Meet Julie Ferris: The Pfister Narrator

The Pfister Hotel is proud to introduce Julie Ferris as our first-ever Pfister Narrator. Julie is a wonderful talent and we are glad to have her capture some of the wonderful stories that take place within our hotel each day. So if you see Julie in the lobby, search please say hi and start up a conversation. Julie will be posting her stories on the Pfister blog twice-per-week over the next six-months. Check back often and see what exciting and unique experiences she shares with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.

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Meet Julie Ferris: The Pfister Narrator from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

ThirdCoast Digest: The Pfister names a Narrator: Welcome, Julie Ferris

By: Judith Ann Moriarty of ThirdCoast Digest

Link to Original Article.

I’ve never met Julie Ferris face to face, buy viagra though I did watch a video tape of her answering questions about how she might best fit into the Pfister Hotel’s Narrator residency. The scene was in a private room just off the mezzanine area, where five review panelists met over a period of two weeks, the endpoint being one writer, selected from a field of twenty, who would serve as Narrator for six months.

The quality of the applications was impressive, and as a panelist I spent hours reading each and every word.

My choice was not Julie Ferris. But I was only one panelist. The other three felt strongly that she should emerge as the winner. And that’s fine with me. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. I hate to brag, but my grandpa graduated from the U of I in the 1870’s.

You certainly made a good impression during the taped interview: good eye contact, a big smile and no hesitation in your presentation. I was startled, perhaps because I expected the stereotypical writer, you know, someone shy and introspective…the tweed and horn-rimmed glasses type. Were you ever that person?

Yup. I sure was. Maybe not horn-rimmed, but definitely awkward… I always felt introverted, but no one would believe that. I’m open and energetic with friends and family, but I can be shy. I’ve just learned that functioning in this world means walking up to someone when you want something and offering a handshake.

Though I always feel shy and awkward, I am that person who will tell you that there’s mustard on your lip or something on your teeth. I’ve just learned over the years it’s better to push yourself to engage other people. Life is too short to always be afraid of what they’ll think of you.

You work in City Hall, a politician’s throw from the Pfister where you will conduct 10 hrs of interviews (per week) and then shape and post on the Pfister Hotel blog two takes on your experiences. I’ve sat in that lobby recently and noticed that most of the lobby loungers are busy gazing into their cell phone screens. Will it be a problem getting people interested in being interviewed? To them, you’ll be a stranger. Right? How are you going to handle that?

I spent the summer doing environmental theater at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Granted, people who paid their entrance fee into the Faire were prepared to be approached by actors in funny costumes with bad accents…but still, it wasn’t as hard as you think to simply talk to someone. People want it and need it; sometimes they just don’t realize it.

I rode the bus one day sitting next to a quiet grandmother who stuck tight to her side of the seat. We watched a seemingly undisciplined teenage boy with drooping pants move out of the front seats to make room for an elderly man with a cane. The boy even helped the man to his seat. For all the attitude the young man had, we were both surprised.

The woman finally turned to me and patted my arm and said “Wasn’t that just so nice?” She just HAD to express something to someone about that moment and we had shared it so she turned to me to do it. I think people can engage. I’m banking on it.

So if you graduated from the great University of Iowa, you must have some fave writers who either attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, or taught at the university.Care to share?

I went to Iowa as a rhetorician. I had three other programs I was offered, but I am from the Midwest and Iowa was very close to home. It was also ranked the top program in the country so my father just said “Do it! If the number one school wants you, you should want them!”

In the back of my head, I secretly wished that in the five years I was there I’d meet John Irving. Plenty of other fantastic writers were a part of the university community and many more have gone on to earn great accolades, but I had grown up on Irving and in many of his books, he writes about his time at Iowa. I wanted to feel what he wrote and then meet him. Sadly, he never came through while I was there.

I did spend time with Pam Houston, my personal favorite, when she launched her first non-fiction memoir. That was a favorite moment.

Did you ever have ambitions to be a novelist, say in the manner of Joyce Carol Oates or any of the many other fine American writers?

I did and I do. I always wanted to be a writer, but also wanted many other things and followed those paths. When serving as an assistant professor, at conferences and more I would explain that my next career would be novelist. Another faculty member at a conference or some such said “Oh, yes, that makes you a true academic. We all think we have a fiction book in us.” And the people standing there all nodded in agreement. I didn’t like that moment, I wanted to feel that I was different.

