Tag Archives: design

Happy hippy campers: Tents take a stylish turn

Whether they’re providing cozy shelter from the elements outdoors or top-secret privacy in the playroom, a number of style-savvy new tents put the “fun” in a functional structure.

Land of Nod has several tepees with pizzaz. Color-happy and neutral-toned cotton canvas comes in an array of stripes, dots or dip-dye patterns, supported by easy-to-assemble bamboo poles. Big comfy cushions are available for some models. (www.landofnod.com)

At Target, polyester fabric has a canvas look; a Southwestern print in charcoal and white would blend with lots of decor. (www.target.com)

A starry night sky graces a tepee at Wayfair. Several unadorned models can be personalized by crafty kids with paint, stamps, streamers and the like. (www.wayfair.com)

Pottery Barn has one for the sophisticated little camper, embellished with gold metallic dots. A plain white tent is roomy enough for sleepovers, and has a peek-out window. (www.potterybarn.com)

Good design isn’t relegated to just the kiddie campers, though. Tents for adults and families have creative patterns and high-tech features.

Some are more suited to fair-weather outdoor activities like park picnics or music festivals. But many are engineered for the rigors of serious camping.

Field Candy’s a website for tents with personality. One looks like a giant wedge of juicy watermelon. Another resembles the splayed-out pages of a hardcover book. Faux brick or wood tents fool the eye, and so does one with a lush lawn photo-printed on it. Flags from various countries are featured on others. You can imagine yourself hunkered down on the side of the Matterhorn in a tent printed with a realistic image of the Swiss Alps. (www.fieldcandy.com)

Camping with a crowd? Consider the London Underground Tube tent, which sleeps 16.

A smaller gang could snuggle up in the VW Bus tent, a full-size replica of Volkswagen’s iconic camper van. (www.firebox.com)

The 130-pound Cocoon Tree from Glamping Technology might catch the attention of passersby. Resembling an alien spacecraft, it consists of a spherical aluminum frame covered with waterproof fabric and the interior is equipped with a king-size mattress. All you need is two or three strong trees to which to anchor it, using the supplied ropes and nets. Or if you’re tree-challenged, use the four stabilizing feet included to place the Cocoon on solid ground. The tent sleeps four. (www.cocoontree.com)

Tentsile, a tent maker in London, has a model called the Stingray that you can suspend in the trees. Intended for camping where ground conditions are inhospitable, the Stingray can also be suspended between boulders, vehicles or other large, stationary anchors. You can enter it through the front door or through a floor vent. (www.tentsile.com)

Fjallraven’s Abisko three-season tent sleeps two and features an inner tent surrounded by vestibules that can be rolled up out of the way. The inner tent is made of mesh fabric and the flysheet has vents, making the tent a good one for hot weather camping. (www.fjallraven.us)

Big Agnes, an outfitter in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, offers a wide range of tents for everything from base camping to trail hiking. Weighing a little over a pound, the Fly Creek 1 Platinum provides 22 square feet of sleeping space, enough for two. The Yellow Jacket 3 mtnGLO, which sleeps up to four, has LED lights in the tent fabric; perfect for card playing or reading. (www.bigagnes.com)


Villa Terrace makes Roy Staab a monumental focus

Every step down the long wooden staircase is worth it. It follows the steep slope of the Renaissance Garden behind the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, a nearly century-old Italianate villa-turned-museum on Milwaukee’s East Side. What makes the descent particularly special at this time is Roy Staab’s sculpture, “Shadow Dance,” newly installed in the lower garden.

Installation view of "Shadow Dance." Photograph by Kat Minerath.
Installation view of “Shadow Dance.” Photograph by Kat Minerath.

“Shadow Dance” can already be seen from the terraces above. It is a monumental linear design of precise geometries that seems to hover over a lush lawn.

Composed of symmetrically-placed circles organized around a central ring, it appears as though each part is made of one continuous form, like endless saplings trained to be supple acrobats, bending in extreme forms without breaking. It is beautiful from that distance, but even more extraordinary when visited in close proximity.

Staab is an internationally-known artist who works with natural materials to create site-specific artwork. He describes his practice as environmental site installation. It is something of the earth, created in tune with nature, but left to become deconstructed by the outdoor elements over time.

These circles and lines are forms we might think of as belonging to the worlds of science, engineering, mathematics and graphs, or the clarity of minimalism.

Through Staab’s handling, they do not challenge nature but instead join it gracefully.

Roy Staab building "Storm King," 1989; reeds and jute; Hudson River north of West Point, New York. Photograph by Kristin Long. Published in the catalogue "Roy Staab: Suspended in Time," Plumb Press, 2016.
Roy Staab building “Storm King,” 1989; reeds and jute; Hudson River north of West Point, New York. Photograph by Kristin Long. Published in the catalogue “Roy Staab: Suspended in Time,” Plumb Press, 2016.

“Shadow Dance” is part of the larger exhibition Nature in Three Parts. It is partnered with Suspended in Time, an photographic exhibition of Staab’s installations from around the world.

The physical pieces are temporary, but they exist long after through pictures and video. In the upper galleries they are displayed in rooms and along a long hallway, introducing the forms and material inherent in the artist’s work.

Staab often takes on the challenge of working in water, always using native reeds, jute, saplings and grasses to build his designs. The photographs show sculptures emerging from liquid landscapes around the world — the Hamptons, New Orleans, Denmark, India, and Korea.

Many pieces seem to levitate, while others are made directly on the earth by imprints in sand and soil. Sometimes they are made from footprints, like marking a place for ritual or meditation.

While examining the photographs, a visitor experiences music drifting through the hall. It comes from an elegantly appointed room with hand-printed wallpaper where two monitors show videos of Staab’s work.

