The Next Pfister in Residence Finalists

Gallery M in the Intercontinental. Patrons get to know the finalists and their work.

This January’s gallery night tested the courage of every driver. The six finalists for the Pfister Hotel’s next Artist in Residence displayed their work in Gallery M at the Intercontinental. I braved the seven block walk from my Wisconsin Avenue home base and spent an evening taking in the feel of a different hotel in the Marcus family. Please help us by voting for our next resident artist on our Facebook Page. For anyone not on Facebook, you can enter your ballot in person at Gallery M, or email with your selection. Below is what I was able to briefly glean about the artists and their work, feel free to click their names and see more. For larger views of any photo, click on the picture and then click the image again after the photo opens by itself. Vote early, vote often!


Hal Koenig

Hal Koenig's wall display at Gallery M.

Hal is an architect who studied at North Dakota State University and with further study at UW-Madison. He grew up on a North Dakota farm and now lives in Bay View. Hal enjoys highlighting the juxtaposition of nature in urban environments, of which Milwaukee has an unending supply.

Hal Koenig's painting Dusk.












Pamela Anderson

Works on display by Pamela Anderson.

In Pamela’s paintings she utilizes acrylic, oil, and watercolor to represent emotion. Her work can be classified as abstract expressionism. Ms. Anderson has studied at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts and MIAD. She previously curated the Underwood Gallery in Wauwatosa. Pamela has since taken the plunge and is working as a full-time artist.

Two works by Pamela Anderson.











Matt Duckett


Examples of Matt Duckett's work.

Matt’s trip from LaCrosse took 6 hours in the snow but he did make it to Milwaukee. Unfortunately I’d already taken off for the night so the following information comes from his webpage.  Matt studied both Art and English at UW LaCrosse and UW Stout. His work has been shown and commissioned all over Wisconsin and Minnesota. Matt is the founder and director of Vitamin Studio, a standout in LaCrosse’s developing arts district.

My favorite of Matt Duckett's portraits, The Turn.













Albin Erhart

Albin Erhart's display chronicles his experience applying for the Artist in Residence position.

Albin is an exuberant ball of energy. His works on display chronicle his attempt at becoming the Pfister’s next resident artist. Each work represents his experience and emotion throughout the process of applying all the way up to being selected as a finalist. His toolbox is not limited to paint and brushes, for example he explores with markers and sometimes even re-purposing thrift store canvasses. Albin is originally from Southern Germany but now lives in Hartland.

Detail of one of Albin Erhart's marker-based works













Brandon Minga

Brandon Minga's work relaxing with champagne.

Brandon is a designer by trade. Web design, clothing design, footwear, tattoos, album covers. The guy keeps busy. Brandon is a graduate of MIAD. His work on display in Gallery M features paint, digital prints, found objects, drawing, and most works are encompassed within unique custom frames. He works in a collage style, which is sometimes three dimensional.

Detail of one of Brandon's 3-D collage pieces.












Timothy Westbrook

Two of Timothy Wesbrook's creations.

Timothy is the first artist to apply from outside of the immediate Milwaukee area. Having recently graduated from Syracuse University, Tim is looking to stretch out to new locales to further his form. Tim’s work can be most easily described as costume design. His garments are created from a combination of common fabrics (wool, for example) mingling with uncommon threads such as cassette tape. Tim discussed his work with gallery attendees while dressed in a tuxedo of his own creation.

Two more of Timothy Westbrook's works.






Detail of one of Timothy's garments. This piece was commissioned for a theatrical production.

Milwaukee’s Favorite Cookie – 2011

Congratulations to Anna Baird-Luedke, for winning the Cookie Crown!

Milwaukee’s favorite cookie is the White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread cookie.

The winning baker was chosen by culinary experts from Marcus Restaurants and received a special overnight stay and dinner for two at The Pfister, InterContinental Milwaukee or Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Plus, the winning cookie was donated to Hope House of Milwaukee.

Stop by Mason Street Grill, Kil@wat, or Milwaukee ChopHouse during the month of January to give the winning cookie a try.

Print the recipe here: White Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies.


Faith, Family and Friends

This Sunday, thousands of women who were breast cancer survivors and fighters, along with their friends, families and supporters, gathered in the rain at the lakefront for the annual Susan G. Komen race for the cure.  Somewhere in that crowd were some folks likely staying the night in one of the InterContinental Hotel’s Pink Rooms.

Just last Thursday, only a few days before the race, a large crowd gathered in the lobby of the InterContinental (a sister hotel to the Pfister, in the Marcus Hotels family) to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Pink Rooms.  Servers circled around the room, offering up appetizers and specialty pink cocktails, while attendees mingled.  A tree sprouted from the tile floor, its bare branches pinched by pink ribbons featuring handwritten names of loved ones who had fought breast cancer.  Perhaps symbolically, the tree was slated for the woodchipper but has been given new life, donated by the city for the purpose of spreading hope.  Each ribbon tied to it was paid for with a $5 donation and features the name of a breast cancer survivor, and will stay up through October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Some of the women, in pink blouses, sweaters, jackets or scarves, stopped by the WELL Spa + Salon table where they could sample services.  A large pink ribbon cake was held aloft next to several dozen mini pink cupcakes.  It was a lot of pink.  Even the men wore pink – mainly in their ties and shirts.

