Hotcakes Gallery owner Mike Brenner, who first threatened to close the Riverwest gallery and leave town if the Bronze Fonz project went ahead and later announced a campaign to raise money for a Bronze Brenner, announced today via Twitter that he's putting his money where his mouth is.
"I give up," Brenner wrote. "The Bronze Fonze has been fully funded. I am announcing tomorrow my plans to close Hotcakes as of July 3. It's been fun. Thanks!"
There is no mention of the closing or the announcement on the Hotcakes Web site.
Late in December, Brenner closed the gallery in protest of what he called, "that stupid (expletive) Fonzie monument."
UPDATE, as of Friday, Jan. 25, 9:50 a.m.:
A few hours after this blog appeared yesterday, Brenner sent an e-mail to friends and media:
"It's official. In less than three months, Visit Milwaukee (Miwaukee's convention and visitors bureau) has raised the $75,000 it needs to erect the Bronze Fonz, a monument to the small-town Milwaukee of old. It's with great sadness, I announce that on July 3, Hotcakes Gallery will close its doors for good. I cannot see running a contemporary art gallery in a city whose "leadership" is so eager to invest it's limited resources in garbage instead of fostering it's burgeoning arts community.
"Feb. 6 marks Hotcakes Gallery's fourth birthday. It has been a wonderful four years. I truly appreciate everyone who showed up and supported me in my attempt to engage, excite and educate the general public with affordable, contemporary art and music. I made many new friends and had many incredible experiences I will never forget. I extend special thanks to those of you who put your money where your mouth was and invested in art.
"My plan for the near future is to focus on my role as Executive Director of MARN (Milwaukee Artist Resource Network). MARN has been working closely with the Eastside Business Improvement District to build an arts incubator on the East Side of Milwaukee, and I would like to see the project through to completion. I plan to spend the next couple years trying to raise the necessary funds to create a truly cutting-edge arts center that will nurture the next generation of artists and arts supporters.
"My goal is to put Milwaukee on the map and make it an international destination for creative thinkers and doers. I want the world to see what I see ... a city full of warmhearted, hardworking, creative individuals who deserve to be defined by so much more than beer, brats, cheese and Arthur Fonzerelli (sic)."
Brenner also told OnMilwaukee.com Friday that he received a death threat via telephone.
"(I) was called gay and gay boy several times in the message and told that if I ever link Dahmer and the Packers together again in the same sentence that I will 'end up like Dahmer.'"
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.