Experiencing UW-Milwaukee’s 2012 Women Leaders Conference

Gloria Steinem signing books following her speech kicking off the day. While I snapped this photo she said these exact words, “Well- rebellion keeps us young, right?”

To my dismay I realized that the UW-Milwaukee Women Leaders Conference scheduled to take place at the Pfister Friday, March 30th was sold out. I’d hoped there was a possibility to watch from the perimeter and take in a little of the conference.

Thursday evening I was in the lobby lounge speaking with pianist Dr. Jeffrey Hollander regarding a Pfister blog I’ve been working on about the man. There was a woman seated at the table closest Jeffrey and the three of us talked for a bit. In conversation I asked if she was local or from out of town. She explained that she was involved with Friday’s conference. My new acquaintance then asked what I was getting into at the hotel and I explained the Narrator position and how I had hoped to cover the conference in some capacity. It turned out I was sitting with Jan Allen, UW-Milwaukee’s Director of Business, Engineering & Technology in the school’s Continuing Education Department. Completely by mistake (does serendipity make mistakes?) I ended up being invited to check out Friday’s activities. You never know who you’re going to meet at this hotel…

By 8am Friday morning, like countless times before, the Pfister’s 7th floor ballrooms were transformed to fit the needs of the event. A banquet spread of breakfast foods and coffee cakes, teas, coffee, and soft drinks welcomed conference-goers on their way into the Grand Ballroom.

Kicking off the day’s events was keynote speaker Gloria Steinem. I tread lightly in suggesting I can introduce you to Ms. Steinem as there is little need for introduction. She is a journalist, publisher, and activist (and a wearer of many other hats). Steinem co-founded Ms. magazine and has worked for over half a century toward the changes she’d like to see in the world. I encourage reading this March 16th New York Times article about Ms. Steinem’s long career. Steinem’s speech, “The Longest Revolution,” included her Top 10 list of priorities and conclusions to keep in mind moving forward. Following her speech there were a few minutes for questions and lucky participants were able to ask the questions they’ve always wondered of the longtime lightning rod. Having Gloria Steinem speak injected the day with a feeling which reminded me of the phrase, “We are the ones we have been waiting for” (line from a poem by June Jordan which can [and should!] be read here).

After Gloria’s speech there were several sessions which ran concurrent. It was difficult to choose which one to listen to but what caught my eye was Lora Hyler’s Where Are the Women? Taking a Seat At the Board: How Women Directors Impact Company Success. Ms. Hyler detailed the positive impacts companies have seen when women are in high positions. She charted breakdowns by gender and race of who leads the world’s companies. She explained methods women can use to break into leadership groups which can resemble an old boy’s club. Hyler stressed that the key was to find ways to communicate effectively with superiors and colleagues, regardless if that communication takes place in boardrooms or on the golf course. Ms. Hyler also explained that after one woman is admitted to a board of directors it is generally easier for women to follow in her steps. Before the session was over participants shared experiences and strategies of how to grow in their careers and climb above the proverbial glass ceiling.

Speaker Chris Heeter out for a break with canine companion Tuu Weh.

Before lunch I was able to see Chris Heeter speak on a few different topics. Ms. Heeter founded The Wild Institute and has decades of experience guiding outdoor groups.  Her speech was titled You girls out here all alone? The Wild Side of Leadership. With a bittersweet chuckle she explained that she couldn’t recall how many times a solitary man had asked their group of women that silly question whether out on the trail or paddling. Chris also has a great deal of experience working with sled dogs and explained how communication between dogs and the human guiding the sled could be a useful analogy for the working world. For an immediate understanding of her perception of the leader’s role she began by explaining that with a dogsled the leader guides from an observational post behind the dogs. Chris speaks with a wisdom and exuberance that is difficult to convey in mere typed words. Both she and her canine companion Tuu Weh left an indelible impression on attendees.

Between the lunch and afternoon sessions I was in the elevator and a woman looked over to me. She leaned in while her whole face smiled and she asked,  “What do you think of the conference so far?”

Beyond asking my impression it was clear that she wanted to make sure to engage me and encourage the idea that- even though I happen to be a guy- it was okay for me to have an opinion.

“Well…” I weighed the day’s experiences up to that point… “There has been a lot of great information and valuable things I’ve heard, but most of it hasn’t been gender specific. It seems unfortunate that there exists a need to term it a Women’s Conference for this information to be disseminated from one place.”

“Exactly,” she laughed as we exited the elevator, “that’s the point! If only we could help the entire world arrive at that conclusion. We’re getting there…”

What’s in a birthday?

