Walker’s Point-based ceramics sculptor, teacher and architectural historian Ben Tyjeski is also a leader of walking tours around town; ones that focus on the city’s terra cotta, the subject of a book he’s working to get published.
"Milwaukee Terra Cotta: 1881-1934" examines, in his words, "50 years of decorative clay sculpture on buildings in Milwaukee County" and I, for one, can’t wait to see it.
You can help Tyjeski get closer to making the book a reality by participating in one of his tours and paying what you can as a donation toward the publication of the book.
Although you missed his "White Terra-Cotta District" tour in Westown last month, this weekend he’s leading a tour of the East Side, which begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 24 and lasts for about an hour.
He’ll cover just under two miles, starting at the west entrance of Maryland Avenue Montessori School, 2418 N. Maryland Ave., where he’ll surely discuss the three Queen Anne panels on the 1893 Schnetzky and Liebert addition to the school – and perhaps the carved motifs at the west entrance (which may actually be carved stone) – before perhaps turning around to talk about the tiles embedded in the facade of the Korsch Moving and Storage building across the street.
I bet he’ll also discuss the Clocktower building on Prospect and North, as well as the gorgeous Tullgren buildings a couple blocks south.
His description of the tour says, "To hear about fairy tale castles, gothic warehouses, and art deco high rises, come join me on the East Side! You will be surprised with the diversity of decorative terra cotta that enchants this neighborhood."
On Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. he leads a bike tour of King Drive that starts at Messmer High on Capitol Drive and ends at Schlitz Park.
Details about the tours, about Tyjeski’s work and more can be found 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.