Steampunk Society Invades the Pfister

Just in case you had any preconceived notions about the Pfister clientele, allow me to challenge those. First, watch this slideshow:



These are steampunkers. What is a steampunker? Good question – I was also unaware of this counterculture until the Steampunk Society Milwaukee held their first Maker’s Fair last Saturday at the Pfister, organized in part by the gregarious Timothy Westbrook, Pfister’s Artist in Residence.

The group emulates the culture and costumes of the late nineteenth century and Victorian era. There is also a fascination with sci-fi elements and gadgets. Most people I talked with couldn’t exactly explain what a steampunker was, but described what drew them in.

Allizarin Crimson a.k.a. Kristin Poehls is a new member whose goal was to make just one sale at the fair. Jim Best has been involved for two years and started going to events something to do in his free time. For him, it was something more productive to do than playing video games. He uses old watch pieces to create pins and jewelry.

Clinger, adorned in a metal top hat and metal tie, calls it “A classy looking way to rebel.” He rode 10 miles to get to the Pfister on his ordinary bicycle. It’s his primary mode of transportation when the weather is agreeable. Anna Rodriguez sees it as a way to express herself. She loves the creative element and the costuming that goes along with it.

Bridget Sharon started the society in Milwaukee after seeing many of the same people from Milwaukee at the Chicago events. “I saw a lot of potential in it,” she said. “We used to do ‘invasions’ where we’d all decide to go someplace and show up in costume. Now, we hold monthly events to get together and grab drinks or socialize.” There are no requirements to be a member. Events attract anywhere from 20-40 people, but there must have been at least 100 steampunkers at the Maker’s Fair.

Bridget encourages everyone to check out a Steampunk Society gathering. I agree, you have to see this for yourself. For more information, click here.

My Other Pen is a Hydro-cyclonic Ink Dispensing Thought Engine

I have never stopped going to the Pfister. I’m still there, buy cialis lurking among the new artists and writers and last night, I snuck in to lurk among the time-travelers and inventors. My confession is that I love the art/craft/clothing/mission/vision/literature that calls itself Steampunk. I’ve been known to lust after a pair of great goggles and as a renaissance faire actor in the summers, I’m no stranger to a good corset. I have long wished the hotel had airship parking.

So I dragged a friend out for a drink in the Lobby Bar—something she’s no stranger to as she was one of my partners in crime when I was the Pfister Narrator—and we looked at gears and hair fascinators and costumes. And we descended on the bar and had a Zaffiro’s cheese pizza, remembering my introduction to the family whose girls’ day out during the holidays included pizza in the lobby.

And there she was. I saw our new Narrator at the bar, watching the costumes stream out of the Steampunk party. She typed on her tablet, and I found that appropriate as Steampunk is about unique inventions and hodge podge creations and a tablet is the perfect contemporary hybrid to reflect that sensibility, even if it’s not from the Steam Age.

I’m curious if she spotted us, if she recognized me. I only knew her from her interview video and was happy to note that the energy that jumped off the screen and grabbed us in that conference room was pulling people toward her in the Lobby Bar last night as well.

The entire evening just reminded me (not that I needed reminding) that the Pfister captures more than just people. Seeing the turn of the century garb, met with visionary mechanical implements and jewelry, was surreal when the garb floated into the lobby. Our favorite may have been the gorgeous Victorian bustled dress with teal brocade that fit its bearer so perfectly we questioned whether her body, too, had traveled through time. My friend gasped when she looked up and saw the mistress being photographed by her captain on the glorious staircase. What better place to reconsider the turn of the century and the romantic lure of the past than a hotel that was created to capture the future the turn of the century would bring?

I’m so proud to be a part of the Pfister because the beauty and elegance of this place and its people lend themselves and open their doors to contemporary, unique events like the Steampunk ball. I was proud to see so many of the artists showcased at the event were not from Chicago, but rather right here in Milwaukee, proving again that we’re current, we’re cool and Milwaukee has its fair share of airship pirates.

If you pictured the art of Timothy Westbrook as textile manipulation and beautiful, you were correct. But if you’d never looked at his pieces in the gaslight of a Victorian evening or seen how their feel couples so wonderfully with an Oscillating Mechanical Stun Weapon particular to airships and rogue captains, the Pfister provided that for you. Again, I was amazed at how a place, rife with history and bursting with elegance is also a playful contemporary who is willing to embrace gears, gadgets and difference engines to prove how welcome we all are when we’re there.

Good luck, Jenna. I have not forgotten, nor abandoned my journey with time travel, facilitated by the Pfister and its staff; I crack the proverbial bottle of champagne over your airship for luck on your adventure.

Pfister Art: Ninon De Lenclos

sales French 1868-1951″ src=”http://blog.thepfisterhotel.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/NDL3.jpg” alt=”” width=”221″ height=”264″ />

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.

My favorite lady lives on the 2nd floor

Georges Jules Victor Clairin's "The Dancer" gracing the 2nd floor mezzanine of the Pfister Hotel. Yep she's my favorite. Le sigh...