One day I was sitting in the lobby lounge waiting for something to happen. It can be a strange feeling to think qualitatively about conversation, hoping for a moment of random brilliance to spring from a happenstance stranger. This random Tuesday evening my mind started drifting for all the typical reason’s one’s mind wanders from the task at hand while working. Bills, or maybe errands forgotten or neglected. Maybe the current song grabbed my attention and reminded me of another song which presented a memory of an old friend and I pictured the car they drove which stranded us outside of the Boundary Waters in Ely, Minnesota. My thoughts had drifted somewhere up near the Minnesota/Canada border.

While my mind canoed past several islands a gentleman sat down next to me.

We exchanged hellos and pleasantries and went on to talking about how our day was going. I asked what he was doing at the hotel this particular evening. He explained that he was visiting to celebrate his birthday. Given the four restaurants inside the Pfister there are probably people celebrating birthdays every meal of the day. I’ve even had 31 of them. But this wasn’t any typical birthday. This man’s 52nd was an especially unique year. A birthday of gilded proportions. Not as in golden birthdays, but golden that despite extreme health issues he’s lived this long.

The gentleman’s name was Daniel and he graciously allowed me to record the story of how he arrived at the age of 52. I’ll let him tell you for himself  in the audio clip below. It’s an intimate life story and I’d rather let him speak for himself than give away any details. For me it was a great reminder of not only how lucky we are to breathe every day, but that we can never know how special another person’s day is- until we ask. Without further ado, here is Daniel’s story.

Daniel talks about why 52 was such a big year for him by Ed Makowski

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 amyhansen@marcuscorp.com 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.

Pfister Art: Ninon De Lenclos

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by: Keia Wegner, Hotel Assistant Manager

Mademoiselle Georges Achille-Fould worked in the studio of Rosa Bonheur, check who was one of the best known French female artists of her time.  A book on the Pfister Art Collection written in the 1940’s mistakenly labeled Ms. Achille-Fould as a male painter.  She has three paintings in the Pfister collection and there is also one by her sister Consuelo Fould; as far as we are aware these are the only pieces in our Victorian collection that were painted by female artists.   Their mother, nurse Wilhelmina Simonin was also an artist but painted under the pseudonym Gustave Haller. The girls were adopted by their stepfather, Prince George Stirbey and from him inherited the castle and park Becon; they later turned this into the Museum de Roybet Fould.

Achille-Fould is best known for her paintings of fanciful women.  This painting is an imaginative study of Ninon de Lenclos, the famous French beauty and wit of the 17th century. Lenclos was made famous due to her numerous amours at court. There is a brilliance and elegance in this painting, as well as skillful drawing and a sensitive feeling for texture.  Well known throughout France, Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos (“Ninon de Lenclos”), was a French author, courtesan and patron of the arts who lived from 1620-1705.  After her father was exiled and her mother passed away she entered a convent for a year since she was determined to stay single and independent.  She achieved this throughout her life even though she had a string of wealthy and powerful lovers, including two of the King’s cousins.  Upon her death Lenclos left a considerable sum to the son of her accountant, 9 year old Francois Marie Arouet.  In her will the boy was instructed to use the money to “purchase books”.  Later, he would become better known as Voltaire.

Historically, during this time women were expected to live not such an independent lifestyle.  She was not only thought of as beautiful, but as intelligent and was seen as a peer to her male counterparts.  This would have been especially pertinent to a woman living in the Victorian age, since that was a time when women were supposed to be “seen and not heard”.  It would only be a natural choice for Achille-Fould, a woman in a field dominated by males, to use an independent woman such as Ninon as an inspiration for one of her paintings.

The Pfister Hotel Names Six Finalists for Next Artist in Residence

Home to more Victorian Art than any other hotel in the world, the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee for the past three years has hosted a nationally recognized artist-in-residence program. A selection committee, consisting of members of the local art community, has announced the six finalists for the 2011—2012 term of the program. This year’s finalists are Pamela Anderson; Matt Duckett; Albin Erhart; Hal Koenig; Brandon Minga; and Timothy Westbrook.

“Each year of this program we are astounded by the amazing talent seen in the applicants,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “With great consideration, the selection committee has chosen six outstanding artists who remain in the running. Now it’s time for the public to help us decide who will be moving into The Pfister come spring.”

Public Voting

Beginning mid-January 2012, members of the public will be able visit The Pfister’s Facebook page and website to vote for the artist they’d like to see as the next artist in residence. Votes also can be cast via Twitter. The selection committee will announce the next artist in residence mid-February.

Work by the six finalists will be displayed at Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, for January Gallery Night, Friday, Jan. 20, 2011, where the public will be able to vote via ballet box, in addition to the other methods.