Settling into a leather chair, the images of his environmental installations blend with the view out the window. The horizon meets Lake Michigan, echoing the ripples of water flowing around the sculptures on screen.

Complementing this introduction to Roy Staab’s work is Beyond Baskets, with selections he curated from the collection of John Shannon and Jan Serr. These are also shown upstairs, beautifully installed in a dark-paneled library.

The pieces are laid out on clear pedestals, lit to sparkle, and arranged around Jiro Yonezawa’s striking “Red Heat Haze.” It rises toward the ceiling as a woven bamboo column ornamented with crimson silk thread.

Installation view of "Beyond Baskets." Photograph by Kat Minerath.
Installation view of “Beyond Baskets.” Photograph by Kat Minerath.

It must be noted that the term “basket” must be taken very loosely. There are examples of traditional handwoven Japanese baskets, but many pieces draw from these techniques and then dispense with utilitarian purposes altogether. In this way they expand, breathing out into dynamic shapes.

Their spirit echoes Staab’s work, and also moves into more irregular forms, such as Yonezawa’s “Chat” or “Samsara I.” Crafted from bamboo, they delineate patterns that encircle large negative spaces at their centers. Their compositions are made from the pliable, physical nature of their materials, and the immateriality of air at their center.

Suspended in Time and Beyond Baskets are about form, medium, and space on vastly different scales. Returning to the sculpture in the Renaissance Garden, the walk down the stairs takes the visitor to “Shadow Dance.” It is a captivatingly visceral experience.

The details of the sculpture are now visible as exquisite, intricate bundles of willow, bound together with reeds. Tall saplings form a support from which the circles are suspended, but not in even layers. Multiple levels emerge and shapes that appeared simple from a distance are suddenly far more complex and mysterious.

This is the real experience of Staab’s work, becoming part of nature articulated and created through the art.

Roy Staab: Nature in Three Parts continues through September 18 at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. Admission is $7, $5 for seniors/military/students over 12. Visit villaterracemuseum.org for details.



Real Time 

Alfons Gallery, 1501 S. Layton Ave.

7 p.m. July 1



Dance joins photography and installation art in this one-night event. Held in conjunction with the exhibition Concrete River: Memorial and Promise on the Kinnickinnic, Andrea Chastant Burkholder and Daniel Burkholder curate the initial presentation of this new performance series to be held the first Friday of every month. The performance, 30 minutes in duration, will be repeated three times throughout the evening.


Chris Tishler

Tonic Tavern, 2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

7 to 9 p.m. July 1

Chris Tishler is known in the music scene as the frontman for the lounge-inspired Five Card Studs and the hard rocking band Chief, and also active as an artist. These varied creative pursuits makes Tonic a perfect venue for this exhibition featuring his work, which often ranges from abstract to atmospheric to representational painting.


Thomas Hart Benton, "Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire)," 1948. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Thomas Hart Benton, “Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire),” 1948. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr.

6:15 p.m. July 8

The current exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum, American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, spotlights the artist’s relationship with Hollywood. In this Friday night series, films related to Benton’s paintings will be screened in the Lubar Auditorium, starting with the steamy classic, A Streetcar Named Desire. 

Garden art brings drama, design outdoors

If you came across any of Barbara Sanderson’s work in a garden, you might think you’d stepped into Alice’s Wonderland. The Seattle-based glass blower crafts flowers, arbors, lights and fountains for natural settings, aiming to create a magical, otherworldly tableau.

“I love to add another dimension to what already exists,” she says.

Art created for the outdoors can bring drama and design to a garden or patio. Sheila Jeffrey, a landscape designer from Collingwood, Ontario, suggests thinking of outdoor space as you would a room, with a floor, walls and ceiling.

“As with interior art, consider the overall theme or feel of the space when you’re choosing outdoor accents,” she says.

“Walls or fences are often overlooked and are a great place for an interesting focal point.”

For wall art, consider vintage objects, such as picture frames, mirrors, cast iron grates, architectural elements or antique signs as outdoor wall art.

Arrange groupings of small vessels like planted terra cotta pots, buckets or paint cans. Put themed vignettes on shelves.

“Vintage ‘60s metal wall sculptures are a favorite of mine,” says Jeffrey, “and you can often find them at yard sales. Clear-coat them with a good exterior-grade polyurethane before displaying.”

Sanderson’s inspiration for making outdoor pieces comes from fond memories of visiting her grandfather’s English garden as a teenager.

“I spent some time gazing into his pond, appreciating the soothing sound that water makes in a garden setting,” Sanderson recalls. “I returned home determined to create a water feature for myself. That was the beginning of my focus on garden artwork.”

She forms glass into colorful, plump little birds that can be placed in a found nest, or in one of Sanderson’s spun-glass nests. Pitcher plants in vibrant hues of gold and carmine, mounted on copper rods, catch the rain.

There are Seussian fiddlehead ferns and mushrooms, as well as colorful “glacicles” rigged with lights to line a path or poolside.

And for a pond or birdbath, Sanderson has created the “bee preserver,” a glass ball studded with glass nubs so that bees have something on which to rest when they’re drinking. (www.glassgardensnw.com )

Margie Grace, a landscape designer in Santa Monica, California, often incorporates salvaged elements like driftwood, branches and stones into her projects. They can be used to make mosaics and interesting screens. She used an old metal bed as a planter, with flowers as the “pillows” and “quilt.” Her fondness for functional art led her to create a “canalito,” a canal made from stones that carries away storm water, while winding artfully around trees and beds.