My mother has always had portraits of women around the house. Her taste for paintings and sculpture spans the 1870’s up to early art deco. Overall she’d probably list Monet as her favorite painter. I grew up with these ladies hanging around so they’ve probably influenced which variety of painted ladies I find attractive and prefer to have in my walled company. I’m sure Freud would have plenty to say…

The art collection encompassed in the Pfister is the world’s largest hotel art collection on permanent display. Given that the hotel was initially completed in 1893 most of the hotel’s artistic style dates from near this time period.

I asked the Pfister’s Chef Concierge Peter Mortensen if he could fill me in on a little about Georges Jules Victor Clairin’s “The Dancer,” and he had plenty to whet my curiosity. But first I was lambasted for not knowing much about Sarah Bernhardt. Allow me to explain…

Clairin was a French painter who began exhibiting at the Salon in 1866. For folks like myself who haven’t yet visited Parisian museums or galleries, The Salon was an annual showcase of France’s premier academic artists. From what I can conclude the Salon shows fell in prominence around the rise of Impressionism. Impressionist art of the time was not generally accepted into the Salon shows and may account for it’s gradual skid in importance. Impressionists such as Cezanne, Monet, Degas, and Renoir are household names but I had to look up the Salon. I guess history shows who won that debate.

Georges’ specialty in painting became the female form. He loved to paint lavishly costumed women. Dancers and costumed actresses became models, muses, and lovers.

Clairin's rendering of Sarah Bernhardt as Ophelia. To be clear this piece is not possessed by or displayed at the Pfister Hotel and is merely shown for purposes of comparison.

Sarah Bernhardt was an actress. Well, more correctly she was the actress. From her very start Sarah Bernhardt is a story not easily discerned. Sarah is believed to have been born in 1844 as Rosine Bernhardt to a mother named Julie and an unknown father. She began acting in the mid-1860’s but her birth papers were lost in a fire. She became Sarah by creating falsified birth documents. By the 1870’s her star grew to the point that she was known simply as “The Divine Sarah.” Bernhardt was the most sought-after actress of the time and traveled to the United States and Cuba to perform and teach aspiring lady actresses. Along the way she got married, had children, was known to sleep in a coffin (method acting preparation), got divorced, lost a leg to gangrene, had affairs, (in no specific, often overlapping, order) and performed exhaustively until her death in 1923.

Clairin ended up painting Ms. Bernhardt’s likeness several times. He often rendered her while costumed. Our concierge Peter explained that at one point Mr. Clairin and Ms. Bernhardt shared a house in the south of France. Although Georges Clairin is probably best known for painting Sarah Bernhardt, she is far from being the only woman to see the end of his paintbrush. Walk up to our second floor mezzanine to see the beauty my photograph of “The Dancer” cannot replicate.

As for Ms. Bernhardt, I’ll give you one guess where she stayed in Milwaukee.

Resident Pfister artist Shelby Keefe gives walking art tours Fridays and Saturdays at 4pm (Or by prior appointment, stop by her studio on the first floor to schedule directly with her). Tours are free and open to the public.

 

News Update: Familiar Voices rally behind the Pfister Hotel

Familiar Voices Rally Behind the Pfister Hotel

Transcript: 

My fellow Americans – and Marcus employees

I’m sue you are aware that I and other former leaders of the free world have had the honor of being a guest here at the fabulous Pfister Hotel. My honey bunch Hilary likes it too.

We see that there has been some in the entertainment industry who have tarnished the good name of our beloved Pfister, there claiming that Stubby is being held against his will.

I’d say that is not the case. Stubby remains a free American mascot, unhealthy able to make his own decisions because of this great democracy we call the United States of Marcus – er America.

Now you know that each of presidents know that the Pfister brand is unimpeachable. And yet, the Marcus Theaters division has targeted this landmark for demolition wishing to turn it into an Ultra Screen.

We cannot let this happen. I say Save the Pfister!

So my fellow Americans, ask not what the Pfister can do for you, ask what you can do to save the Pfister.

A vote for the Pfister is a vote for all that is good and just in this country.

Daniel Ridgway Knight’s “The Rose Garden”

By Keia Wegner, viagra Assistant Manager at the Pfister Hotel

Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924) was an American artist born in Philadelphia.  In 1871 he moved to France where he purchased a house and studio at Poissy on the Seine.  This was a perfect area for him as it provided lush natural scenery that can be seen in the majority of his paintings.  He used this as a backdrop for his favorite subject to paint, medical peasant women at work and play.

The Rose Garden is a perfect example of this; a young woman taking a contemplative break while tending to her garden.  One can see roofs just peeking above the flora with a picturesque lake in the background. The fact that Knight preferred to paint the ‘common’, remedy everyman (or woman in his case) set him apart from his French peers.

Most French painters chose to depict these men and women in their laborious toils; still trying to make a living off of the land during the time of the ever expanding Industrial Revolution. In Knight’s own words: “These peasants are as happy and content as any similar class in the world. They all save money and are small capitalists and investors…. They work hard to be sure but plenty of people do that.”[1]

Stop in to see The Rose Garden and other works by Daniel Ridgway Knight.  We are underway on getting the labels printed for the new self-guided art tour….stay tuned for updates!