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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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The school board appears ready to tap retired school leader Dan Donder as the district's interim superintendent.
The school board appears ready to tap retired school leader Dan Donder as the district's interim superintendent.

Donder appears to lead pack of MPS interim superintendent finalists

Though a short list of four potential candidates has been circulating recently, veteran, and recently retired Milwaukee Public Schools principal Dan Donder looks set to become the interim superintendent at MPS.

That short list also included former principals and administrators Willie Jude and Tom McGinnity, and MPS Chief Human Capital Officer Karen Jackson. Retired MPS administrator Anita Pietrykowski was also on that list until she apparently asked to be removed from it.

But the buzz now focuses on Donder, who is popular among teachers and administrators and is seen as someone who can build bridges between schools and the central office on Vliet Street.

Donder, who just recently retired, took on the emergency task of leading Bay View High School last year and completely reorganized the school, suggesting he has the skills to lead the district.

Donder's experience and training includes strong work in special education and leading arts schools.

The rumor mill says the board has already offered the position to Donder though it's unclear whether or not he's accepted verbally. A contract still must be signed, but expect to see some action on this at next Thursday's board organizational meeting.

If hired, Donder would assume his post upon the departure of current MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton, who starts his new job leading Baltimore City Schools on July 1. It is also possible Donder would begin earlier to help ensure continuity within the district.

Italian pop star Zucchero is in town to play at Turner Hall Ballroom.
Italian pop star Zucchero is in town to play at Turner Hall Ballroom.

Wait?! Is that an Italian pop star in Milwaukee?

It's true, the appearance in Milwaukee of an Italian pop star is so rare that a blog post about the event warrants a headline like the one above.

When Zucchero Fornaciari, who is a towering figure in Italian pop music, arrives to perform at Turner Hall Ballroom tonight, it may well be the first appearance by an actual Italian pop star since Carmen Consoli played at the Miramar Theater in 2008.

Though an indie Italian band or two has swung through in the intervening years it would be a stretch to describe them as "pop stars." Two that perhaps come close – but in very, very genre-specific examples – were the 2010 Marcus Center performance by pianist Ludovico Einaudi and the 2013 appearance of prog legends Il Castello di Atlante at Club Garibaldi. Stars in their respective galaxies, but not pop by any measure.

Fornaciari, who has performed alongside Eric Clapton and Sting – which offers a clue not only to his stature but to his style of music – has toured the U.S. a number of times, having been signed to a few different record labels here across the years.

The Italian community here is buzzing about Zucchero's Milwaukee performance, which, if not his first, is surely his first in a long while.

But, why don't we get the likes of Subsonica and Negramaro in Milwaukee? Likely for the same reasons these bands – and, honestly, Zucchero, too – leave nary a trace in the wider American market. They sing in Italian.

Other than novelty hits, there is no real mainstream demand for foreign-language music – other than perhaps Spanish, but even that is a mostly separate market, aimed at and consumed by the Latino community.

Zucchero's latest disc, "La Sesion Cubana," was recorded with American producer Don Was in Havana with mostly Cuban musicians. The 13 tracks are sung almost entirely in Spanish and English.

All the same, Milwaukee's Italian ex-pat community – and some Italian-Americans – will be out to see the star shine bright upstairs at Turner Hall.

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Built in 1925, thousands of Milwaukeeans, spanning numerous generations, have called South Stadium home on Friday nights.
Built in 1925, thousands of Milwaukeeans, spanning numerous generations, have called South Stadium home on Friday nights.
The stadium has two sets of stepped brick bleachers. The north bleachers are adorned with a pair of towers.
The stadium has two sets of stepped brick bleachers. The north bleachers are adorned with a pair of towers.
The 50-yard line is faint, but not all that faint. That's because three schools have still used the field for football and soccer.
The 50-yard line is faint, but not all that faint. That's because three schools have still used the field for football and soccer.
The stadium, on Windlake and Becher, is a South Side landmark.
The stadium, on Windlake and Becher, is a South Side landmark.
One set of ticket windows that will never again open.
One set of ticket windows that will never again open.
The ornate doors make the 89-year-old stadium look even older.
The ornate doors make the 89-year-old stadium look even older.
Workers have begun dismantling the old place, to make room for its replacement, expected to open next year.
Workers have begun dismantling the old place, to make room for its replacement, expected to open next year.
Gravity, pressure and the weather have been helping out, too.
Gravity, pressure and the weather have been helping out, too.
The incredible Rufus King drumline entertained those on hand for the groundbreaking Thursday morning.
The incredible Rufus King drumline entertained those on hand for the groundbreaking Thursday morning.
Digitaries - including board member Tati Joseph, with the mic - Common Council president Michael Murphy, and others were on hand.
Digitaries - including board member Tati Joseph, with the mic - Common Council president Michael Murphy, and others were on hand.
And, of course, ceremonial dirt was ceremonially turned.
And, of course, ceremonial dirt was ceremonially turned.
The south stands were the only ones open in recent years.
The south stands were the only ones open in recent years.
Ramp to nowhere.
Ramp to nowhere.
Despite some beautiful architectural elements, the whole place is in pretty rough shape.
Despite some beautiful architectural elements, the whole place is in pretty rough shape.