“Art can evoke the very nature of a place,” she says, pointing out a kinetic sculpture in a hill-top garden that mimics the pelicans soaring off a nearby bluff. (www.gracedesignassociates.com )

If your balcony or backyard has no view, consider one of Gizaun Art’s wooden wall panels. The Portland, Oregon-based studio uses all-weather, ultraviolet, translucent inks to apply photo images of flowers and landscapes onto red cedar boards, ready for hanging. Designs include sunflowers, lighthouses and landscapes. (www.gizaunart.com )

Wind and Weather stocks some backlit, punched art crafted from recycled metal drum lids in Bali. Choose from a zodiac, sun and moon, or several whimsical designs like cats on a moonlit fence, or a train chugging through a wintry night. (www.windandweather.com )

For a small terrace, the Trigg geometric container, designed by Moe Takemura for Umbra, might be just the thing. The sleek, diamond-shaped ceramic or concrete-resin vessels perch inside a slim brass frame. They could hold herbs, succulents or extra keys. (www.allmodern.com )


What a hotel can teach us about home design

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a hotel room and you just want to fall on that big white bedspread with the fluffy pillows?

Here are some tips from three hotel brands — Renaissance, Baccarat and Loews — on how to create that same serene and inviting atmosphere at home.



Marriott opens the Renaissance NY Midtown hotel this spring in Manhattan. Its design concept involves creating moments of “surprise and delight” in public spaces like the lobby and dining areas, as well as in guest rooms. For example, open a closet door and inside you’ll find bold graphics livening up a space that’s usually unadorned.

Toni Stoeckl, vice president of Marriott’s Lifestyle Brands, offers these tips for a similar approach in home design:

  • Target all the senses, including “what you see, the music, the fragrance,” said Stoeckl.
  • Pepper the environment with “moments to love,” he said. But remember: “Less is more: If you have too much art, you can’t pay attention to any one piece.” Good interior design is “more about uncovering beauty and decluttering space.”
  • Keep design elements “real and authentic. No fake flowers, no fake candles.”
  • Change artwork periodically. “Have a few pieces of art that you rotate,” said Stoeckl. Consider using the seasons as a scheduling guide for when to change displays.
  • Showcase objects and art that have layers of interest or meaningful stories. For example, a large, bright red work of abstract art near the hotel’s front desk is comprised entirely of buttons, but you can’t see the buttons until you get close. The button art was inspired by the hotel’s neighborhood: It’s in Manhattan’s Garment District, and many of its design elements are connected to the apparel and fashion industries, from little ceramic sewing machine decorations in guest rooms, to quotes from famous designers placed on coffee tables in the club lounge. Another large artwork displaying a quote from Diane von Furstenberg — “Attitude is everything”— is made from tiny pushpins.

“We want you to look at the space, but there is another layer, and we want you to look again,” said Stoeckl.



Baccarat is not just a famous brand of French crystal. There’s also the Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York, across from the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Chandeliers, glassware and artwork made from Baccarat crystal are hallmarks of the hotel decor, but so is lighting. “The idea of illumination is one of the central reasons why we created the hotel,” said Kemper Hyers, head of design for Starwood Capital Group, which created the hotel.

Yet lighting is sometimes overlooked in home design. Lighting your home isn’t just about finding the perfect lamp, Hyers said. It’s also about “painting with light. How do I bring this room to light?”

Some tips:

  • Experiment with tape embedded with LED lights. It’s inexpensive, easy to apply and remove, and widely available. The tape is not only handy for illuminating a shelf or dark corner, but it can also light a wall behind a piece of furniture or spotlight a work of art.
  • When you buy LED bulbs, “don’t go any cooler than 2700 warm white,” said Hyers, referring to the numerical scale used to measure bulb color. The higher the number, the whiter and cooler the light.
  • Bulb design improves every few months, so look for the latest options and “play with a mix of bulbs.” You can even buy LED bulbs shaped like classic “Edison bulbs with the long filament, perfectly done,” Hyers said.



Loews Hotels launched a “Loews Knows” campaign in December offering short videos at https://www.loewshotels.com/loews-knows with “hints and hacks” from housekeeping managers and other staff. Topics range from cleaning to entertaining to creating the right ambience.

Some tips:

  • For “insanely fluffy bed pillows,” toss pillows in a dryer with a tennis ball.
  • To dust “like a pro,” use a microfiber cloth (avoid terrycloth). Spritz cleaning solution on the cloth (not on the surface you’re dusting) and wipe in a circular motion from high to low.
  • To create a cozy ambience for a relaxing bath, light a candle, add essential oils and Epsom salts to the water, and provide accessories, both functional and decorative: sponges, stones, body wash and handmade soap. Place a drink and book tubside, with a fluffy robe and slippers.
  • To make a guest room welcoming, fold down covers, stand pillows up, put a bottle of water on one side and a glass of milk with cookies and sliced fruit on the other, close the shades and leave one light on by the bed.
  • To remove crayon from walls, spray WD-40 and scrub vigorously with a rag or paper towel. To remove coffee stains from fabric, blot with light beer, club soda, white vinegar or baby wipes, then scrub with a toothbrush. To remove a red wine stain, soak a cloth in white wine and blot gently.


Right at Home: Green is a go for spring decor

When we start thinking “spring,” one color comes to mind. Tender pea shoots, that soft fuzziness on budding trees, a new lawn — there’s a palette of green that herald nature’s shift to the warm seasons.

And there are many fresh ways to bring green indoors with paint and furnishings.

“Green is Mother Nature’s favorite color. It’s so abundant in the world around us that we’re accustomed to seeing it as a background color,” says Lee Eiseman, head of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training near Seattle.

She also points out the “good-for-you” connotations of green — eating fruits and vegetables, juicing and so on — and the generally calming nature of the hue.

“We’re looking for that restful shade to bring the outside in, and provide balance in our lives,” she says.