I left academia and finally had the time to scratch out the book, which is about halfway finished and begs for my attention.

Six months, ten hours per week, $1,000 per month. Do you get free lunches? Did you know the café serves a sandwich named after Senator Herb Kohl? He dines there frequently, but a waiter told me the Senator never orders his namesake sandwich. Big couches and chairs, a blazing fireplace, an intimate bar. Sounds like a good gig to carry you through winter. But dangerous perhaps?

I think dangerous isn’t the word as much as “addictive.” I enjoy people. And the Pfister has so many events, nooks and crannies to find them in, and now in this role, I am official.  I’m like the Velveteen Rabbit—I’ve been made real. I’m no longer just some lady talking to a person—I’m supposed to be talking to people, it’s on my nametag! With that kind of sanctioning, I wonder if I’ll find myself addicted to the atmosphere and the people and the problem won’t be getting it done, the problem will be stopping.

The Pfister Narrator Julie Ferris: The Celebration of Family

Following is Julie Ferris’s first entry as Pfister Narrator. It was selected as the winning sample blog post by The Pfister Narrator review panel, who chose her for this position.

The Celebration of Family

The rowdy din of the Pfister lobby on a Saturday night is electric. The crowd is a collage of wedding guests, diners and those reluctant to return to their rooms for fear of missing the excitement.

The wedding groups bring an array of generations, elaborate garb and intoxicating anticipation. A beautiful chorus of older women, bedecked in colorful suits that would put Coco Chanel to shame, were beaming in the lounge and I had to be a part of their magic.

I sat next to the gorgeous octogenarian in teal and she welcomed me with a pat on my hand and started talking. She’s the great aunt of the groom, visiting from Michigan, and there to support her niece. The groom’s mother had lost her husband far too young six years ago and needed familial support. I was honored to hold these intimacies with Jalilah; sharing her personal concerns for her family made me feel like an old friend. As she continued to explain her family, she said firmly, “we support each other.”

“We” was the Arabic culture from which she hailed. The family’s roots were in “The Old Country”– Palestine. Watching these four elderly aunts waiting for the next step in the festivities was infectious. They had the ease and carefree character that come with age and wisdom. No one picked at her suit, adjusted her hair or checked her make up. They knew it was impeccable and they knew, in the long run, it didn’t matter.

“We’re waiting for the party bus,” Jalilah announced. Another aunt, who couldn’t hear over the excitement, nodded vigorously. “I don’t know where they’re taking us,” Jalilah said, “but it will be fun, I’m sure!”

It was important to Jalilah that they traveled for the wedding. “We like to party. This wedding is only three days; in the Old Country, we party for a week!” She never stopped smiling and it was clear that it wasn’t just that she shared excitement with me, but wanted to impart a kind of wisdom—family supports one another, family travels to be there, family celebrates.

As the time came for the aunts to board the bus, Jalilah patted my hand and held my arm and told me to enjoy my night. I wished her safe travels and a good wedding and in that moment, she was my great aunt, too.

The Pfister Narrator: Historic Hotel Selects First-Ever In-House Journalist

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee has named Julie Ferris as its first-ever Pfister Narrator. In the role, she will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories on the Pfister’s blog. As Pfister Narrator, she will be posting blog entries twice-per-week over a six-month period.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen for the position and am very eager to begin,” Ferris says. “I look forward to all the meaningful opportunities before me to really experience both visitors and natives of our city, all linked to this one iconic space. I know everyone has a story to share and I’m ready to grow from each and every one of them.”

An established blogger, Ferris also has experience in teaching, management, public relations and media writing. She holds a Ph.D. in mass communications and journalism from The University of Iowa.

Ferris was chosen to serve as narrator from a significant pool of qualified applicants by a review panel, which included Jeff Sherman, president of OnMilwaukee.com; Judith Moriarty, a longtime local writer; and several representatives from the hotel.

“The success we’ve seen with our Artist-In-Residence program has encouraged us to focus even more on the interactive experiences guests enjoy at our hotel,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “Our guests have a special connection to The Pfister and interesting stories to tell—we’re excited to share their unique experiences and backgrounds with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.

