help choose the Pfister’s 2010 AiR
On Gallery Night, six Milwaukee artists will duke it out (so to speak) in hopes of becoming The Pfister Hotel’s 2010 Artist In Residence, garnering invaluable exposure during a yearlong residency at one of the city’s toniest locales.
After months of wading through submissions, the 2010 entrants have been narrowed down to six finalists working in a variety of media: Bridget Griffith Evans; Mutope J. Johnson; Sara Mulloy; Katie Musolff; Kristopher Pollard; and Aries Tjhin.
The Pfister began its AIR program in 2009, as a highlight to its highly acclaimed collection of Victorian art. Throughout the residency year as AIR, the selected artist will receive a monthly stipend and also have use of a studio in the lobby of the Pfister, which will serve as both a working studio and gallery, giving the artist an opportunity to interact with hotel visitors while working in an open space.
“We started the Artist-In-Residence program to expand our reputation as a destination hotel for art connoisseurs by offering a glimpse into the world of art as it is being created, in real time, by amazingly talented artists,” says Pfister General Manager Joe Kurth.
Painter Reggie Baylor was named as The Pfister Hotel’s first Artist-In-Residence (AIR) in 2009. On the walls of the Pfister studio, Baylor’s large-scale, linear paintings employ the vibrant color and sweeping geometric shapes that have become a sort of signature of his work. It’s hard not to gravitate toward them, and if you’ve visited The Pfister in the past year you more than likely found yourself poking around the studio, absolutely mesmerized.
As the AIR, Baylor says he splits his time between his Third Ward studio and his space at The Pfister, at times spending as many as 50 hours per week at the hotel. In addition to creating original work, he says that much of his time was spent conducting talks or guided tours of the Pfister’s art collection as well as the art studio and gallery. For Baylor, that often meant in-depth examinations of the building’s architecture, the elegance and symmetry of the chandeliers or even the color and texture of the marble surfaces.
“It’s not limited to the art,” Baylor says. “The program is entirely catered to the artist’s views and interpretation.”
Though already established as an artist when selected as the AIR, Baylor contends that his residency has greatly impacted his work, especially when it comes to working in the public studio. The artist space in The Pfister is a far cry from the average artist’s studio in that it’s extremely organized and near-pristine; it is, after all, The Pfister. Baylor’s Third Ward studio is more of an intriguing, organized mess with pencil-drawn sketches and painted scraps of denim littering the free wall space, little bits of inspiration on every surface and yet, it’s an extremely comforting place. I couldn’t help but wonder how any artist can make the transition from private to ultra-public work space.
As it turns out, it’s not so hard.
In fact, Baylor says it lends itself to a lesson in professionalism for artists — emerging or otherwise.
“You have to realize that you’re a guest … you’ve been invited,” he says. “And, living with that idea, I think that the neatness of the space was reflected in my work, making it more elegant and more precise.”
As his residency draws to a close, Baylor says he is excited to see the Pfister’s AIR program expand and hopes that this will aid progress and growth within the Milwaukee arts community. Though he says there is a lot of zeal and forward-thinking within the local arts scene, low exposure combined with the lack of an economic structure for art in Milwaukee prevents artists from moving to the next level. All too often “art” — whether that means theater, dance or visual art — becomes a destination. People have to know about the event, then purchase tickets or coordinate a way to actually attend the event. It’s not right in your face; and in that sense, some of the spontaneity is lost.
“That’s the great thing about the [Artist-In-Residence] program at a place like The Pfister,” Baylor says. “It puts art directly in front of people, often without them even knowing it.”
Get involved and cast your vote this Gallery Night! Work from the six finalists for The Pfister Hotel’s 2010 Artist In Residence will be on display at InterContinental Milwaukee’s Gallerie M, 139 E. Kilbourn Ave., on Friday, Jan. 15 from 5-9 p.m.