The Crystal Narrator

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

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

Stephanie Barenz
Stephanie Barenz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Tonia Klein

Tonia Klein – Milwaukee, WI

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Sue Lawton

Sue Lawton – Milwaukee, WI

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Tonia Klein

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Stephanie Barenz

Stephanie Barenz – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: “THE CARRIERS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

 

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson – Wauwatosa, WI

 

Proposal: As the 2013 Pfister Artist in Residence I will engage Pfister visitors in dialog about the correlations and contrasts between Victorian Art and my style of painting, the Abstract Expressionist style.

Victorian Art’s vibrant colors evoked high society during the 19th century.  Brighter emotional colors and dynamic strokes were used to record the culture of the time.  The Abstract Expressionism movement was the first Art Movement formally developed in America. Exiled European artists and young American Artists found themselves conversing about the times. This stimulating dialog resulted in creation of dynamic, vibrant artworks.  The Abstract movement began as the last of the art movements of the Victorian era were ending.  I feel that the technological advances that the Victorian era made allowed the way scientists, artists and the public viewed art and aesthetics.  This began to pave the way for a new art period to begin. The visual appeal of my canvasses recognizes this through intense use of color. I have been studying the Abstract Expressionist Artists, developing my own techniques and interpretation of their artistic style.

My plan is to select 8 works from the Pfister Victorian Art Collection to study and paint my interpretation of the motions and colors used in the collection.  I will display artwork from the Pfister Collection that inspired me and explore the poetic interchange of color and emotions with the visitors in the gallery.  My legacy piece will be a work created from expanding on the possibilities of this medium and approach.

I am looking forward to my growth and education if honored to be the next Pfister Artist in Residence.

The works that speak to me for this exploration and dialog are:

  1. Incense – Roberto Bompiani
  2. Grecian Girl – Antonio Torres
  3. Music – Cesare Auguste Detti
  4. Flirtation – Georges Achille-Fould
  5. The Rose – Adolphe Piot
  6. A View of Venice – Charles Clement Calderon
  7. The Poppy Field – Louis Aston Knight
  8. Confidences – Federigo Andreotti

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

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

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

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – John Kowalczyk

John Kowalczyk – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: MKE: A City With 4 Seasons

If given this opportunity, I will create four distinct bodies of work for the gallery nights. Each body of work will include fifteen paintings and the general inspiration will be one of the four seasons. Currently I am working on a winter collection.  By limiting myself to the use of red, black and white and utilizing hard edge geometry, I capture the feeling of winter’s wind visually. There will be layers of narrative along with layers of materials.  Paint, fabric, handmade paper, ribbons, repurposed prints all become elements of the collage. I will involve the community by interviewing people about their experiences with the seasons in Milwaukee and translate their stories into my abstract paintings.  The community could create collage material with me or bring materials to be used in the finished painting.

My work is 2D and 3D inhabiting the space between painting and sculpture.  I am interested in the play between folk and fine art. I illustrate this by mixing materials that elevate in a fine art context. I will personify the seasons, infused with the communities’ stories, with my paintings to result in a body of work accessible to everyone, yet layered with hidden treasures.

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

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

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

Eddie Villanueva
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

 

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Eddie Villanueva

Eddie Villanueva – Milwaukee, WI

Proposal: If you grant me the opportunity to become the next Pfister Hotel Artist in Residence, I will accomplish the following objectives.  I will develop a new body of acrylic and oil paintings based on my response to the bustling environment of the hotel, it’s lavish architecture, and it’s rich history. I will average approximately one painting a week which will vary in size between 11″x14″ and 36″x48″. While I will exhibit my paintings throughout the year, I will also use the space to curate challenging contemporary exhibitions of national and international emerging artists working in a range of critical practices.  Furthermore I will initiate a series of forums, visiting artist talks, and other community building programs that will offer a bridge between the hotel and the local, national and international art community.  If I am granted the position of Artist in Residence not only will I eagerly develop my own work, I will use the tools of my emerging professional practice to help develop the potential of this great opportunity and its relationship to the community at large.

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

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

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

John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein