Creativity is Everybody’s Business

Maggie Kuhn Jacobus is not your typical executive. Nor is she your typical mom. After a successful carrer as an entreprenuer, writer, producer, marketer, and public relations exec, she took a six-year sabbatical to raise her kids in the lush and far-flung tropics of Costa Rica because she wanted to give them a creative and enriching childhood. “Select soccer and routines were the things I feared most,” she admits.

Maggie Keuhn Jacobus
Maggie Keuhn Jacobus

Kuhn Jacobus is back in her hometown of Milwaukee with teenage boys. She took the position of President and Executive Director of the Creative Alliance  in January and is passionate about linking, leveraging, promoting, and growing the creative industries in the Milwaukee region.

“Creativity is everybody’s business,” she insists at a reception in Cafe Rouge on Thursday night.  It’s evident that not only with her impressive professional resume, but also by her own personal choices that she is just the risk-taker Milwaukee needs to prove the impact of the creative industries on our local economy. Kuhn is a “Glass half full” type of leader and says “Risk is about possibility. We have to ask ourselves what can we do with what we have here in Milwaukee?”

Creative industries are responsible for $2 billion in wages here in Wisconsin, contributing to our region’s vibrancy. But until industries stop working in sillos, growth and development cannot happen. So, the Creative Alliance is set on connecting commerce and creatives.

The Creative Alliance is partnering with the Pfister’s Artist in Residence program and hopes to add more creativite residencies to corporations in MIlwaukee, among a long list of other tactics to bring the creative industry to the forefront of economic discussion.

Stephanie Barenz, the Pfister’s current Artist in Residence, also spoke to the crowd about her work as a full-time creative professional working in a corporate setting.  She is currently working on both a mentoring program with students at St. Marcus School (where her husband is a teacher) to teach them about writing and painting as well as a body of work entitled “The Carriers,” which explores how travel affects our perception of home. What a fitting proposal for a working studio in a historic hotel. Several of her intricate and thought-provoking paintings were on display, along with a diverse body of work from past Artist in Residence finalists.

Stephanie Barenz's artwork on display
Stephanie Barenz’s artwork on display

To really hit home her point, Kuhn Jacobus invited her favorite local band, Painted Caves, to serenade the crowd with exotic sounds, while they mingled and discussed how enriching and vital the arts truly are. The whole event was well choreographed and engaged like a creative leader does best.

 

Painted Caves
Painted Caves

 

 

Stephanie Barenz Named as the Fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence

The Pfister is thrilled to announce that we’ve named Stephanie Barenz as the fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence.  Stephanie will begin her residency on April 1st after our current and fourth Artist, Timothy Westbrook ends his.  Stephanie was chosen by the Pfister’s selection committee made up of community leaders in the arts and other disciplines.  You can learn more about Stephanie at her website, stephaniebarenz.com.

Additionally, finalist Eddie Villanueva finished first in the public round of voting and will receive a solo art show at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel.

Background

“The Pfister is the perfect stage for my work, which deals with how travel affects one’s relationship to place,” said Barenz. “The hotel carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The Victorian art collection, the antiques, and spaces have served as silent witnesses to all of it.”

“Over the course of the year, I plan to create a body of work that will include 20 to 30 paintings. Images of these paintings will be turned into a book and I plan to collaborate with the Pfister Narrator, the hotel’s writer in residence, to write text for the images. I am so looking forward to moving into the studio, starting my project, and getting to know more of the Milwaukee community through my platform at The Pfister.”

Barenz primarily paints and draws on wood panels using a range of media, including acrylics, sumi ink, and pencil. A Milwaukee-area resident for the past two years, she currently works as a full-time artist at Plaid Tuba, the studio of The Pfister’s first Artist in Residence, Reginald Baylor. With extensive experience teaching and studying art, Barenz has taught in Southeast China, studied in Florence, Italy, and completed a one-year residency at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

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 woudl 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.

Work Samples

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.

Winter Fashion, Westbrook Style

Since starting his residency, Timothy Westbrook has had Milwaukee talking. At 23, he’s the youngest of the Pfister’s artists in residence, the first artist from out of state (Timothy hails from Wanakena, New York), and the first fiber artist (all other artists were painters).

On Friday, January 18th, he had jaws dropping.

