2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Stacey Williams-Ng

Stacey Williams-Ng – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  My current body of work is a series of paintings and drawings of people, who are looking right back at us. These faces, rather than smiling or posing in portrait mode, gaze at the viewer, unaware, as if reacting to a work of art. Capturing the attention of the viewer is the primary focus of most artists – and we wonder, as we put our art into the public eye, what people are thinking and feeling when they see it. In these paintings, strangers stare back at us, in various states of interest, amusement, judgment or boredom.

As I consider this thesis within the context of the Pfister’s residency program, I can imagine how interacting with the public will add a new layer of meaning to the work. These paintings are meant to make us think about what art really is, and how we feel about is, and what role the viewer plays in bringing a work of art to life. What sort of feelings and judgments do the hotel’s guests bring with them when they enter into the Pfister’s doors? What are they thinking? How are they a reflection of who we are?


Stacey’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 Stacey & 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
Jeff Redmon

2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Niki Johnson

Niki Johnson – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  If chosen as the Artist in Residence at the Pfister Hotel, I will create a series of six sculptural child-sized bathtubs decorated to illustrate fairytales written by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.

Fairytales are the earliest narratives that join us culturally to one another. This body of work re-imagines the bathtub as the place where children go before hear bedtime stories. It is my intent with these sculptural works to create dialogue about earliest stories we come to learn, as well as how daily rituals and self-care shape our everyday lives.

I envision my residency in the Pfister artist’s studio as a professional and inspirational experience, where I am allowed the opportunity to share various aspects of my practice with the patrons of the hotel. During my 30-hour workweek in the Pfister artist’s studio, I will primarily be working in oil clay, sculpting and carving features for the bathtubs, and drawing detailed sketches for the components of each piece. As the final sculptures will be made out of cast porcelain, I will be spending additional time in my home studio preparing molds and casting. To encourage a holistic experience for the patrons, I will keep a few molds on display and will also regularly post photographic documentation of the work I do both on and off site on a digital display that I can talk about.

Additionally, I will produce a line of limited edition commemorative plates to match each of these sculptural pieces. They will be available when I begin each tub, as both an aide to help patrons visualize the direction of the work in progress, alongside the drawings and sketches that will be on view.


Niki’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 Niki & 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
Jeff Redmon
Stacey Williams-Ng

2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Dena Nord

Dena Nord – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  When Pfister employees describe the hotel’s famous art collection they mention favorites, its history, and save the best for last – the residency program. One employee described it as “It was a breath of new life. Since the program, the collection has really started to grow.”

Taking that idea of life and growth as inspiration for my proposal, if selected I would create a body of abstract paintings that seem to literally grow on top of the existing collection. I would pick eight to ten pieces to work off of and record my abstract painting interpretations in time-lapse video. Using a technology called augmented reality; I would overlay the process video of my new work on top of the existing collection piece, as well as my original painting. With any smart device, one could download my App and unlock these videos and see how I organically developed the painting. If feeling inspired, I might also tag other things in the hotel that would work well with my new medium of technology and fine art.

In the studio, I would create a living hands-on environment. Guests and employees feeling creative, or public visitors on gallery nights, could paint along with me on a group canvas. I would demonstrate techniques on my current piece and talk about my work, while others follow along on the group canvas.


Dena’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 Dena & 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
Richard Dorbin
Niki Johnson
Jeff Redmon
Stacey Williams-Ng

2014 Artist in Residence Finalist – Brandon Minga

Brandon Minga – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  Built in 1893, The Pfister Hotel has long been known as a historic beacon of Milwaukee and one of the trendiest places to stay and play. In the late 19th century, while the Pfister was becoming the premier spot for Midwest movers and shakers, the hottest trends in fashion, art, food and spirits were also beginning to emerge. It was this juxtaposition of old and new, past and present, that inspired me to create “the Vintage Future” for the Pfister Hotel.

My work will marry the richer history of the Pfister Hotel with the trends of today. I will reimagine historic events like “the Drunkard” and past venues such as “the Old English Tavern” and “the Columns” drawing a contemporary inspiration from the Pfister’s Victorian collection and archives, both image and text. I hope to collaborate with the Pfister’s narrator, chefs, bartenders, and social media partners to create these interactive events, in which we would pair my artwork with food and libations inspired from menus of the past.

