Talking art, storytelling and friendship

They weren’t sure if they wanted to talk to me and I don’t blame them. Their lives are busy and consequently they get to spend so little time together. And they don’t know me.

But slowly, carefully, Muriel and Susan opened up to me.

We talked about art, but mostly, about friendship. And like all cherished friendships, Muriel’s and Susan’s 22-year friendship is a mosaic of similarities and differences.

Muriel grew up in Wisconsin; Susan in Illinois. Today, Susan lives on the South Side; Muriel is in the North Shore. They have different marital statuses. Muriel is single by choice; Susan has been married for years.

But their similarities are plentiful. They both love visual art, writing, theater and …

“We both really like to have fun,” says Muriel.

On this particular day, the ladies are having fun in the Lobby Bar after a visit to the art museum. It’s become an annual tradition, one they usually do during Super Bowl season. This year, however, Muriel had family obligations and they had to postpone it.

They have other connections to the Pfister as well. They attended tea at Blu. They are also both fans of former Pfister Artist In Residence, Shelby Keefe, and visited her studio.

So what makes a good friendship? I ask them, after asking myself this very question a thousand times in the past three years when it came time in my life to reevaluate my relationships. (But that’s another blog.)

“Someone you can count on no matter what’s going on in your life not to judge you. Someone who is there to listen if nothing else, but even more than listen, to be responsive. It’s so basic. Just somebody you can count on,” says Susan.

“It’s really nice to have a girlfriend,” says Muriel.

“Especially when you’re married,” says Susan, laughing softly.

Somehow we start talking about the local storytelling group, Ex Fabula, and New York-based storytelling group, The Moth. We all attended storytelling events in the past – I actually competed in and won an Ex Fabula story slam earlier this year – and marvel at the newfound popularity of storytelling.

People are flocking to public spaces just to hear stories? This is wonderful, but a little suprising. Is it backlash to technology? Is it because people have forgotten how to really talk to one another? Is it because strangers, like us, don’t usually open up?

We live in a society based on asking forgiveness when we provide too much information and we watch reality TV but don’t want to disclose honest, personal information.

We post our breakfasts but not our fears on Facebook.

“I used to work here,” Muriel offers up at one point in our conversation. She goes on to share wonderful stories of working at the Pfister Cafe, then called The Greenery, in the late ‘70s. And then we share more stories, these were off the record. (Sorry.)

Oh, the things we learn when we listen. The things we say when we think someone is listening. Really listening.

Shelby Keefe’s Farewell Celebration

The Pfister bids Shelby Keefe adieu and celebrates achievements of Keefe, Ferris and Williams

The Pfister held a farewell reception Tuesday, March 27th in honor of our 2011 Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe.

The event had both Pfister elegance and Shelby flare. Shelby’s additions included: an interactive art piece allowing guests to paint on a shared canvas and the melodies of a barefoot guitarist. The Pfister provided the hors d’oeuvres, ceremony and free tastings of the new Mason Street Grill Private Label Cabernet.

The Cabernet unveiled that evening is Mason Street Grill’s private label Cabernet wine by Stone Throw Winery, which features Keefe’s artwork on the label. A portion of the wine’s proceeds will benefit Creative Alliance Milwaukee, a local organization whose mission is to strengthen, advance and represent the creative industries as an essential asset for growing a vibrant, attractive region.

Two Pfister narrator alumni, Julie Ferris and Stacie Williams, were also recognized and gave delightful live readings from their Pfister Narrator books. Our current Pfister Narrator, Ed Makowski, gave a live poetry reading as well. All three performances had the audience smiling, laughing or nodding in thoughtful contemplation.

For a better glimpse into the nights events watch the video.

Or check out the photo slideshow.


 

Shelby Keefe’s Final Farewell

Unfortunately for us, our Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe, has reached the end of her fellowship with the Pfister Hotel. We have been honored to have her diligently working in the gallery all year and want to celebrate her achievements and recognize the impact she has made on all of us here at the Pfister.

Join us as we bid farewell to our Resident Artist, Shelby Keefe, with a celebration in the Rouge Ballroom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 – 6pm

Shelby will leave behind her legacy piece which will remain in the Pfister until the end of time.   Shelby’s urban landscape painting of Wisconsin Avenue at dusk is sure to impress.  Hear Shelby describe the inspiration behind the piece and her reminiscing on her time at the Pfister.