“We’re confident the narrator program will be a huge success,” adds Kurth. “In fact, we’ve already received interest from writers from across the country who are interested in duplicating the concept of the Pfister Narrator in their hometowns.”

More information about the Pfister Narrator program and an application form for the next narrator position—due March 1, 2011—can be found at ThePfisterHotel.com/Pfister-Narrator.

The Pfister Narrator: Historic Hotel Selects First-Ever In-House Journalist from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

Pfister Narrator: The review process has started!

In our previous post about The Pfister Narrator program, we mentioned how speechless we were about all the entries we’ve received. The review process has started.

Judith Ann Moriarty gives some insight in to the initial meetings with the selection panel. Check back for updates. We look forward to introducing our new Pfister Narrator soon.

Search for Next Artist-In-Residence

Tradition inspires tradition at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel. Home to more Victorian Art than any other hotel in the world, medicine The Pfister is currently seeking its next Artist-in-Residence.

Entering its third year, The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working art studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of each piece first-hand.

Since its inception, cialis the program has gained significant popularity and attracted national attention. Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, visited the program during a recent trip to Milwaukee.

“The Pfister Hotel is the only hotel I know of that has an artist in residence,” Landesman said. “We met the artist—painter Katie Musolff—and she is a very accomplished young woman. She actually works at the hotel, so you can go into her studio there and watch her work and see the finished product. She keeps certain office hours so people can come in and observe what she’s doing. It’s a pretty neat thing to see a hotel make that kind of commitment to the arts.”

“For decades, The Pfister has hosted the much acclaimed Victorian Art Collection,” adds Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister. “We want to expand on our reputation as a destination hotel for art connoisseurs by offering our guests and the public a glimpse into the world of art as it is being created – in real time, by amazingly talented artists.”

Each year, The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence is chosen to fill the role from a pool of highly qualified candidates based on artistic process, personality and a public vote. The next artist, replacing Musolff, will move into the studio space April 1, 2011 and will continue working at the hotel for a one-year period.

The deadline to apply for the program is Dec. 1, 2010. Interested artists can download the application form at www.thepfisterhotel.com/artistinresidence.

10 Years of Blu Anniversary Party

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 10 year anniversary Party of Blu. We hope you had as much fun as we had.

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Experience live, prostate acoutiscal music every Saturday from 8pm – Midnight beginning this weekend. Here is the schedule of artists.

Saturday, Oct 16                                     Ethan Keller

Saturday, Oct 23                                     Blonde on Blonde

Saturday, Oct 30                                     Colin O’Brien

Saturday, Nov 6                                       Litmus Vinyl

Saturday, Nov 13                                     Greg Flattery

Saturday, Nov 20                                     Ryan McIntyre

Saturday, Nov 27                                     Evan Christian

Saturday, Dec 4                                       Chris Demay

Saturday, Dec 11                                      The WhiskeyBells

Saturday, Dec 18                                      Kyle Feerik

Pfister Narrator: The entries are in!

Wow.

We are speechless. Just…Wow!

Thank you everyone for the overwhelming response to the Pfister Narrator program. We have a binder bursting full of entries.

Seriously, we do!

Furthermore, thank you to The Writer magazine, Poets & Writers magazine and ThirdCoast Digest for spreading the word about the program and preaching the Pfister’s commitment to the arts.

A review panel is currently evaluating all the applications and we will have our Pfister Narrator selected in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned to the Pfister Blog to find out who will be the first Pfister Narrator.

Fall Gallery Night

Hello-Hello

So, this Friday is Gallery Night again, and once again you are invited to come and see the progress made in my studio at the Pfister Hotel.  Then, after all of the galleries close down, come to the Rouge Ballroom, just off of the lobby of the hotel for the after party. There will be a cash bar and complementary food.

Work by Milwaukee artists Eriks Johnson and Chris Miller will be the featured in the ballroom.

Here’s the schedule.

Oct 15, Friday: Open studio 5-10pm

After party in the Rouge: 9-11:30pm

Oct 16, Saturday: Open Studio 10-4pm

Come on by, and hang out after seeing all of your favorite shows.  I’d love to see you.

Katie Musolff