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The Pfister will soon announce its third artist in residence.
The Pfister will soon announce its third artist in residence.

Vote for a Milwaukee artist

I learned two things about The Pfister this morning: that it houses more Victorian art than any other hotel in the world and that it has an artist in residence program. In fact, it has had one for two years, and now, you can vote for one of six local artists to win the honor for the third year.

The finalists include local artists Shelby Keefe, Stephen P. Ohlrich, Jeremy Plunkett, Kate Pfeiffer, Anthony Suminski and Jim Zwadlo.

To vote, just log onto the Pfister’s Web site or you can do it via Twitter (#ArtistInResidence) or by texting 22333. The voting closes on Saturday, Feb. 13 and the selection committee will announce the winner soon after.

In the meantime, check out the work of these six finalists at Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, during January Gallery Night on Friday, Jan. 21.

The Pfister’s artist-in-residence program features a working art studio and gallery that's open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and experience the art-making process for themselves.

Art therapy is good stuff at any age.
Art therapy is good stuff at any age.

Midlife Isis: Loss is not a naughty word

In the beginning of 2010, when my former husband and I decided to separate, we translated the situation to our sons by saying our family was transforming and that everything changes. I didn’t know at the time that by the end of the year, my father -- the "papa" whom my boys adored -- would die and we would be forced to again speak of change and transformation.

Only this time, there was no way to avoid another word: loss.

This is a word we brushed over during our separation. The loss of our nuclear family was noted, but not dwelled on. But the loss of my father was too great to ignore. After all, this is the guy who picked up the teenage me and my friends from hospitals and dark houses and asked one question: "Are you OK?" The man who took my vehicle-obsessed sons on an Amtrak train just to watch planes at the airport.

This was not a loss to gloss over.

At first, I tried to sweeten up the Story Of Death for my sons, just 7 and 8. I attempted euphemistic yammer about life’s seasons, but like your kids, mine are too stinkin’ smart. They knew my dad was dead, that he wasn’t coming back -- just like the hamsters named Lavender and Lavender Two -- and that it sucks.

So we ducked into grief’s dark corner and sat there, cross legged, for a while. I’m not sure for how long, but eventually, calming little fireflies blinked around our sad hearts and we all started sleeping through the night again.

Then, the boys drew pictures with neon markers of super sad faces, wrote letters with unpunctuated sentences like "I wish you could come back to the earth" and spoke openly of their thoughts and feelings, even at the discomfort of others. My younger son called my mom on the phone and said, "Papa is dead. He is in the ground, in a grave. And even if we dug him up, it would not be Papa. And it would be gross."

My 7-year-old tapped into what every person who suffers loss and experiences grief says: "it comes in waves." He asked me why it is that he feels fine for a lo…

Newspaper clippings sent via snail mail are old school e-mail forwards, I guess.
Newspaper clippings sent via snail mail are old school e-mail forwards, I guess.

Minnesota mom thinks Milwaukee sucks

Whenever my friend’s mom, who lives in Minnesota, sees an article about Milwaukee in her local newspaper, she cuts it out. After she collects three or four clippings, she stuffs them into a card and sends them to my friend.

The most recent collection of Brew City clippings came in late December. One article was about Milwaukee being the fourth-poorest city in the nation and in desperate need to send more residents to college. The others were about a man being fined $500 for cursing on a city bus and the 100-year-old Walmart greeter who was pushed over by an irate customer.

I find this quite humorous, but being a quasi Milwaukee ambassador, I considered cutting out more positive articles about Milwaukee and sending them to her. Then again, that would require me to actually buy a newspaper. Nah.

Is there a secret brotherhood between bus riders? And if so, is there a secret handshake?
Is there a secret brotherhood between bus riders? And if so, is there a secret handshake?

A moving moment between bus riders

With gas prices on the rise and new policies and ideas on the table, it's time to look at how we get around. We all need to get someplace and we use many different modes of transportation to do so. As we kick off 2011 at, we're taking an in-depth look at how we get around with a special "Transportation Week," featuring all kinds of stories about how Milwaukee gets where it's going. So, buckle up, hop on and all aboard.

Maybe I’m being overly emotional today, but I believe I witnessed a nice moment between two bus riders, and since it’s Transportation Week on, I thought I’d share.

I was stopped at a red light on Center Street and Martin Luther King Drive when a guy waiting for a bus on one corner noticed a guy running to catch a bus that was pulling away across the street.

The waiting guy ran towards the bus shouting and waving for the driver to stop and wait for the man who was running to catch the bus. The driver stopped. The man got on the bus. The other man went back to his corner and continued to wait.

And I felt good about people for a minute.