Dee Schlotter, the spokesperson for PPG Brands, design and color marketers and makers of PPG Paints, says, “Green is restorative, rejuvenating and fresh. Being in nature brings an ease or a relaxation that’s almost immediate. Recreating that feeling in the home is very popular right now.”

The company has chosen Paradise Found as their 2016 color of the year. It’s a soothing gray-green with a hint of blue.

Greens like this play well with others. Combining gray-green with matte black modernizes a traditional space. Paired with white, the color becomes more mineral and organic.

Farrow & Ball has a new, leafy, verdant hue with historic provenance to help commemorate the paint maker’s 70th anniversary.

“Yeabridge Green was originally found in an 18th century Georgian farmhouse in the (United Kingdom) county of Somerset,” creative director Charlie Cosby recalls. During renovation, an original gun cupboard was removed, revealing the paint color.

Rich and earthy, it’s a green in the family of avocado, olive and evergreen.

Crate & Barrel’s Marin collection of artisan-made stoneware comes in a relaxed yet sophisticated lemongrass shade. There’s a soft wool rug named Baxter in the hue as well. (www.crateandbarrel.com )

If you’re trying green for the first time, Eiseman advises looking at the blue-greens. “They’re the most universally pleasant and least risky,” she says. “Particularly teals and deep turquoise.”

West Elm has a little midcentury-style desk and wooden counter stools in a gentle blue-green they’re calling “oregano.” (www.westelm.com )

CB2 has a sleek, low-profile dresser done in high-gloss mint lacquer. They also have a mint, powder-coated steel filing cabinet, and an array of minty trays, vases and napery. (www.cb2.com )

Saturated shades like chartreuse, citron and lime give a “pop” to walls and home accessories. At All Modern, find bold, zigzag-printed throws and slipper chairs from Amity Home, Deny Designs and Handy Living. (www.allmodern.com )

Kitchenaid’s mixers and tools come in a fresh apple green. (kitchenaid.com)

Looking for other colors with which to pair green?

“Reach across the color wheel and choose the complementary colors,” Eiseman says. “It’s the rose tones, wines and warm purples that are very effective with shades of green.”

Frank Lloyd Wright School raises $2 million to remain open

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has reached a $2 million fundraising goal that will keep it from shutting down.

The Scottsdale-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announced this week that the school’s doors would remain open, The Arizona Republic reports.

The institution’s future has been up in the air after it lost accreditation status last year. The Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, which accredits universities and colleges, decided it would no longer recognize schools that are part of larger institutions with missions beyond education.

Because the foundation also oversees historical-building preservation and the Wright archives in New York, the academic program must be incorporated as a financially independent subsidiary. The $2 million will help make that happen.

The foundation and architecture school is now working on a “change of control” application to the Higher Learning Commission, including legal and incorporation documents. The commission is expected to review the application in June. If approved, the school can file documents with both federal and state agencies. The process is expected to be completed by 2017.

Wright, who died in 1959, designed 1,141 architectural works. More than one-third of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are in a National Historic District.

The school operates at two campuses, Taliesin West in Scottsdale and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Students attend the Scottsdale campus in the spring and fall terms, with summer classes held in Wisconsin. The school offers a three-year master’s program and has continued to admit students since the accreditation change.

The Frank Lloyd Wright school had only 23 students during the recent fall term, making it likely the nation’s smallest accredited, degree-granting architecture program. Dean Aaron Betsky said the school hopes to grow to around 40 to 45 students by 2019 and eventually 60 to 65 students.

More than 217 individuals, foundations and corporations contributed to the $2 million “independence campaign.” Donors included several high-profile architects such as Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, known for the design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Under new leader, MIAD continues transforming Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design was a pioneer in transforming the Third Ward from an area of urban decline into one of the city’s trendiest, most vibrant neighborhoods.

Now MIAD, which opened in 1974, is a leading force in transforming Milwaukee from a Rust Belt city into an artsy hipster oasis, a city of galleries, smart shops and foodie destinations that Jeff Morin said feels like parts of Manhattan, only without the urban canyons that swallow you up.

Morin, who became MIAD president in June, doesn’t like to hear Milwaukee referred to as “the new Portland.” He said Portland is the Milwaukee of the West Coast.

Morin has spent 30 years in higher education, most of it in the University of Wisconsin system. Most recently, he was dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 

In addition to teaching, he’s an award-winning artist, writer, exhibiting artist, curator and lecturer. Some of his works hang on the wall of his office, including a rendering of Matthew Shepard against a coyote fence, pierced with arrows. Shepard is the gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. His death became a rallying point for a new generation of gay activists.

Does the picture indicate that MIAD is a gay-friendly school? “You’ll have to ask my husband,” Morin quipped.

When WiG caught up with Morin in October, he was in the throes of a honeymoon regarding his new hometown and employer. He was spilling over with ambitious ideas for MIAD’s role in a city he considers at the vanguard of the nation’s emerging arts economy.

Majors include interior architectural design, industrial design, fine arts, communication design (graphic arts), illustration and new studio practice. Students in all areas of design have capstone projects. They develop them during their junior and senior years. Capstones include everything from art installation to models of building interiors to designs of tools.

Morin says students leave well prepared to work in design, where jobs have increased by 43 percent over the past decade. 

The institute, which has a student population of 630 and offers only undergraduate degrees, is constantly creating new programs to reflect the design needs of the real world. As Morin described it, MIAD has a strong academic program but focuses equally on real-world training that will result in post-graduation jobs.

Although 40 percent of MIAD students come from out of state, roughly 80 percent of them remain in Milwaukee, where they play an integral role in helping to develop the city’s arts economy. MIAD grads are heavily represented in fine arts awards and gallery shows. They also work for Milwaukee Tool, Kohl’s, Harley-Davidson, interior design firms, publishers and advertising/marketing firms. Thirty-three percent are entrepreneurs who start small businesses in the area.

