He's the man you love to hate, Fonz fans, but Mike Brenner helped found Milwaukee Artists Resource Network, once ran what was one of the best galleries this city has seen in a long time, and is one of the few people willing to throw himself in front of the train for public art. So, like him or not, Brenner has been an asset to this town.
Brenner said what a lot of people thought about the Bronze Fonz but didn't have the cojones to say themselves. You can disagree with his tactics -- and I know a lot of people do -- but anyone who appreciates the revolutionary spirit of artists across history -- or loved punk rock for even a day -- can't help but admire his sheer gall in the name of art.
I think Brenner's misstep in the Fonz issue was mistaking it for public art. But his frustration at seeing the money appear for a project like that when raising funds for public art is like pulling teeth is completely understandable.
Now that our alderman are going on record saying things like, "I wouldn't pay 50 cents for the Mona Lisa," in reference to the Janet Zweig public art piece planned for Wisconsin Avenue, Brenner -- a former OnMilwaukee.com graphic designer -- is leading the troops once again.
His latest stunt -- if that's the correct word for it -- is a dance track he produced using a voicemail message apparently left for him by Ald. Joseph Dudzik who gave Brenner his home address so that the latter could "come over and defecate on (the alderman's) lawn." You can hear the track here.
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.