On May 28, 2008 artist (and OnMilwaukee.com interactive designer from 2000-2002) Mike Brenner closed his art gallery, Hotcakes, in response to an announcement that Visit Milwaukee had raised the $85,000 needed to build a life-sized monument to TV character, Arthur Fonzerelli, in less than two months.
At the time, he said, "The so called 'leaders' of this town have their heads up their asses," said Brenner. "They spend $1.1M on a poorly executed light display for the Marcus Center and $85,000 on a Bronze Fonz. The people with money and power in Milwaukee are SO disconnected with what's really going on in the world. Until they all retire to Phoenix or die, Milwaukee is set on a steady course to become the next Detroit."
Now, after eight years Brenner has officially resigned as Executive Director of MIlwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN). Brenner declared in a news release, "A city so eager to erect a Bronze Fonze is clearly intellectually bankrupt. I can no longer give my time or money to a city so resistant to moving forward and embracing progress. All my friends were right to leave this city the minute we graduated from high school."
No new director has been named.
Eight years ago, Brenner and five other concerned artists formed the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) in an effort to make Milwaukee a city worth living in by supporting individual literary, performing and visual artists. "I didn't need Richard Florida to show me a pie chart to know that the key to economic development is having a thriving community of active intellectuals," stated Brenner.
To his credit, MARN has become a hub of the arts community and grown to include more than 1,200 artists by providing mentoring programs for professional artists, exhibition opprtunities, workshops and e-mails that keep the community abreast of all local arts events.
Brenner has said that he's moving from Milwaukee, but he remains a resident and is said to be bartending in town while looking for work elsewhere.