel. Sieger is currently an Artist in Resident at In Tandem Theatre and a Writer in Residence at Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee.

Sieger was chosen to serve as narrator based on her writing style, professional experience and personality. She was selected from a large pool of qualified applicants by a review panel consisting of local writers, editors and representatives from the hotel. She will be replacing Molly Snyder, who has been blogging for the hotel since May 2013. Sieger will begin her residency as narrator on May 1, 2014.

“Anja brings creativity, enthusiasm, and a fresh perspective to the Narrator program,” said Paul Ohm, general manager of The Pfister. “We think our guests are going to enjoy her presence at the hotel and look forward to seeing how her personal interactions with them unfold on the blog.”

No jacket required

Amanda and Craig traveled from their home in Elkhorn to Milwaukee just for the day and in order to randomly stop in at “cool places.”

I love the spontaneity of their plan and the fact their quest for cool landed them in the Lobby Bar sipping cocktails. Amanda had been to the Pfister one time before for her sister’s birthday. They – along with a few others – went to Blu (on the 23rd floor of the hotel) and had a spectacular time.

“I just had to come back,” says Amanda. “Craig’s never been here. It’s such a beautiful hotel.”

Amanda went on to say that she was, at first, concerned that perhaps they weren’t dressed up enough to hang out at the Pfister. However, she decided to risk it and was happy to find out she was perfectly comfortable in her casual clothing.

We talked about the range of guests – and therefore the range of attire – at the Pfister Hotel. I told Amanda and Craig that when I tell people I work at the Pfister, they sometimes make a comment about how “fancy” it is. (A few even said it in a fake “rich person” voice.)

And it is fancy, I tell them, but it isn’t.

The hotel is extraordinarily opulent, from the twinkling crystal chandeliers to the stunning Victorian art collection – it’s a visual feast of history and beauty – but it’s not stuffy.

Furthermore, I spend about 10 hours a week at the Pfister and never once have I felt displaced even though I’m a pretty casual gal. I’m most comfortable in jeans and a black concert T-shirt – and I admit I upped my wardrobe game for the Narrator position (translation: I bought a blazer) – but I didn’t exactly run out and charge piles of gowns and gold adornments.

I often tell people who suggest the hotel is too lavish for their likes the story of founder Guido Pfister and how he wanted to give the city a beautiful yet comfortable gathering place. A hotel that would serve as “Milwaukee’s living room.”

And although my living room doesn’t have large lion statues or, sadly, a dapper and dedicated staff (in fact it’s kinda small and overstuffed with books and old furniture), the Pfister lobby does feel like an extension of my home at this point. Even on days when I’m wearing my Joan Jett T-shirt.

Under the blazer, of course.

Soaring through happy hour with flight attendants

As flight attendants, treat Jamie and Quin land all over the country. Including, recently, in Milwaukee.

I met them during Happy Hour at Mason Street Grill and asked them what, if anything, they like about Brew City.

“The Public Market,” Quin says immediately. “I love it. Love the gourmet food. I visit every time I’m here.”

Jamie says she liked the city, too, but being a Bears fan – both she and Quin live in Chicago – makes her experience here sometimes a bit unsavory. Especially when she’s wearing her Chicago Bears gloves.

“The Green Bay fans give me sh-t about these all the time,” she says.

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the lives of pilots and flight attendants. As a person with terminal wanderlust, it seems like a really exciting and enriching job.

“It is,” says Quin. “It’s like being on vacation every day. You don’t have to see the same boring people every day and work in the same boring office. And I was in Ft. Lauderdale last night.”

I am clearly in the wrong profession.

“The best part is that I have friends all over the country, and I get to see them, when I’m working,” she says.

Have they ever experienced “scary moments” in the sky?

“There have been a few,” says Jamie. “But I’d still pick flying over driving or taking a train any day.”

Do they still serve any special snacks on their flights?

“Cookies in the morning!” says Jamie.

Favorite places to fly?

“San Diego. It’s where I’m from,” says Quin.

Jamie’s response surprises me a bit. I never thought of this place as an all-time favorite destination.

“Portland, Maine,” she says. “I love the seafood – the restaurants are phenomenal – and the scenery is beautiful.”

OK, Portland, Maine, you are now on my Travel Bucket List. Thanks, ladies, and happy trails to you.

Getting along swimmingly at a sea-themed soiree

On Thursday night, I went to the 2014 Book Of Lists party with Pfister artist-in-residence Stephanie Barenz and my parter, Royal.

The party’s theme this year was “Under The Sea” and its mission was, as always, to celebrate the media firm’s Book of Lists, which is a compilation of the lists published each week in the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The unofficial mission of the evening, however, was to enjoy the art of the six Pfister artist finalists, eat from an incredible seafood-loaded buffet, imbibe boozy blue drinks, play carnival-esque games and attempt to stay upright while balancing on a mechanical surfboard.

Let’s just say it was harder than it looked.