“The Vintage Future” will include 15-20 mixed media collages on paper. I will offer limited-edition prints and create related apparel. Much like what Charles Pfister had intended when he concocted his Indian Punch, “the Vintage Future” will be marketed and sold nationwide.


Brandon’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 Brandon & 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:

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

The case of the missing fruit plate

Once every few blue moons, I seem to be in the right place at the right time.

Christmas Eve was one of those nights. I came to the Pfister for a couple of hours before a holiday party and drifted around from the Lobby Bar to the lobby to Blu. During my wanderings, I noticed a family of four in every hotel locale I went to. We were even on the elevator together.

If I were a paranoid person, I would have thought they were following me. Or maybe they thought I was following them …

In any case, by the time we were all at Blu – I had seen them sitting on the couches in the lobby, in the Lobby Bar and on the elevator. Both curiosity and the question of a possible karmic connection made me feel like I had to approach them. Well, the karmic connection part isn’t true, but I was truly curious what was going on because, truth be told, they really didn’t look very happy.

I walked up to the family and told them who I was and asked how they were doing. It turns out, they had been in a series of “who’s on first” mis-communications and were now sitting in Blu still trying to sort it all out.

Here’s the deal: About an hour before, they had ordered two appetizers – nachos and a fruit plate – in the Lobby Bar, but there wasn’t anywhere to sit. So they asked if they could take the appetizers to Mason Street Grill just down the hallway and were told the plates would be sent there shortly. However, when they got to Mason, the restaurant was not open yet and so they went to the concierge who arranged for the appetizers to get sent to Blu. But, lo and behod, when they got to Blu, the staff had not been informed of the plan yet and and so still no appetizers.

“We actually thought you, Molly, were bringing our appetizers when you came up to us,” said the mother / wife.

“Oh,” I said. “I am sorry. I’m just the narrator with a beer in tow.”

I sat down anyway and I started talking with the family of four – Barbara and Ben and their two children – about Detroit. Ben works for Ford and hence he and his family are currently living outside of Detroit. I had just been there twice in a two years, travel writing about the city.

I went on to tell them I did not write a negative article about the city, instead two articles that were about the hopeful aspects of the area from victory gardens to new bars and restaurants in the Corktown neighborhood. Then we started really discussing the ups and downs of one the most controversial and sometimes misunderstood cities in the nation.

Before we knew it, the appetizers were there, along with heartfelt apologies from the staff.

They invited me to parttake in the appetizer eating. And it was Christmas Eve and I was laughing comfortably and enjoying a Guinness with people I just met but with whom felt like friends.

I really love a happy ending. Especially one that ends with food and drink.

 

Reading tea leaves (with pinkies up, of course)

Sometimes, treat as a female, I’m amazed by my lack of stereotypically-female experiences.

The Pfister Hotel, however, is helping me fill in some of my traditional lady blind spots. For example, this summer, I got my first manicure in the spa, and a couple of weeks ago, I went to my very first tea. I even wore a dress.

Although I’m not usually a fancy gal and will usually pick tacos on paper plates over prime rib on China, and the Pfister’s tea was a really fun, comfortable and delicious experience.

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The event takes place on the 23rd floor in the new Club Lounge and the panoramic view of the city is a treat in and of itself. I have always really enjoyed seeing the lake and Downtown Milwaukee from Blu and it’s a slightly different but equally as stunning sight from the lounge.

I also really appreciated the information about tea provided by the tea butler. (Actually, come to think of it, I enjoyed learning the term “tea butler.” I never knew such a job or phrase existed.) The tea opens with the aforementioned butler introducing 12 different teas, passing them around in small jars for our whiffing pleasure and then asking us to choose our leaves of choice.

The teas come from Milwaukee-based Rishi Tea, and include cinnamon plum, tangerine ginger, vanilla bean and chocolate chai, among others.

I picked the Pfister 1893 white tea rose mélange, which was created exclusively for the hotel’s guests. It was presented in a personal, full-sized silver teapot.

For me, finger foods usually mean tortilla chips, but the finger-foody snacks at afternoon tea were way more tasty and adorable. I loved the tiny pinched pie crusts and coin-sized cakes and square sandwiches just a wee larger than the postage stamps on a love letter.

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Actually, I could have written a love letter to the entire experience, but I did something else instead.

After I drank my entire pot of tea I was left with a few stray leaves scattered on the bottom of my cup. I know a little bit about reading tarot cards, but nothing about reading tea leaves. I didn’t let that stop me. I squinted my eyes a little bit and peered into the porcelain cup.

