By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Nov 28, 2007 at 12:00 PM

Local gallery owner and head of MARN (Milwaukee Artist Resource Network), Mike Brenner, is angry as hell --  and ready to leave town if a statue of the legendary TV icon Fonzie is erected in Downtown Milwaukee.

In a mass e-mail to local media and in response to a story that broke on Monday, Brenner says that he "hereby SWEARS if that stupid Fonzie sculpture is put up on the corner of Water and Wisconsin in front of the Chase Bank" he'll take action.

Brenner, who was a graphic designer at from 2000-'02, said he will: 

  • Close (his) art gallery, Hotcakes.
  • Resign as executive director of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network
  • Stop all efforts to promote Milwaukee
  • Not spend another penny or second to help Milwaukee or its artists
  • Make a serious effort to find work in another city and leave Milwaukee

Brenner also writes that he'll also "close all of his accounts with JP Morgan Chase," since "JP Morgan chase has the largest corporate art collection in the U.S. and if they will stand for this and the people of Milwaukee stand for this, I NEED to leave Milwaukee."

The rest of the scathing e-mail reads:

"Milwaukee is barely surviving and if the leadership of this city
think Fonzie will save us, they need to be replaced. this is an us
versus them situation (those with common sense and taste versus the douche bags)

  •  the Blue Shirt was killed making us an international joke
  • the Bamboo Park was replaced with a parking lot for a seafood restaurant
  • Now the plan is to put a giant statue of Fonzie on the busiest corner  in the entire City of Milwaukee?"

You are all insane!" Visit Milwaukee's Dave Fantle, one of the champions of the Bronze the Fonz effort, sent this response to Brenner, and cced the dozens of recipients of his original e-mail:

Dear Mike,

I'd be happy to talk with you about the project over a cup of 
coffee and clarify some of the missperceptions you have on the 
project. For example, it was never planned for Water and Wisconsin. 

It's essentially a Riverwalk project and therefore will have its 
home along the Riverwalk, preferably between Wisconsin and 
Michigan. It is far from a "giant" project. Mr. Winkler is about 5' 
7" and the sculpture will be life-like in size recognizing both an 
iconic TV character and an outstanding humanitarian. Also, the 
local artist we have selected, Jerry Sawyer, has worked in 
sculpture for almost 40 years and is highly respected in the art 
community. Lastly, all the money raised will be recirculated into 
the local economy - for the artist, foundry, etc.

Again, more than happy to chat with you in greater detail on the project as I certainly think you will find that you can peacefully 
co-exist with the Fonz.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.