The annual shindig is described as “the best business networking event” of the year and attracts more than 500 business-area executives which means lots of suits, ties and, this year, plenty of lobster claws and mermaid tails, too.

A sea-friendly spirit was in full force and the details – from the bowls of goldfish crackers to the insanely detailed starfish and seahorse cookies for dessert to the super fresh mussels – made the evening a wave of success.

But perhaps my favorite part of the evening was all of the costumes. I particularly enjoyed the lobster lady in the elevator and the hippie Neptune dude as well as my own chance to toss on a coconut bra and sailor’s cap and climb inside a photo booth with my super fun party mates.

My time as the Pfister Narrator is winding down, and to stick with a water metaphor in honor of the sea-themed party, I’m swirling the drain over here. Hence, these moments, and documentation of these moments, are really starting to make a splash in my nostalgic parts.

Too smiley to be a crab. Must be a lobster.
Too smiley to be a crab. Must be a lobster.
There was a big star at the party.
Sea creatures say “cheese,” too.
Secret: That's not his real beard.
Secret: That’s not his real beard.
Nice tail.
Nice tail.
Ok, we might have had one blue drink too many but this really was fun.
One blue drink too many?

Strangers become friends over food, paint and travel stories

[next_message styles=”2″ title=”Gathering of the Senses II”]We’re thrilled to bring our second iteration of Gathering Of the Senses on Saturday, March 15th at 5pm. Tickets are $95++ per person. RSVP by calling 414-935-5950 or emailing m1res@marcuscorp.com.

Find more information, including the full menu, visit here.[/next_message]

Last week, artist-in-residence Stephanie Barenz, executive chef Brian Frakes and I hosted an evening of painting, eating and travel story telling. Nine people attended the event, called “Gathering Of The Senses,” which took place in Stephanie’s studio.

Each participant submitted a photo from a recent vacation to trace onto a canvas and then paint after a brief instruction session by Stephanie. Sue’s photo was taken in Ireland; Grace’s in Istanbul; Erin’s in New Orleans; Cathy’s in Amsterdam; Randy’s in Gettsyburg; Hannah’s in Germany and Karen and Lori’s photos were from a trip they took together to Prague.

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Jenni’s photo was from Chicago, but then went on to say she actually had never been to the Windy City. For a moment I was perplexed, but then she explained she came to the event at the last minute with Erin, whose original date was ill and could not attend. (#goodsport!)

During the painting time, the participants told me the stories behind their travel photos / paintings. I felt moved by and connected to much of what they said, especially considering I have been to every place they were painting with the exception of Ireland and Istanbul.

However, both Istanbul and Ireland are high on my lists of places I want to travel.

Just last month, I met a friend in the Pfister’s Lobby Bar after her trip to Instanbul. It was the first trip she took without her husband who had passed away unexpectedly the year before. I was so enamored with her photos and travels I bought a book, “Istanbul” by Orhan Pamuk, and my partner and I vowed to go some day.

I have also always wanted to go to Ireland. I told Sue that even though my name is Molly and my beer of choice is Guinness, I am not Irish (even though people always ask) but I love all things Irish – including my partner who is 5/8th Irish.

Sue’s Ireland story was very touching because even though her mother passed away when she was 12, she felt her presence while visiting the same places she had been as a young girl.

Erin’s story of traveling in New Orleans with her sister was wonderful, too. She said it was during that trip that she and her sister evolved from siblings to true friends. This choked me up a bit as I am somewhat estranged form my sister for reasons that are unclear to me and I also have had some of my best life moments in the city of New Orleans.

The warm and adventuresome stories went on and on. Hannah reunited with family in Germany; Lori and Karen had the time of their lives in Prague despite the rain.

Cathy told us of boating atop the canals in Amsterdam and her husband, Randy, who is a history buff, had a fantastic time in Gettysburg.

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Chef’s dinner was truly a first for me – since I am not much of a foodie – but everything was absolutely delicious, from the firesalt kiln baked beef marrow (served in a bone) to the firecracker tempura mini flounder to milk chocolate malted mousse. The fact that all of the menu items were inspired by chef’s travels made the cuisine even more meaningful.

chef

The four glasses of wine that accompanied the meal got everyone even chattier and sharing more of themselves as the evening went on. This was my favorite part of the event, having the chance to connect with random, fun, interesting people whom I never would have met or gotten to know without the Pfister connection.

“When people come into my studio or to one of my gallery events I usually only get to talk to them for a few minutes,” Stephanie later said to me. “It was wonderful to spend an entire evening with a small group of people and really get to know them. I loved teaching them my painting process, learning about their personal travel stories and sharing a special meal prepared by our Executive Chef.”

A couple days after the event, I looked at photos of all of the finished paintings from the evening and wrote a haiku about each one. I then mailed the haiku on a postcard to each participant. When I dropped the postcards in the mailbox I felt a little wistful as it marked the end of a magical evening.

Would you put this in your coffee?