MIAD’s placement rate within one year of graduation is 83 percent.

Wear comfortable shoes

If you plan to walk through the sprawling three-floor former factory that MIAD occupies, bring comfortable shoes. Cement covers each floor, which is about the length of a football field. It’s perfect for artists, because you can’t mess it up by spilling paint or dropping something heavy, Morin pointed out.

The building’s galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The massive raw space lends itself easily to being temporarily divided into classrooms, galleries, supply spaces — whatever is needed at the moment. The huge floor-to-ceiling windows not only provide great views of the city, river and lake, but also infuse an abundance of the kind of natural light so prized by artists. No nearby buildings get in the way.

The light and water are two of Morin’s favorite things about the city and MIAD.

Since graduating from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Morin has lived in Philadelphia and New York City, where he worked in advertising, before deciding to check out the Midwest, a region of the country wholly unfamiliar to him at the time but, as it turned out, very agreeable to him.

The first member of his family to attend college, Morin ended up at UW-Madison, where he earned master of art degrees in both studio art and fine art. He also holds a certificate in fundraising management from the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University. 

For the first couple of weeks at MIAD, he lived in the student resident across the street from the main building, which features two-bedroom, two-bath units. “I loved it,” he said. “(The apartments) are gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.”

Now he’s settled on the city’s east side, from where he enjoys a brief commute on North Lincoln Memorial Drive along the lakefront and through “some of the most beautiful components of the city.”

Public vs. private

After working in public higher education, Morin is basking in the relative freedom of a private college.

“We’ve had some of the same tough financial discussions here that we had in the UW system,” Morin said. But, “we’re less legislatively encumbered. The conversation is taking place at the table here and then we don’t have to have a conversation in Madison or anywhere else, as long as we meet the rigors of our creditors. We can be nimble. We can think outside the box … and the staff has the level of ingenuity to make things happen here. 

The thing that keeps MIAD fresh is that we’re left to solve all our own problems.”

MIAD recently won a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand its internships, which are at the heart of its programs, particularly in industrial design. Sometimes partnering with engineering students at Marquette University, MIAD students work on design challenges presented by real companies, including such heavy weights as GE, General Motors and Harley-Davidson. The results of some of those challenges are scattered throughout the building — everything from airplane toilets to football helmets to motorcycle designs. The right design can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful product, even when the basic engineering is the same, Morin said. Think of Steve Jobs and the iPhone.

The institute highly recommends internships before graduation. “With design challenges (students) get “great experience, a great design portfolio and a great knowledge of the area they’re entering,” Morin said.

In addition to MIAD’s partnerships with Marquette University and dozens of well known national and local corporations, from Delta Airlines to Kohler, US Bank to Manpower, the school is developing relationships with Milwaukee Public Schools for design academies for pre-college students. The goal is to give them experience working in the field before they commit to it academically.

Ultimate goal

Morin grew up in northernmost Maine’s Arroostook County, considered one of the poorest counties east of the Mississippi, he said. The county is vast in area but sparsely populated. His description made it sound as if everyone is so isolated that each family needs a different ZIP code.

At an early age of his rural childhood, Morin figured out he wanted to be a teacher and an artist — even though “there’s nothing in our family’s history that points in that direction,” he said.

But it might never have happened without a teacher who recognized his talent and mentored him through high school. When it came time to look for colleges, she drove him about 15 hours in her pickup truck to look over the Rhode Island School of Design.

But Morin wound up at Temple University Tyler School of Art because it was his mentor’s ideal art school.

“If it wasn’t for her, I know that I would have had a totally different life,” Morin said. Now Morin’s ultimate goal is to make the kind of difference in his students’ lives that his greatest mentor made in his. He’s been teaching since 1986 and he hears back from students on a regular basis, he said. That’s encouraging.

“But I wouldn’t have the arrogance to assume I could provide that level of influence,” he added. “I don’t think I could be as generous as she was.”

He’s still trying, however. And, luckily for MIAD, he’s brought that experience and that goal with him.

Milwaukee Art New-seum | MAM reinvents with a lakefront entrance and a dynamic new plan for galleries

Most museum renovations wouldn’t be undertaken the way the Milwaukee Art Museum’s has been — closing everything but the special collections gallery in the Quadracci Pavilion to the public for a year.

More common, says chief curator Brady Roberts, is for a museum to close sections of a permanent collection a bit at a time and revealing each revision as it’s completed. “It’s hard to tell what’s changed,” he says. “and it’s not very dramatic.”

MAM’s big reveal, on the other hand, brings new meaning to the word “dramatic.” The museum that reopens its doors on Nov. 24 will be completely different from the one that closed last November, thanks to an expansion and reinstallation that will add a new lakefront entrance and 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, filled with 2,500 works of art — a thousand more than the museum has ever been able to display. 

In many ways, Roberts says, the renovation, spearheaded by museum director Dan Keegan, was as much a matter of practical need as artistic innovation. The Milwaukee Art Museum is a multi-building complex, with this lakeside addition (informally dubbed the “East End” by curators) joining the War Memorial Center, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1957; a 1975 expansion, designed by David Kahler; and the iconic Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The older buildings were in dire need of repair, with severe structural issues, including a leaky roof and a failing HVAC system. “It was really putting the collections at risk,” Roberts says. “Water and moldy air and art don’t mix.”

But those practical concerns gave Roberts and his curators an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the entire museum. Judging the museum’s original floorplan a “maze” even veteran curators had been known to get lost in, Roberts says his team wiped the slate clean, redrawing the museum’s boundaries to find the best place for every gallery. “Say there are no walls, that you just have a blank canvas. How would you build the walls to best show the art?” Roberts asks.

