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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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Thousands play hooky from work and school to come out and not only celebrate the return of Brewers baseball, but also to do a two-step on the grave of winter.
Thousands play hooky from work and school to come out and not only celebrate the return of Brewers baseball, but also to do a two-step on the grave of winter.

The Opening Day omen

We put a lot of weight on Opening Day. Thousands play hooky from work and school to come out and not only celebrate the return of Brewers baseball, but also to do a two-step on the grave of winter.

The TV cameras are everywhere and helicopters patrol the skies. The atmosphere is festive -- more so than almost any other game of the year. 

If the Brewers win, we feel like we're off to a good start and success is assured (though, by now, we surely know better). And if they lose, we figure, "hey, it's a long season."

Baseball fans are a superstitious lot, but, in the end, what does it all mean?

Very little, really. After all, with 161 games to go this season, a single win or loss at this point is irrelevant, right?

Numerically speaking, that's certainly true.

But, psychologically, we want to come in on a high note. We want to win so we can put the Braun business behind us. We want it so we can put years of frustration behind us. We want it so we can come together and celebrate a Brewers' success story.

But we also want it because we don't want the celebratory atmosphere of Opening Day to end. And because after what seemed like an interminable winter, we want to keep the post-mortem dance going as long as possible.

Carl Ringer, front left, at a dinner in his honor in 1932. On his left is William George Bruce. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)
Carl Ringer, front left, at a dinner in his honor in 1932. On his left is William George Bruce. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)
Ringer's former Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, now Bethel Baptist. (Photo: Google)
Ringer's former Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, now Bethel Baptist. (Photo: Google)

An architectural Ringer?

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a 1926 article about the earliest architects working in Milwaukee. One sentence particularly caught my attention.

The 1926 article, which appeared in the pages of The Wisconsin Magazine of History, is "Early Day Architects in Milwaukee," written by Alexander Carl Guth – himself an architect, who had served as secretary of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects and of whom Time magazine once described as a, "recent ardent convert to modernism," noting that on a tour of Milwaukee Guth, "said a few words to set Milwaukee conservatives' hair acurl."

The line: "Carl F. Ringer, Sr., can well lay claim to the fact that he is today the dean of Milwaukee architects."

Who?

My fingers couldn't click over to Google fast enough. I learned that Ringer, who worked in the city as an architect since 1881, had also served as city building inspector in 1911-12 and was a member of the Harbor Commission board, too.

When he died in April 1939 at the age of 88 he was remembered as a pioneer of the Socialist movement in Milwaukee, too.

Learning about Ringer is starting to remind me of when I first heard of Charles Malig and the effect he had on Milwaukee's landscape.

I was most interested to learn that Ringer was the architect of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church/Bethel Baptist Church, 2030 W. North Ave., a church I pass often and wonder about nearly every time I see it.

Because it sits on a high point along North Avenue, the cream city brick church is visible for a good distance along the avenue.

Like his contemporary, Henry C. Koch, Ringer was born in Germany and got his start in Milwaukee in the office of George Mygatt. He also worked as an apprentice to Edward Townsend Mix and as construction foreman for James Douglas. Those are pretty stellar credentials.

Ringer struck out on his own in 1881 and according to the historic designation prepared on the church, Zion was one of his first major commissions. (Though the two towers t…

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Student art transforms school buildings into colorful forests.
Student art transforms school buildings into colorful forests.
Student art projects - like this cloud at Roosevelt Middle School - sometimes focus on dreams.
Student art projects - like this cloud at Roosevelt Middle School - sometimes focus on dreams.
Students designed and helped execute this mosaic at Cooper Elementary.
Students designed and helped execute this mosaic at Cooper Elementary.
Student artwork can also help teach other subjects, like writing ...
Student artwork can also help teach other subjects, like writing ...
... or, in the case of these paintings at Fernwood Montessori, science.
... or, in the case of these paintings at Fernwood Montessori, science.

The halls are alive with the art of students

The one thing that makes a closed school building look lifeless and truly dead is the lack of student artwork on the walls.

For me, other than the people, the thing that's most interesting in any school is the student artwork on display.