All of these people were here to celebrate an idea that started over a year ago when three hotel employees – Bridget Gallagher, Sarah Geitner and Susan Cusatis – came up with the idea to offer up a themed room in support of breast cancer.  With the support of Steve Marcus, the hotel’s general manager Tim Smith and local designer Beth Howley worked with Bridget, Sarah and Susan to design two rooms, with pink accents and special artwork.  The cost of staying in one of these rooms goes to support ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, a network of survivor-mentors and recently diagnosed mentees.  A year later, the rooms have provided a lush overnight experience to 480 guests from 21 states and 6 countries, and the board president was presented with a very large check (really, it was an oversized cardboard check!) in the amount of $8,150.

Everyone I spoke to was there because they, or someone they knew, had been touched by breast cancer: a personal fight, or that of a family member, spouse, boss, or co-worker.  There were photos blown up and perched on stands, each showing a pair of smiling women, who had connected through intensive work akin to matchmaking.  One committee member explained how ABCD is different, being “all about free, one-to-one support.  We match survivors with participants who’ve been recently diagnosed.  They’re like you, from a similar background, and the matches aren’t just for the new patient, but also for the spouse, child, friend – whoever needs that extra, personal support.”  Mentors are trained extensively in areas of continued education and interpersonal skills.

“May you sit in this chair and enjoy life, appreciate your family and friends, and with your faith, continue to dream.” -Marge Vetter

As ABCD surpasses geographical boundaries, networking women together in a chain of hope and support, so the Pink Rooms have done the same even here at this cocktail party, which is flush with happiness, not sadness, hope, not hopelessness.  Other groups in Milwaukee, each with a different angle, but all working together, had members eager to share their stories, and connect to others.

I met Kathie Walker, an 11yr survivor of breast cancer, who is a member of the Milwaukee chapter of Sisters Network, a national network focusing on African American women.  Kathie explained how their work is increasingly in untapped neighborhoods, as they cross cultural lines in order to “nip it in the bud wherever we can find it.”  “It” being awareness and education, which can be difficult when organizations don’t feature diversity.  “It’s all about the testimony.  It’s your biggest sell point, and women will listen to women who are like them.”

This idea, the commonality needed in connecting women who are like each other, in order to teach awareness and cultivate support, was also evident in the testimony of Kate Kucharski, a young woman who was diagnosed in 2008, at age 32.  A healthy, non-smoker, with no family history of cancer, Kate was diagnosed completely out of the blue.  She had an aggressive tumor and went through 16 rounds of chemo, putting her cancer into remission in April 2009.  Engaged when she was diagnosed, her fiancee couldn’t deal with the stress and broke up with her in the middle of it all.  She felt like things were falling apart.  But, “things happen for a reason,” this bright-eyed, broadly-smiling blond told me.  “I’m the type of person to go out, do something, and finish it.” So, she reached out to other young women affected by breast cancer and created Milwaukee’s Young Survivor Coalition in January 2011.  Drawing its circle around the 45 and under crowd, they are a network of 40 young survivors who offer monthly events for socializing, education, and support.  Young cancers have a higher mortality rate, and the young women found their concerns were different than the older survivors they spoke to: a 19yr old is worried about college, engagement, a baby on the way, and having really young survivors who have been in remission for years is very encouraging.

“I’m winning the fight, and helping other girls win, too.” concluded Kate, in a sentence that perfectly summarized the purpose of ABCD, the Sisters Network, and the Pink Rooms.

The work that these women are doing via their organizations, along with the hard work of friends, family, and other supporters is what continues to keep people hopeful that should they, or someone they know, be affected by cancer, they can find reasons to fight and people who will fight with them.

7-Course Nickel & Nickel Wine Dinner

Please join us for the Nickel & Nickel Wine Dinner at The Pfister on Wednesday, purchase July 20, 2011, in The Rouge Ballroom. $125.00  per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity).

Marcus Restaurants’ talented chefs – Robert Ash, buy viagra Mark Weber, David Zakroczymski and Brian Frakes – invite you to an exclusive wine dinner featuring celebrity vintner Beth Nickel. Together, the chefs will prepare a 7-course meal, paired with specially selected wines from the Nickel & Nickel winery in Napa Valley.

The reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m

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Reservations are limited, please call and reserve your space today!  800-558-8222 or email

Reservations are limited.  Based on availability.  Wine Dinner available on July 20, 2011 only.   Dinner is held in the Rouge Ballroom at the Pfister hotel.

Call 800-558-8222 for your reservation or email