For the first time, that question has different answers for each gallery. Previously, MAM’s galleries were largely uniform, with simple brown-gray walls. Now, each curator has been allowed to design galleries that best fit the art within. In addition, the Saarenin building has been restored to better resemble its original design, and elements of Kahler’s expansion now accent certain galleries.

The expansion also has given the museum the ability to create two new galleries. The 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries, arranged by MAM’s newest curator Monica Obniski, give the museum’s expansive collection of industrial design objects their own space for the first time, and Roberts says Obniski is using her new space to acquire works that push the collection closer and closer to our present day. “We’re surrounded by design objects,” he says. “You can be surrounded by beautiful design every day of your life, if you think about it.”

Also exciting is the new Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, located on the lower level of the museum. When the collections closed last year, Roberts says the museum’s photography gallery had been diminished to a wall that held about five photographs — an alarming lapse even before you know that MAM was one of the earliest museums to collect photography, with MOMA as its only real predecessor.

The Herzfeld Center, curated by Lisa Sutcliffe, is finally a space worthy of MAM’s collection. The word “photography” literally means “writing with light,” and Roberts says Sutcliffe and the museum have taken that as inspiration, including light and video installations along with print photography, making the gallery a national destination in the process. “In 200 years,” Roberts says, “when people look back at the 21st century, this will be the century of photo-based media.” 

Roberts says the renovation also fixes a persistent problem for the museum: the lack of an additional special exhibition space. While the Baker-Rowland Gallery in the Quadracci Pavilion (currently home to the museum’s Larry Sultan retrospective) is the main driver for museum attendance, it has to close for a month every time MAM swaps exhibitions, adding up to a full quarter of the year. With the new Bradley Family Gallery, on the second floor of the East End, that lost time vanishes. Starting with the new gallery’s first show — the unveiling of recently acquired works by abstract expressionist printmaker Sam Francis — there will never be a period in which both special exhibition spaces are closed.

And the rest of the museum will be more dynamic — with this version of the “permanent” collection being the least-permanent it’s ever been. Roberts says curators plan to rotate works in and out of galleries on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to see in addition to the old favorites — as if people needed a better excuse to return over and over again.

The Milwaukee Art Museum will unveil its renovated galleries at a grand opening on Nov. 24, with members-only previews the weekend before. For more information, visit mam.org.

To get a better sense of what’s in store in the redesigned galleries, WiG spoke to the museum’s curatorial team, responsible for reshaping the floor plan for its six major gallery collections. Read on for more details.

Brady Roberts | Modern & Contemporary Art Galleries

Goals for the galleries’ expansion: “For the Modern and Contemporary collections we created soaring, white cube spaces that serve as neutral platforms to emphasize the works of art. The floorplan is clear and logical, allowing for intuitive navigation through the galleries.”

Design of the new gallery space: The Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries include a series of halls filled with works by major artists of the 20th and 21st century, as well as a sculpture gallery overlooking Lake Michigan. Roberts says the spaces feature ceilings more than 17 feet high, better suited for the monumental works within. Also, the sculpture gallery exposes the original concrete columns designed in the 1970s Brutalist style by David Kahler, architect of the museum’s 1975 expansion. The Bradley Galleries also include new special exhibition space.

High-profile works to look for: MAM owns three sculptures by Donald Judd, considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, but has never been able to put them together. “To be able to present these three sculptures in one gallery where they all have their breathing room is something that any modern art museum would be envious of,” Roberts says. Other significant works include Eva Hesse’s fiberglass sculpture “Right After,” a rare example of her work that has not deteriorated due to its fragile materials.

Brandon Ruud | Constance & Dudley Godfrey American Art Wing

Goals for the gallery’s expansion: “I was particularly excited about creating a space that not only showcased the beauty and power of the Museum’s important American art collections in all its forms — decorative arts, paintings and sculpture — but one that allowed us to reveal the full, rich history of the nation’s arts and crafts.”

Design of the new gallery space: The new American wing at MAM will feature paintings and decorative art objects — including the collection curated by the Chipstone Foundation. Ruud says he considers the museum’s collection of 17th- to 19th-century decorative art to be one of its greatest strengths and the new gallery space was designed to include decorative art in vignettes that suggest how they were used during their time periods. “These spaces range from airy, grand galleries where visitors will hopefully have a ‘Wow!’ moment, to more intimate spaces that allow for intense examination and viewing,” he says.

High-profile works to look for: Ruud says the expansion has motivated new acquisitions and donations, including a rare canvas by 18th-century painter Jeremiah Paul and a Long Island scene by Thomas Moran. In addition to John Singleton Copley’s better-known portrait “Alice Hooper,” Ruud recommends patrons check out a pair of Copley portraits that haven’t been presented in the United States since they were painted more than 250 years ago.

Monica Obniski | 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries

Goals for the new galleries: “This is the first time the design collection will have dedicated space within the museum, so my goal is to display a diversity of works within thought-provoking vignettes. … I am really excited about building a contemporary design collection that makes sense for MAM.”

Design of the new gallery space: One of the two new spaces in MAM’s addition, the design galleries bring the museum’s decorative artworks to a prominent position near the new lakeside entrance. Obniski says the space is designed so a viewer traveling around the periphery can get a loosely chronological survey of design from about 1900 to the 1960s, but also can dig deeper, exploring the interplay of dichotomies — beauty and functionality or art and technology.

