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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

Tue
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Lo: 51
Wed
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Lo: 55
Thu
Hi: 70
Lo: 53
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It's a bird, it's a ... ?
It's a bird, it's a ... ?
Maria Lee works in the sunshine.
Maria Lee works in the sunshine.
Children love climbing on the lochness.
Children love climbing on the lochness.
One of the creatures is still "naked."
One of the creatures is still "naked."
Paint and more paint.
Paint and more paint.
The story of Izy.
The story of Izy.
The story of Izy. With feet.
The story of Izy. With feet.

Cass Street Park creatures get new "clothing"

16 years ago, Marina Lee sculpted and painted a group of whimsical public art "creatures" for the Cass Street Park, 1647 N. Cass St.

Lee is currently repainting five of the colorful animal hybrids. I happened to show up at the playground to check out the creatures while she was painting and got to ask her a few questions about the project.

"I repainted 'Mimi the Lochness' once already because that one the kids can climb on and they, literally, wore off the paint," says Lee. "That’s a good thing."

The Brady Street BID, The Zilber Family Foundation and neighbors of the school funded the repainting project. Moving forward, Lee hopes to be able to repaint them every six years.

Lee sanded the creatures "bare" and then applied a coating of gel paint and primer before the colorful design work.

"I like to think of this as a fantasy safe place," says Lee. "I always like to promote imagination with kids and adults. And children are our future art patrons."

Lee has taken input from people passing by while she’s painting.

"This one has a lot of pink and purple in it because a little girl asked me if I could paint with those colors," she says.

Some of the creatures have names and stories, etched into signage – which is also being replaced.

Lee, a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), owns a studio in Riverwest called Beginning Dreams. She is also the artist behind Snail’s Crossing Park and the fiberglass planters at "Five Points" where Port Washington Road, Martin Luther King Drive and Keefe Avenue intersect.

Lee began the Cass Street creature repainting process in early August and will finish sometime next week.

"This project has been very rewarding for me," says Lee.

Milwaukee Blacksmith is a family affair.
Milwaukee Blacksmith is a family affair.

Milwaukee Blacksmith selected as finalist for Martha Stewart awards

Milwaukee Blacksmith is a finalist for The 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards. The annual competition invites makers, small-business owners and creative entrepreneurs to compete for cash and prizes.

There will be 10 winners – nine chosen by a panel of judges and one by the audience.

Winners will receive a trip for two to New York City to attend the American Made event; a spot in the American Made Market; $10,000 to grow their business; a video produced by Stewart’s in-house team; and the opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine and on SiriusXM radio.

Milwaukee Blacksmith "uses old school techniques and modern tooling to create everything from a coat hook to a driveway gate."

Kent Knapp serves as the lead blacksmith and his wife, Shannon, handles the business, marketing and promotion. Their three sons work in the shop as apprentices and their daughter provides prep and design for the company. (The couple also have a 2-year-old daughter and a baby on the way.)

"Our family goal is to create custom heirlooms for our clients to enjoy and know will get passed on for generations," says Knapp. "Our deep respect for the history of blacksmithing in Milwaukee and the craft itself makes our work the definition of a 'labor of love.' We honor that tradition by offering classes to spark the interest in future blacksmiths and pass down the knowledge of thousands of years."

To vote for Milwaukee Blacksmith, go here. Voting ends on Oct. 14, 2014. People can vote up to six times a day.

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Dan Fitzgibbons extensively remodeled The Curve - formerly O'Brady's - before opening it last year.
Dan Fitzgibbons extensively remodeled The Curve - formerly O'Brady's - before opening it last year.

The Curve Bar to close

When Dan Fitzgibbons opened The Curve Bar last year, he knew the building, 1127 N. Water St., would be redeveloped someday. He hoped to have a few years in the space, but found out last week that his lease would be terminated at the end of September.

Today, he learned that he could remain in the space until mid-October. You could say it was an unexpected turn for The Curve.

"It is what it is. They gave me the dice cup, I rolled, I lost," says Fitzgibbons, who formerly owned Fitzgibbons Pub at 1127 N. Water St.

An apartment building called The Rhythm will replace The Curve.

Fitzgibbons isn’t sure what the future holds for him, but he hopes it includes bar ownership.

"I’d love to find another space around here," he says. "I lived on the East Side my entire life."

The Curve will host a farewell party at the end of the month or in early October.

District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
The first four.
The first four.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
Stools and floorboards.
Stools and floorboards.

District 14 Brewery & Pub swings open its doors

We barged in on Matt McCulloch today with only three hours before the soft opening of his new pub and brewery, District 14, at 2273 S. Howell Ave. in the former Custom Designed Lighting space.

Although McCulloch was still finishing up the flooring, he was kind enough to take a break for a few minutes to tell us more about his venture.

District 14, located next door to Cafe Lulu, will have a soft opening tonight, starting at 7 p.m. For now, all sales are cash-only.

McCulloch will brew all of the beer at District 14. He will open tonight with a brown ale, dark chocolate ale, American pale and Kolsch. Eventually, he will have 10 different beers on tap which will be available in pints and growlers.

District 14 beer might be available at Lulu, but for the most part, will be sold exclusively from the bar.

"I have a small system," he says.

District 14 will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the grand opening that will take place in October. (The exact date is TBA.) It will then be open every night of the week.

McCulloch, who is originally from Kenosha and now lives in Muskego, has been brewing for a decade, but says he got serious about it three years ago. Prior to the brewery, McCulloch had a small recording business and worked as a freelance wedding photographer.

District 14 is cozy and warm with an acacia hardwood floor and a large basswood bar. McCulloch did all of the woodwork himself – with help from his friend, Gary. It has taken about a year and a half to go from concept to opening day.

"I’ve been working on it for so long that I’m anxious to get it open now," he says. "I’m pretty proud."