Also noteworthy is the release of the private label Mason Street Grill Cabernet which features Shelby’s artwork.  Part of the proceeds of each bottle sold throughout the year will benefit the Creative Alliance.

Here is a preview of the label featuring Shelby’s artwork.

We will also pay homage to the past Pfister Narrators, Julie Ferris and Stacie Williams, with the release of their Narrator books.  Julie and Stacie will be on hand to chat with guests and sign their respective volumes.  Who knows, they just might guest blog about the evening!

The festivities begin at 6pm on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 with a brief presentation followed by complimentary snacks and a cash bar, live music, and a live poetry reading.
RSVPs to Amy Hansen (amyhansen@marcuscorp.com) are appreciated.

UPAF Artists Among Us – The Final Piece for UPAF

This is the final day of UPAF’s Artists Among Us 16 in 16 by Shelby Keefe. Shelby has been working very hard and creating some absolutely stunning art for these amazing art organizations around Milwaukee. Today, for the grand finale, Shelby uses UPAF itself as the center of her 16th and final piece. She wanted to paint a transfixed audience because UPAF is one of the reasons there is so many artistic performances available for our viewing pleasure. UPAF helps artists get on stage to be appreciated by all of us and Shelby wanted one piece that expressed this idea.

This is the last day of a sixteen-day project. We invite you to catch up with Shelby’s series at her studio or online.

Day 16, UPAF by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 15 Florentine Opera Company

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 15 of 16. Today, buy the Florentine Opera Company is the center of Shelby’s fifteenth UPAF Artist Among Us piece.  The reason Shelby chose this image for the Florentine Opera Company is because she loved the obvious drama between the two main characters, Venus and Adonis. She says opera is about both drama and music and the combination of the two is what makes it so special.

This is day fifteen of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

Day14, MILW ballet by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 14 Milwaukee Ballet

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 14 of 16. Today, the Milwaukee Ballet is the center of Shelby’s fourteenth UPAF Artist Among Us piece. The photo from this piece was taken at one of this year’s performances of “The Nutcracker.” Shelby loved the colors from the photo, mainly the warm pink tones from the costumes and the cool blue color in the background. She said the challenge for this piece is the integrated nature of the two central dancers. They form one unit and therefore it will be difficult to distinguish who is who.

This is day fourteen of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

Day14, MILW ballet by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 13 Next Act Theatre

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 13 of 16. Today, Next Act Theatre is the center of Shelby’s thirteenth UPAF Artist Among Us piece. The photo Shelby used to paint today’s piece features a Next Act Theatre actor in a dynamic pose from a performance of “Seven Stories.” Shelby loved the off-center composition of this shot. She could tell the performance was a lot of fun because of this actor’s theatrical flare, and she wanted to capture this to represent the organization.

This is day thirteen of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

Day 13, NEXT ACT THEATER by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 12 Danceworks, Inc.

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 12 of 16. Today, clinic Danceworks, Inc. is the center of Shelby’s twelfth UPAF Artist Among Us piece. Shelby said the photo for this painting was one of the easiest to choose because of the expressions on the two central dancers faces. She said she wanted to capture the pure joy they express while ballroom dancing.

This is day twelve of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

Day 12, DANCEWORKS by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 11 Present Music

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 11 of 16. Today, rx Present Music is the center of Shelby’s eleventh UPAF Artist Among Us piece. Shelby chose a photo of Present Music musicians performing abstract pieces from a concert she attended and thoroughly enjoyed. She said this photo would be difficult to paint because of all the activity in the fore and background and was excited to take on the challenge.

This is day eleven of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

Day 11, PRESENT MUSIC by pfisterhotel

UPAF Artists Among Us – Day 10 Skylight Music Theatre

We are proud to announce Shelby Keefe is on Day 10 of 16. Today, nurse the Skylight Music Theatre is the center of Shelby’s tenth UPAF Artist Among Us piece. Shelby wanted to get a glimpse into the behind the scenes environment of this theatre company and decided on this picture taken by a Journal Sentinel photographer, capsule Angela Peterson. This photo was taken before a performance of “Music Man” and Shelby liked the excitement of everyone getting ready for the big show.

This is day ten of a sixteen-day project to be completed on March 16th. We invite you to observe and follow Shelby’s creative process at her studio or online. Please check back frequently to see Shelby’s progress.

 

Day 10 Skylight by pfisterhotel