High-profile works to look for: Since the design galleries are new, Obniski is excited to display works that were tucked away in the archives, like experimental furnituremaker Mathias Bengtsson’s “Slice Chair.” She’s also pursuing new works to add to the collection, including MAM’s first 3-D printed chair (arrival TBD). And you won’t be able to miss the “chair wall” — a display of chairs from the 20th century hung along an exposed concrete wall.

Margaret Andera | Folk and Self-Taught Art Gallery, Haitian Art Gallery

Goals for the galleries’ expansion: “Both the Haitian art and the folk and self-taught art were in parts of the building that didn’t make as much chronological sense for the collections. The collections now are adjacent to contemporary and modern art, exactly where they fit into the chronology.” 

Design of the new gallery space: Before the renovation, the mezzanine level of MAM wasn’t used for gallery space, so Andera says it may surprise regular attendees when they see it for the first time. To convert a former study center into the folk and Haitian galleries, the museum knocked down walls and doors, dramatically opening up the space. “It’s now this one, contiguous gallery space and I think it’s one of the most transformed spaces in the whole re-installation,” Andera says. That also allowed the museum to open up a balcony overlooking the first floor, allowing patrons to see into the sculpture gallery from the mezzanine.

High-profile works to look for: Andera says the museum’s “Newsboy” sculpture has long been used as visual shorthand for the folk and self-taught galleries, and its new placement will allow patrons to see it from multiple angles for the first time. She’s also excited that the museum will be able to exhibit a banner by Milwaukee self-taught artist Josephus Farmer — previously too damaged to present to the general public but restored by the museum’s conservators for the reopening.

Tanya Paul | Antiquities and European Galleries

Goals for the galleries’ expansion: “My goal was twofold. On one hand, I wanted to respond to and better highlight the strengths of our collection — in particular its uniquely broad, pan-European perspective with distinctive strengths in German art. On the other hand, I also wanted to fully integrate our collections of fine and decorative European art.”

Design of the new gallery space: The two-floor galleries, twice the size of the original space, will interconnect MAM’s collection of European paintings and prints and its European antiquities collection. Paul says the spaces will “blend into one another, resulting in a complex portrait of European art and its interrelatedness.” The museum’s salon-style room for the Layton Art Collection will return, presenting works from the collection as they would have been in a late-19th/early 20th-century gallery.

High-profile works to look for: Viewers should look forward to once again seeing the museum’s arresting “Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb,” by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán, along with other recognizable works like Jules Bastien-Lepage’s “Woodgatherer” and the museum’s Monet painting. Paul also recommends keeping an eye out for a monumental decorative vase by Barbedienne and new acquisitions from French portrait painter Alexandre Cabanel.

Lisa Sutcliffe | Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts

Goals for the new gallery: “The photography collection has never had dedicated galleries at this scale before and it is exciting to show the work in the broader context of light-based media including video, film and digital media. The first show celebrates our collection highlights and gives the community a chance to get to know our photography collection, which hasn’t been shown together for 25 years.

Design of the new gallery space: The other new space in MAM’s addition takes over the lower level of the museum, providing Sutcliffe with a light-controlled space to work in. Sutcliffe says exhibitions will rotate on a shorter cycle (3 to 4 months) to offer an evolving selection and help preserve the light-sensitive photographs. 

High-profile works to look for: Sutcliffe is well aware that there’s an excitement among patrons-in-the-know about the return of Stanley Landsman’s Walk-In Infinity Chamber, which uses two-way mirrors and light bulbs to create a unique, near-magical space. But she’s also excited for them to get to know Anthony McCall’s “You and I Horizontal, II,” a participatory light installation that digitally recreates a solid light film from the 1970s. MAM will also be installing its earliest photographic acquisition, Edward Weston’s “Bad Water, Death Valley.” 

Donald Trump suggests maybe boycotting Starbucks over red cup design

Donald Trump is suggesting boycotting Starbucks over the minimalist design of its annual holiday cups.

“Did you read about Starbucks? No more Merry Christmas on Starbucks,” Trump told a capacity crowd of thousands gathered to hear him speak at a pre-debate rally in Springfield, Illinois on Nov. 9.

“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know,” he said. “Seriously, I don’t care.”

Some religious conservatives have expressed anger over the coffee company’s annual holiday-time cups – a minimalist all-red design with no images aside from the company’s green and white logo.

Previous years’ cups have featured snowflakes, winter scenes and sometimes Christmas ornaments. But a small number of critics see the design choice as part of a larger movement away from exclusively Christian-themed holiday decorations.

Trump, who is working to win the support of evangelical and other conservative Christians in a crowded field, has often expressed frustrations over companies using the term “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas.”

He said:”If I become president, we’re all going to be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again. That I can tell you.”

He added that Starbucks operates a store in one of his buildings and that “that’s the end of that lease, but who cares?”

The rally came on the eve of the next Republican presidential debate, which will be taking place on Nov. 10 in Milwaukee.

Brian Oaks, general manager of the Prairie Capital Convention Center, said the billionaire businessman and reality television star had attracted a record-setting crowd for the convention center of 10,200 in downtown Springfield, a solidly Republican city in a Democratic-leaning state.

Trump did not mention the debate during his rally speech, but previewed some of the attack lines he may choose to use against rivals, including retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is now running neck-and-neck with him in several polls.

Trump expressed near-exasperation at Carson’s continued popularity in the face of growing questions about discrepancies in his autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” which included claims that he tried to hit his mother with a hammer and unsuccessfully tried to stab someone when he was an angry youth.

“With what’s going on with this election? I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Trump. He went on to mimic the back-and-forth between Carson and reporters trying to verify the story of his rise from poverty to acclaimed surgeon, including a claim by Carson that the person he’d tried to stab had been saved by his belt buckle.

“You stab somebody and the newspapers say, ‘You didn’t do it.’ And you said, ‘Yes I did, I did it!'” said Trump.