If these walls could talk: Saying goodbye to the old South Stadium

As a group of dignitaries officially broke ground on a new South Stadium today in the shadow of Hayes Bilingual School (housed in the former Kosciuszko Junior High), it was hard not to look around and think, "if these walls could talk."

A relatively small assemblage of current students, MPS employees, media and government representatives were on hand Thursday morning to capture the moment when ceremonial dirt was turned to signify a new future for the field, which runs along Windlake Avenue and Becher Street.

Built in 1925 to plans drawn by MPS architect Guy Wiley, the stadium's final games were played on the pitch in October 2013. The north stands are especially beautiful stepped structures executed in variegated red brick. Two towers rise in each rear corner and are adorned with cut stone that look like flickering candle flames.

But the north stands have also been condemned for reasons that are clear in one of the photographs above. The walls are literally crumbling.

The wooden doors in the south stands look positively medieval. They're gorgeous. And the place thrums with history.

My mom, her dad and his mom all went to South Division – as did my sister-in-law and her siblings – so I expect at least a bit of family history has played out here. And the same can be said for thousands of Milwaukee families with South Side roots.

A number of the speakers made reference to the past during an event that looks to the future. A former Kosy student and stadium employee and manager, Mike Wenzel, who remembers his earliest days on the field in 1953, said, wistfully, "if these walls could talk," and mentioned the many future NFL stars that played in the stadium.

City-wide school board member Terry Falk spoke of the first kisses shared by Milwaukee teens here across the decades, drawing a playful response from the crowd and smirks from the current students on hand. Ald. Jose Perez said his wife performed as a pom-pom girl at the stadium, though that first kiss, he a…

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A view of the proposed east facade from near Harbor House. Personally, I'd like to see more windows.
A view of the proposed east facade from near Harbor House. Personally, I'd like to see more windows. (Photo: Milwaukee Art Museum)
An interior view of the expansion space that will add 17,000 square feet to the museum's existing 345,000 square feet.
An interior view of the expansion space that will add 17,000 square feet to the museum's existing 345,000 square feet. (Photo: Milwaukee Art Museum)

Expansion plan opens up space for museum "bursting at the seams"

Two days ago the Milwaukee Art Museum officially announced its Plan for the Future, including an expansion of the 1975 Kahler building, which sits beneath and to the east of the 1957 Eero Saarinen-designed War Memorial Center.

Yesterday, MAM director Dan Keegan hosted a media event at which he offered more details on the plan, which is expected to cost $25 million, including $10 million Milwaukee County will spend to repair and upgrade portions of the buildings it owns.

MAM has already raised more than $13 million of its $15 million share, Keegan told a small group of reporters.

The expansion will add 17,000 square feet to the three-building, 345,000-square foot complex.

"We feel this is high, high impact for the museum and major bang for the buck in terms of what we need to accomplish and what we’re trying to get done here," said Keegan.

Since the announcement, the merits of one highest-profile aspects of the plan – the HGA-designed facade that will replace the east face of the Kahler building, which Keegan said MAM staff calls the "East Berlin view" – has been a major point of public discussion.

"It’s as if it’s a derelict building," he said, candidly, of the current facade.

But, Keegan added, the project is really about the art.

"Over time the collection has grown tremendously," he said. "We’re now a collection of over 30,000 works of art, spanning the history of art. The collection has become fractured over time and so that’s at the core of the major changes around the reinstallation of the collection."

"The good news is that we’ve grown the collection. The bad news is it’s presentation has not come from any master plan that has been continually updated. So, a major piece of this project is to reinstall the entire collection."

Though the new space totals only 17,000 square feet and not of all that is dedicated gallery space, Keegan estimated that the changes will actually add nearly 20,000 square feet of space for the exhibition of ar…

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