I saw a New Year that was full of abundance and health and opportunity. I saw clarity and kindness and resolve. I saw peace and forgiveness. I saw you, smiling. I saw you, nodding. I saw you, reaching.

At least, these are the things I *wanted* to see in my tea cup. And like the things I want to see in the world, they are there if you squint your eyes, just a little bit, and look for them.

Afternoon tea is held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, Nov. 1, 2013 March 30, 2014, with seatings at 2, 2:30 and 3 p.m. Reservations are required; call (414) 935-5942 or (877) 704-5340.

Eavesdropping, postcards and the lost art of film cameras

I love a coincidence. I really do. I might even take it one hippie-sandaled step further and think about some things as more than a coincidence. But that’s rare.

Recently, recipe I experienced a good ol’ fashioned coincidence at the Pfister Lobby Bar.

I was sitting at the bar, talking to the bartender, Joe, about the group of people who recently stayed at the Pfister to attend the Historic Hotels of America’s annual conference. The event brought more than 75 historic hoteliers from across the country to Milwaukee.

I had the pleasure of chatting with these passionate folks at a social gathering during their stay and learned more about their hotels. (For the record, cialis I now want to go to every single one of them.)

After they left, I wrote a haiku about each hotel and then sent the haiku on a Pfister postcard to them as a thank you for coming to Milwaukee.

I spent an entire Saturday doing this. It took me 13 hours. I did not change out of my skull pajama pants. I became a human haiku factory. I loved every minute of it.

Here’s one of the haiku I wrote. This one’s for the historic Hershey Hotel in Hershey, Penn.

Chocolate check in

At the sweetest place on earth

History unwrapped

I was telling Joe all of this and more, and suddenly, I sensed the woman to my left was deeply engrossed in our story. She was even smiling when he or I cracked a joke.

This does not weird me out. I, too, am an eavesdropper. A dipper. A nosy Nancy. So I turned to her and introduced myself.

She told me her name was Cindy and she couldn’t help overhearing our conversation for two reasons. One, because she often comes to the Lobby Bar to listen in on conversations and two, because she has been working on a postcard project for years.

She went on to tell me her postcard project features hand-colored black-and-white photographs of famous Milwaukee buildings and locations, from the Domes to the stained glass window in the children’s section of the Downtown library.

“I love postcards,” she said.

“So do I,” I said. “And I love listening in on conversations.”

We looked at each other for one second longer than strangers usually look at each other. Then she told me that she feels displaced, maybe even unappreciated (my words, not hers), about being a photographer because, well, everyone is a photographer these days.

Because of this, she really doesn’t dig digital photography and revisited the hand-coloring art form because it’s not as easy to do as whipping out an iPhone.

I told her about when my partner loaded his manual camera with film and the kids gathered around him, fascinated by the process. Later, we got them disposable cameras and when my 9-year-old son accidentally took a picture of his feet, he handed me the camera and said, “How do I delete it?”

“You can’t delete it,” I said. “It’s a film camera. We will drop the camera off at Walgreens and wait a few hours and then go back and look at the photos printed on paper. Some will be good, some will be terrible. We will probably throw those out but that’s part of the fun.”

Cindy looked at me again. This time, maybe, two seconds longer than people usually look at each other. She took a drink of her coffee beverage and said, “Yes. It is fun.”

Santa’s visit!

After last Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, Santa had a  ton of letters to go through just from the children who visited him here at the Pfister (this on top of all of the other letters from across the world). As a testament to the talent that the jolly ol’ man has, and his adoption of technology in the digital age (or maybe it’s just a tech-savvy elf), Santa sent us a brief email along with photos of all the great letters he received from the children of the Pfister, and insisted that we share it with all of you!

Ho ho ho,

Hello there my good friends at The Pfister! I wanted to thank all of you for hosting yet another gorgeous ceremony kicking off the Christmas season at your hotel! It’s always a delight when I make my visits to Milwaukee to include The Pfister in them, and I love leading the countdown to the lighting of your grand tree!

Most importantly though, I love spending time with all of the great girls and boys who attend the tree lighting every year, and those who I get to see each Saturday in December during your “Breakfast with Santa” event.  Year after year, these kids continue to impress me with how smart they are, how exciting they are, and most importantly, with how good they’ve been.