He presented his final fashion event to coincide with Milwaukee’s winter Gallery Night and it was spectacular, to say the least. Timothy showed 17 looks (Yes, that’s right, in only eight months he’s woven the fabric by hand and constructed 17 looks). The models were striking in both appearance and attitude. The bold makeup and hair styles were courtesy of students from the Academy of Waukesha, a Paul Mitchell partner school. All of the looks were for sale as well – wearable art pieces ranging from $500- $23,000.

copyright Zachary Seib
copyright Zachary Seib

A squabble of photographers, like geese, stood attentively with  lenses up, ready to shoot the runway that split the Imperial ballroom in two camps of fans from every walk of life. Timothy’s clothing was constructed from re-purposed materials like vintage curtains,  plastic grocery bags, upholstery swatches, bedsheets, green Pfister umbrellas, and his signature, cassette tape film.

Because he was feeling a little homesick and didn’t want his emotions to get the best of him,  he cleverly recorded his opening remarks on one of his beloved cassette tapes. It was an incredibly telling moment, especially for those who have yet the pleasure to make his acquaintance. He’s quirky and incredibly kind. He’s professional with very clear vision and high standards, making it an honor to work alongside him at the Pfister.

I am no fashion critic, but I know what I like when it comes to aesthetics and Timothy, along with stylist Alexis Rose Criscimagna, achieved a beautiful balance of Avant-Garde and Victorian. Imagine a punk reconstruction of  Susan B. Anthony. But rather than critique his work, I want to tell you about Timothy Westbrook the person.

Brimming with character, with a penchant for fantasy, Timothy reveals that all he ever wanted to do was tell fairy tales. And through his work, he is doing just that. He loves unicorns, gesticulates wildly when he gets excited and makes everybody feel welcome, all the time. Timothy even  displays other artists’ work in his gallery.

Timothy will be in residence through March. Don’t miss out on meeting him before he becomes super famous. I for one, feel so happy that he’s woven his way into the fabric of the Milwaukee community. Timothy will reveal his legacy piece for the Pfister Hotel on March 29,  at an event open to the public. Check back for more details and become a fan of Timothy’s  Facebook page for more event coverage.

 

Photos courtesy of Zachery Seib Photography.

Fred Pfister: Part 2 of 2

“My grandmother used to save this stuff and my mother was a saver too. Now that I am all alone in the house, rather than just throw it away, I wanted a way to preserve it,” Fred Pfister said about the beautiful handmade clothing his grandmother created. We couldn’t be more flattered that he has entrusted the Pfister Hotel to preserve his family’s legacy. Before we tuck  away these artifacts for safe keeping, Timothy and I felt such unique, delicate garments deserved one more walk around the hotel. And lucky for me, they fit like a glove.

The maroon jacket, made from traditional linen with decorative, silk ribbon appliques, dates back to the early 1900s. The wicker boning on the inside was very rare for the time; most tailors used whale bone. Fred’s grandmother Margaret made the jacket for herself – she sewed all of her own clothes. Timothy helped me carefully place the jacket over my shoulders and immediately I felt like a character in a black-and-white photograph. The sophisticated bun perched atop my head, created by the WellSpa, solidified my look as a true Gibson Girl pin-up of the Belle Epoque.

The pink satin dress belonged to Fred’s mother, Helen. She loved to dance. The cool satin cascaded down my body, stopping to rest on each curve. As I slipped into it, I felt myself morph into Helen Pfister. Fred explained that his grandmother made the dress for Helen to attend a wedding party.  The above-the-ankle hemline and flared bottom allowed for movement when she would glide and turn. Helen loved to waltz, but she didn’t care much for  the flappers – she thought they were too risque. Helen waltzed right into the arms of her husband Fredrick Pfister at the Milwaukee Club (right across the street for the Pfister Hotel) and spent the next 60 years of her life with him.

Helen’s silk crepe blouse was originally black, but over the years, has faded to a rich olive hue. It’s embellished with iridescent glass beads and a high, pointed collar. Both the blouse and the dress date back to the late thirties, though paired with denim, the blouse looks contemporary and chic.

Thank you to Fred, who allowed us to revitalize these objects of art and preserve the memory of Margaret Faubel and Helen Pfister. Fred dutifully cared for his mother until she died in 2003 at the age of 94.

To see part one of the Fred Pfister story, click here. All photos courtesy of Carol Rice Kraco and Kraco Photography.

 

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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