The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence Program

Entering its fourth 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. The artist chosen for the 2011—2012 term will move into the studio space in April 2012.

Over the past few years, The Pfister has received national attention for its Artist-in-Residence program. Since 2009, the hotel has been a member of the Alliance of Artist Communities, www.artistcommunities.org, an international association of artists’ communities and residencies featuring a diverse field of more than 1,000 programs worldwide. In 2011, The Pfister’s residency program was highlighted at the organization’s annual international conference.

The program’s current artist is Shelby Keefe (2010-2011), www.studioshelby.com. Past artists include Katie Musolff (2009-2010), www.katiemusolff.com; and Reginald Baylor (2008-2009), www.reginaldbaylor.com.

For more information on The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence program, visit www.ThePfisterHotel.com/Artist-In-Residence. The Pfister can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thePfisterHotel and on Twitter @PfisterHotel.

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.

 

12 Drinks of Christmas in Blu

Blu and the Pfister Hotel are proud to be participating in the Hunger Task Force’s 12 Drinks of Christmas this holiday season and donating a portion of our proceeds to the cause.

Stop by Blu and try one of our tasty holiday libations this season and don’t forget to vote for us online.

 

Veterans Day at the Pfister

Patrick's hat and cocktail resting on the bar while resident mix maven Valerie serves guests.

This past Saturday I asked Pfister Chef Concierge Peter Mortensen (found out chef translates to “chief,” and not strictly the cuisine variety. Yep, I asked.) to grant me a tour of a few rooms and unique suites. The Pfister is actually two buildings, the initial 1893 Wisconsin Avenue building and the 1960’s tower addition which stretches the hotel to Mason Street. I wanted to get a feel for the subtleties of each. Saturday morning there was time prior to check-in so Peter and myself raced around the two buildings. Just in case…Knock knock knock. Knock knock. “Good morning, Concierge…”

After my whirlwind tour I sat in the lobby lounge and ended up meeting David and Patrick. These wonderful Polish “Sout-Side” gentlemen were in town for the Veteran’s Day parade. Amongst many things we talked Milwaukee history, state politics, brandy. Growing up David and Patrick’s neighborhood on the South Side featured a deli which carried several different types of European sausages. A Hungarian made the Hungarian sausage. A German immigrant ground and cased the bratwurst. A Polish employee…and so on.

What stuck with me most was Pat’s experience during his tour in Vietnam. He explained that there was one day which defined his time serving there and his life as well. Pat graciously allowed me to record him telling the story he doesn’t tell very often.

It’s pretty rare that the storyteller relays something so serious as, “I feared for my life. Then…I feared nothing,” and by the end is laughing from his belly. My new friend Pat is a class act.

This interview originally aired Veterans Day 2011 on 89.7 WUWM during the Lake Effect show. To listen simply click play below.

My barometer for if an interview is this simple criteria: After arriving at my destination, would I sit in the car to hear the end of the story? If yes, then the work is worth sharing with people. If no, then I chalk it up to a learning exercise. This one is definitely “sit in the car” worthy.

To all of our veterans- Thank You.

Patrick’s Vietnam story told at the Pfister Hotel for Veterans Day 2011 by Ed Makowski

The Pfister Hotel and Johnson Controls grew up together

An example of the first thermostats Johnson Controls installed in the Pfister Hotel. Reflected is a painting on the opposite wall of Pfister piano player Dr. Jeffrey Hollander. His likeness was rendered by previous resident artist Katie Musolff.

Did you know the first building to (ever!) have temperature controls in each room was the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? During the Industrial Revolution Johnson Controls and the Pfister Hotel grew up like two kids on the same block. Both also grew to garner international recognition in their chosen fields. I met with Johnson Controls Head Archivist Ken Wirth to hear their intertwined stories.

We couldn’t leave the guest of honor out of the conversation, so Ken and I talked over coffee in the hotel’s lobby lounge. This interview originally aired November 1st, 2011 on 89.7 WUWM during Lake Effect and is introduced by Lake Effect Executive Producer Mitch Teich. To listen simply click the player below.

 

Good thing we have Wisconsin weather! (to thank for the electric thermostat) by Ed Makowski

Shelby Keefe’s 30 Paintings in 30 days

Last month, see The Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe, began her mission to create a painting a day for 30 straight days. Using her own photos and images from the public as inspiration, buy cialis Keefe has focused her pieces on people in local, urban landscapes.

The 12” by 12” works, along with several of her other paintings, will be on display during gallery night and in her studio at the Pfister Hotel until early November. The works also will be featured at The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin at a show this late fall.