In my eight months as the Pfister Narrator, I’ve learned a lot about traveling, hotels, art, people and, just last night, trends in coffee.

I sat down next to Ron and Jonathan in the Lobby Bar and noticed they were both enjoying tall, black coffees. We started chatting and I asked them if they were digging their drinks.

“Absolutely,” said Rob. “We love coming here to drink coffee, eat these delicious snacks and listen to Dr. Hollander play the piano.”

“Do you always drink black coffee?” I asked.

“Well not always,” said Jonathan. “Sometimes we put a little butter in them.”

Wait butter? As in butta?

“Yeah,” said Jonathan. “I don’t eat breakfast and I know it’s an important meal and so the butter adds a little nutrition.”

They went on to explain to me that butter also provides a creaminess and richness to the coffee that is really delicious. Even though butter is a dairy like cream – a more common coffee condiment – I still could not wrap my mind around the concept for some reason.

So, I went home and did a quick Google search, only to realize butter in coffee is a thing – a trend – based on an ancient tradition.

Recently, it’s become increasingly practiced because some drinkers find that extra calories increase their energy levels throughout the day. It’s particularly popular among individuals on the heavy in protein / low in carbs “paleo diet.”

There was really only one way to form an opinion on butter coffee and that was, of course, to try it. And so, this morning, I did.

The creaminess of the butter serves the same purpose as milk or cream – it cuts back the bitterness of coffee and adds a silkiness to the drink.

That said, I wont be tossing a stick of butter in my coffee pot anytime soon, but I always appreciate the chance to try something new and step outside my usual routine.

But I’m drawing the line at raw eggs in my coffee. That’s one dairy product that needs to stay far, far away from my  mug.

The 2014 Pfister Artist in Residence Finalists

Congratulations to our six 2014 Artist-in-Residence finalists. Their work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 13th, shop 2013 through February 14th, 2013. The public will be able to vote for Richard & the other 2014 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.17.  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 17th, and you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can read the proposals from each of the finalists by clicking their names below:

Brandon Minga
Dena Nord
Richard Dorbin
Niki Johnson
Jeff Redmon
Stacey Williams-Ng

2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Richard Dorbin

Richard Dorbin – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  I love interacting with people and learning their stories. I also love creating images that have a human narrative. These two loves can dovetail into a new medium for the Pfister Artist-in-Residence: Photography

Imagine an image of a guest’s nightstand, littered with a crumpled wedding invitation, a withered boutonniere, and crumpled tissues. How could an image of “trash” on a nightstand be compelling, emotional, or even artistic?

I believe that I have the experience as an artist, a listener, and a story teller to answer that question and do it in collaboration with guests in the gallery.

There are countless stories to be found in the objects, faces, guests and employees of the Pfister. Those images can be emotionally charged and artistically compelling.

That very collaboration will be the creative process that drives the creation of my art.

Gallery nights will also be collaborative events that will highlight established professionals and aspiring photographers as well as creating exciting, in-the-moment imagery as part of the event.

The gallery space will display an on-going and ever changing collection of images that will tell stories with a unique and textural voice, as well as being host to photography classes for underserved parts of the Milwaukee community.


Richard’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 13th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Richard & the other 2014 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.17.  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 17th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can read the proposals from each of the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Brandon Minga
Dena Nord
Niki Johnson
Jeff Redmon
Stacey Williams-Ng

2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Jeff Redmon

Jeff Redmon – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  The Future Is Now

As the 2014 Pfister Artist in Residence, I will bring a new dimension to the program as the first contemporary abstract painter chose, creating a body of work that stimulates people’s sense, providing excitement, intrigue and inspiration within a world class luxury hotel.

It’s fair to say that the early 21st century digital revolution has had a profound effect on our society as the 19th century industrial revolution had. This makes it an exciting time to be an artist with remarkable new ways to communicate and share creations with a global audience. I plan to take full advantage of the tools at my disposal to create a digital marketing campaign with the goal of physically driving people to my studio at the Pfister for personal interaction and sales.

Bringing the Future is Now to the Pfister is an incredible opportunity to take my artwork/artist practices to the highest level, expanding upon my distinct style of line work and vibrant colors. I will draw inspiration from our amazing city, creating a series of large-scale electrifying paintings, t-shirts, prints and various mixed media pieces.

My studio will have easels with large colorful oil paintings, exploratory drawings, and a cozy living room area for presentations and discussions. I will use paint and markers (removable) to display my latest ideas on my studio windows, creating a live interface, prompting hotel patrons to enter and interact with me.

If chosen, I will proudly carry-on The Pfister Hotel’s legacy of art and art appreciation.


Jeff’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 13th, 2014 through February 14th, 2014.  The public will be able to vote for Jeff & the other 2014 Artist-in-Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.17.  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 17th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can read the proposals from each of the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Brandon Minga
Dena Nord
Richard Dorbin
Niki Johnson
Stacey Williams-Ng