If you've ever welcomed me into your school and wondered if I'm paying attention, don't worry. I am, I'm just also taking in the paintings and drawings and essays and woodcuts and banners that the kids in your school made.

It's no secret I love school buildings – heck, I wrote a book about 'em – but even those can rarely hold a candle to the creativity and passion that emanates from the children's art on the walls inside.

My kids – surely, like yours – love to draw and color and paint and cut paper and paste and fold and adorn. They concentrate and focus on it more deeply than on almost any other activity.

They pour it all down on the paper because no one has yet told them not to. No one has yet told them what's acceptable and what's not. No one has yet told them what's possible and what's not. Consequently, it's all possible, it's all acceptable. Art is a place to run free. And it's a place where all kids can experience satisfaction and pride.

And you can see it. Even if it's clear that the project is based on a specific assignment, it's inspiring to see the variety of students' responses to the directive.

Kids can learn a lot about other subjects, too, by making art about them. I'm reminded of the science-related paintings I saw hanging in Fernwood Montessori recently.

There's a lot we can learn from kids' approach to art.

My child's teacher says he draws too much. I understand her point and I know what she means, but I often wonder if that's really possible. Some of us work things out through words, others through math. Still others make sense of the world through art.

Look around your school. I sure hope there's art everywhere. Send me photos.

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Millioke's build your own tasting board of Wisconsin cheese and charcuterie is a delight.
Millioke's build your own tasting board of Wisconsin cheese and charcuterie is a delight.
The apps, especially the new pork belly atop a bed of cheesy grits (left), are similarly hearty.
The apps, especially the new pork belly atop a bed of cheesy grits (left), are similarly hearty.
Millioke sources most all its ingredients from Wisconsin, like this trout from Rushing Waters in Palmyra.
Millioke sources most all its ingredients from Wisconsin, like this trout from Rushing Waters in Palmyra.
The bone-in pork chop is a new menu item.
The bone-in pork chop is a new menu item.
The tallow-brushed New York Strip has been on the menu from the start and is a popular favorite.
The tallow-brushed New York Strip has been on the menu from the start and is a popular favorite.
There's a new cocktail menu at Millioke, too, but tread lightly, these are high-octane.
There's a new cocktail menu at Millioke, too, but tread lightly, these are high-octane.

Eating at home at Millioke

Other than a brief tasting at a media preview on opening weekend and a quick lunch, I realized recently, I'd never properly dined at Millioke before. Last weekend, I rectified that.

Part of what spurred me on was news that the menu has changed to reflect the changing ingredients available to Chef Patrick Taylor, who told me last summer:

"The quest never ends. Every day I find a new ingredient, cheese or beer that blows me away. The menu is constantly evolving to highlight what myself, or Sous Chef Brian Atkinson finds."

So, we visited and took advantage of a quiet table in a private dining area that afforded us a great view of the dining room and the comings and goings of guests.

And we started by sampling a pair of cocktails – including a super-strong riff on the classic old fashioned – off a recently revamped drinks menu, and a cheese and charcuterie board that set the evening off on a serious high point.

The snap and light singe of Usinger's spice Linguica was joined by a maple brown sugar-laced Big Fork bacon sausage, Bolzano's delish figgy pudding and a summer sausage from Nueske's.

There were also some incredible cheeses from Widmer in Theresa (a rich, complex six-year cheddar!), Pleasant Ridge in Dodgeville (the firm, nutty white Reserve), Sartori in Plymouth (the award-winning Bellavitano Gold) and Montchevre's sweet, ripened goat brie from Belmont.

The board, which also included cups of two kinds of mustard, cornichons and other nibbles, was a pretty major highlight, though a pair of appetizers was no less satisfying, especially when paired with a flight of Millioke beers brewed specially for the restaurant by Lakefront.

My companion preferred the spicy shrimp, but I devoured the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly cubes, served atop a bed of cheese-laden grits that were sweet and creamy. Sinful but oh so good (in moderation).

My trout entree – an off-menu special with lentils and grilled asparagus – was based around flaky, flavorful fish sourced fro…

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