I’ve already dropped my letters back to each of them in the mail, so they should be getting them soon (if they haven’t already), but I’ve enclosed photos that some of my elves helped me take of all the great letters that I got from the children at the lighting ceremony this year.  They were so well written and fun to read that I thought some of your friends might be interested in seeing them too!

I’ve got a busy month ahead of me, but thank you again for welcoming all the great guests along with myself and my lovely wife into your home this and every holiday season!

HO HO HO!

Santa


View all of the letters here!

 

A happy ending for two long-lost sisters

This is a Guest Post by the 5th Pfister Narrator – Jenna Kashou

You might remember back in February, I wrote about two long-lost sisters, Simone from England and Ciera from Milwaukee. Before a visit last year at the Pfister Hotel, they never knew of each other and had both lost contact with their father.

Last week, Kenneth (The Pfister’s front desk manager) and I received the following email out of the blue from Simone:

Hi to you both:

I hope you remember me from February; I visited Milwaukee to meet my sister who I had never met before.

Well thanks to you both, we have a very happy ending. Since you published the blog, we had a chap contact us who had read it on line. He knew our dad from his Vidal Sassoon days and he gave us lots of info and pictures of our dad, which we were both very grateful of.

On Saturday against all hopes, we found our Dad. It was through the Vidal Sassoon network we found him and both Ciera and myself have both corresponded with our Dad.

I personally would like to thank you both so much. If you Kenneth had not given me Jenna’s email, the blog would not have been written and there would not be two very happy daughters in the world right now. I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. Jenna, thank you for taking the time to publish it, without the blog we would never have found him.

It is early days but I hope in the not too distant future I will visit Ciera and together we will see our dad, for me again for Ciera, the first time.

I just wanted you both to know between you, our dreams have come true.

With best wishes and heartfelt thanks,

Simone Ingram

Do you have goosebumps? I certainly did, and do every time I re-read this letter. Just in time for the holidays, it’s a great reminder that our world is smaller than we think, and that magic can happen. Some may say our digital culture has made our world more impersonal.  But through Facebook, Simone found Ciera and through the Pfister blog, they found their father. So here is a great lesson even for the techno-phobes – reach out and connect,  you never know who you may find.

The Packers’ good luck charm

For three decades, Jane has been going to Packers games. She grew up in Kenosha and from the time she turned 16 she drove every year to a game. And every year – EVERY YEAR – the team won.

“Thirty years, 30 games, 30 wins,” she says.

Jane now lives in Florida with her husband, Lenny. They still come to Wisconsin every year for a Packers game. And they always stay at the Pfister Hotel. I met her during her most recent visit at the Pfister’s Lobby Bar.

“I have a long history of memories at the Pfister. I started coming here with my parents as a kid. We’d drive to Milwaukee for a show at The Rep and always stop here,” she says.

Jane grew up in a family with six children in a “castle house.” She was born after three brothers, but her love for football came from within herself – not from them. Jane comes from a long line of female fans, including her grandmother who told stories of sitting on her grandfather’s shoulders at the old City Stadium – the Packers’ home field from 1925 to 1956 – before there were seats for spectators.

She also realized early on that her outward passion for the game was not shared by all.

“I went to my first sleepover at Ellen Perry’s house in fourth grade. We watched a football game with her family – the Packers were playing the Bears – and whenever the Packer got a first down I would scream my head off, jump up and down. Ellen’s family just looked at me like I was nuts. Later I told my parents about this, and my mom said, ‘you know, Jane, not everyone reacts that way to football.’ I was floored,” says Jane.

Jane has had the same license plate “PCKRS1” for many years and brought an expired one to Brett Favre’s Steakhouse in Green Bay. The manager thanked her for it, but the next year when she and Lenny returned to the restaurant, it was not hanging with the other plates. So they asked the manager where it was.

“Brett told us he wanted it in his special showcase (in a special room at the restaurant),” says Jane, beaming.

Her thoughts on the controversial Favre?

“I love Brett Favre. I look at him for his work. What happened in his personal life … whatever. I grew up rooting for a first down – not even a touchdown – and then Brett came into our lives and gave us so much,” she says. “He has a great body of work and that’s all I respect.”

Jane then shares that she works in the health care industry and it all comes full circle.

“You’re a healer! No wonder the team wins every game when you’re there,” I say.

Jane raises her drink. “Go Packers,” she says.

The next day, Jane attended her 31st Packers game. And the Packers beat the Cleveland Browns, 31-13.

Of course they did.