“This is the only election in history where you’re better off if you stabbed somebody,” he said. “What are we coming to?”

Fall 2015 decor is all about mixing it up

If you’re looking to update your home decor this fall, you’ll find new furniture profiles, accents and textures galore, in everything from rugs to wall coverings to ceramics and bedding.

The trend toward mixing things up continues, from rustic to contemporary with a dash of traditional.

“What’s interesting is the warm breath of traditional style that infuses the season’s midcentury influence: Furniture, textiles and accessories, no matter how sleek-lined, are warm, inviting and touchable,” says New York designer Elaine Griffin.

Also coming on is the handmade or “collected” vibe.

“Our desire for authenticity, as well as for finely crafted and small production design, is resonating,” says Jackie Jordan, color marketing director for the paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams. “We want to know whose hands actually created the object we’re purchasing, and how and where the materials were sourced.”

Griffin concurs: “This season, the handmade look reigns supreme, with highly-textured fabric weaves, wallpapers (faux bois, faux hand-painted murals, and multicolored and metallic-layered geometric prints) and appliqued effects on upholstery.”

Expect more tabletop accent pieces and furniture labeled with place of origin and/or maker’s information, whether they were crafted in Indiana or India.

One new kid in town is Scandinavian style. Simple, clean lines, gentle colors and charming motifs make for a look that’s contemporary and accessible.

And the dark horse? With the popularity of midcentury modern, some designers are ready to move forward to a 1980s redux. Decorators have welcomed ‘60s- and ‘70s-era macrame, flame stitch, classic furniture and retro fabric prints. Will they also embrace Memphis style — the ‘80s design movement characterized by disparate geometric shapes and contrasting colors? Griffin thinks there’ll be more to this trend come spring.


Jordan sees a shift “to soft monochromatic palettes,” citing creamy whites and mineral tones — gray, khaki, earth tones, and nature-inspired hues like spruce, smoke, pond and shell pink.

“The serenity of these colors provides a sense of calm to balance our hectic lifestyles, and celebrates natural materials, honed, soft and sheer finishes,” she says.

Stronger hues are in play, too. Griffin sees last spring’s pale pastels evolving into deeper, Southwestern hues like terracotta, pale pumpkin, deep salmon, dusty rose citron, and smoky French and teal blues.

Look too for boozy, midcentury-modern hues: brandy, burgundy, whiskey and merlot, as well as navy and olive.


Again, it’s all about the mix. “For both furniture and accessories, when it comes to finishes this fall, one is a lonely number,” Griffin says. “The freshest looks combine at least two colors and materials, like black lacquer with metallic accents (especially brass and copper); white enamel with gleaming metallic, acrylic pieces in harvest hues; and industrial iron paired with chrome.”

Patinated and polished brass, marble, copper, steel and mirror clad everything from accent pieces to furniture. See West Elm, Wisteria and CB2 for examples.

While silver and chrome are big players, Michael Murphy, design and trends producer for Lamps Plus, says brass and gold will be especially strong, especially in softer, burnished tones.

“These metals can be easily introduced in the home with a table lamp, chandelier or distinct accessory like a large vase or unique table sculpture,’’ he says.

Jordan says the handmade look extends to metals: “We’re seeing materials hand-carved, forged and assembled. Imperfections and flaws in materials like iron, wood, concrete and hand-woven wool only add to the character of the piece.”

One interesting place to see this trend is the bathroom: vintage-style, weathered-bronze and cast-iron fixtures. Stone Forest introduced the Ore vessel sink, inspired by an antique steel pipe cap. The Industrial series, with a cast-iron sink, towel bar and paper holder, has an old-school factory quality.

Interesting woods continue to make inroads in furniture, flooring and doors. Watch for acacia, walnut, birch, maple and beech, and finishes ranging from weatherworn to highly lacquered.

Pottery Barn’s new Bowry collection of tables and storage units uses reclaimed acacia, teak and mango hardwoods. The Warren pulley lamp’s rustic-finished iron and functioning pulleys make for a steampunk-style fixture.

Konekt designer Helena Sultan’s Pause chaise lounge perches a comfy upholstered seat on brass or chrome legs, in several finishes.

And saddle and butter-soft leathers are strong players in ottomans, director’s and club chairs, and benches.

The flip side is the proliferation of translucents like acrylic and glass, often combined with other materials.

“These materials are being combined with unique fabrics like fur to create a clearly contemporary trend,” says Murphy. “We see this where the tops of settees, benches and stools are covered with a luxe fur and fabrics, and the legs are made from clear materials.”

Jonathan Adler has a Lucite etagere with polished brass joinery, and a burled wood desk on Lucite legs. Gus Modern’s acrylic end table is etched with a white grain pattern to look like a piece of timber.


Channel quilting, in which stitching runs in one continuous line, is another trend to watch for. The straight lines, even spacing, design detail and comfort all add to its appeal. “This is part of the continued resurgence of Art Deco, which is synonymous with fluid lines, bold shapes, lavish ornamentation and metallic finishes,” says Murphy.

Look for rattan and other woven fibers in items beyond basketry, like wall art, bowls and ottomans.

Shags, nubby wools, Southwest-patterned flat weaves and Impressionist-patterned Indian silks will be on the floor of rug departments this fall. West Elm has some graphic kilim rugs and pillows.

Geometrics and facets cover textiles, vases and mirror frames. Some have an organic quality — think beehives or reptile skin. But rendered in iron or wood, they can have an industrial vibe.

In wallpaper, look to Tempaper, Wolfum and Timorous Beasties for intriguing patterns ranging from ‘80s Southwest to Japanese archival prints to nature themes.