June 1, 2013
By Jennifer Kresse
Bay View native, Humboldt Park School alum, and UWM student Michael Viers (VY-ers) can add 2013 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner to his resume.
In response to the prompting of the film’s producer Gregory Bishop, 21-year-old Viers’ submitted his short horror film From the Darkness Theater. To his astonishment, it was selected. The fictional film is a glimpse into the private life of Uncle Seymour Cadavers, a local television horror show host.
Organized by the Cannes Film Festival, the Short Film Corner was designed to aid emerging filmmakers by providing a stage to showcase film shorts. Bishop attended the 2012 Cannes festival and felt that Viers’ film had a good shot.
Mary Viers said her son Michael has always been artistic and creative, but it wasn’t until junior high or high school that he developed an interest in filmmaking. Viers began making movies in high school (Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory) where he started a film club with some friends.
Viers said watching the special features section of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds DVD made a big impact on him. He said he turned to his mother and said, “This looks fun. I think I can do that.”
Another influence was John Carpenter’s Halloween and seeing it was pivotal. Viers said it is his favorite film, though he is also a fan of Brian De Palma, among others. The horror genre has become his métier. “I guess I want to make something that gives others the same reaction [Halloween] gave me.
Although he was accepted by Columbia College, both the Los Angeles and Chicago schools, and by the Vancouver Film School, Viers said they were too expensive despite scholarships he was offered. Instead he chose UW-Milwaukee and hasn’t looked back. “UWM teaches its students to get a camera and be creative… We’re taught how to explore themes and to tell stories in new and creative ways. Some other film schools may pump out ‘machines’ that can shoot very well, but how are their storytelling abilities? I feel that’s where we UWM students excel: creativity, storytelling prowess, and ingenuity,” he said.
Mary Viers had concerns about her son choosing to major in filmmaking. “At first I was not happy about it… I worried he may be picking a field that would make it difficult to make a living,” she said. “But I know how much of a passion he has for it, so I finally said, ‘If it makes you happy, do it.’”
She watched Viers work on From the Darkness Theater through all its stages and was consulted by her son during production. “Mom was my biggest support structure,” Michael said. “She read most of my scripts, gave me her advice, and watched every cut… She is one of my greatest collaborators. Plus, she used to star in [my films].”
Viers joked that his ultimate goal as a filmmaker is “not to starve,“ and he plans to continue to write and direct, but said that making a living editing films would agreeable. “There [are] options and ways to support oneself through filmmaking. It may not be making huge Hollywood blockbusters, but there’s money to be made,” he said.
When Viers learned he was selected for the short corner at Cannes, he said, “I was in completed disbelief.” His mother hugged him and cried when he told her the news. “I was so proud of him. It was bittersweet. We lost my husband, Michael’s dad, just a year ago and I wish he could be here for this,” she said.
Selection was only half the battle. Viers wanted to attend the festival. “I told him he absolutely had to go. We would find a way to afford it,” Mary Viers said.
Cindy Flechner, who works at Humboldt Park School’s Community Learning Center, collected about $230 from HPS teachers and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. Viers attended HPS from K4 through Grade 8 and is currently employed in their CLC program. Part of the donation was used to rent a tuxedo.
The generosity of the people at his alma mater touched Viers. “It’s, for lack of a stronger word, amazing,” he said. “I loved [attending HPS] because it had a strong teaching staff and a community I feel other schools lack. You felt special for going to HPS.”
That feeling extends to his south side community. A habitué of the cafes and theaters on Kinnickinnic, Viers’ heart is in Bay View. “We treat each other like a large family. I’ve had so much help from local businesses during my career as a filmmaker. It’s home.”
June 1, 2013
By Katherine Keller
Fire rapidly swept through the second story of a beloved neighborhood icon May 11. The gabled two-story building, 2547 S. Burrell St., on the southeast corner of Burrell and Clifford streets was once Mattuschek’s Grocery.
Neighbors reported seeing smoke and flames from the second story windows around 11pm. One of the neighbors who was driving past when he saw flames, entered the building to warn its inhabitants.
Jay and Sandy Palokonis, who live a few doors south on Burrell, said that property owner Kirk Jung was downstairs talking to a couple of musicians when the fire erupted.
Jung, who has resided on the second floor for about 20 years, rents three studio/rehearsal spaces on the first floor to local musicians.
Nick Woods said he and his fellow band members who rented space in the building, estimate they lost between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of equipment. Woods a member of two bands, Direct Hit and Galactic Cannibal, said the losses would have been greater if he and Galactic Cannibal band members had not been playing in Madison the night of the fire. He said that drummers Danny Walkowiak and Ryan Bollis together lost about “two and a half” drum sets. Also lost were two PAs (public announcement systems) and electronics equipment.
Woods said his ’72 Fender Telecaster reissue guitar was salvaged by a friend of his who pulled it from the debris. He said that the guitar is in poor condition but playable.
Two more musicians arrived May 15 and recovered some of their equipment, Jay Palokonis said.
Woods said he and his band members are still in the process of determining the extent of their equipment that was lost or damaged by fire or water. None of the musicians, except Woods, had renters insurance but his losses were not covered because his insurer deemed his equipment as business rather than personal property.
Woods began renting the rehearsal space in January of this year. “It was one of the better practice spaces we rented. It was a decent space. We got along with the landlord, it was affordable. We got bang for our buck,” he said.
The owner’s brother “Doc” Jung, who resided with Kirk on the second floor, initially said he thought the building was covered by a fire insurance policy and that he hoped to restore the building. However, he later told neighbors he talked to his brother and said that the insurance policy may have lapsed. His brother, property owner Kirk Jung, was not available for comment. Doc Jung said that his brother has a mental illness and was admitted to the county hospital for a short period after the fire.
The building was assessed at $89,200 prior to the fire.
Historic Building Housed Saloon and Grocery Store
The permit to construct this building was taken out October 4, 1898 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.
Carlen Hatala of the city of Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission said that Richard V. Mattuschek operated a saloon and grocery on the first floor of the premises and lived upstairs starting in 1901. (He may have been in residence in 1900 but the city directory for that year is missing.) Prior to 1901, Mattuschek was listed as “superintendent” in a building located on Ninth Street between Michigan and Wisconsin avenues.
Hatala said that Mattuschek might have originally leased the building from Schlitz and that later he may have purchased the building during Prohibition when the breweries were mandated to sell off their real estate. Alternatively, he may have purchased the building when it was first completed.
City permit records indicate the building was used as a tavern and grocery store (Mattuschek’s Grocery) as late as 1972. Hatala found an annotation on the 1972 occupancy permit stating that the grocery store was in the family continuously for 70 years. Daniel Hornak is shown as the owner in 1975 and it was he who replaced first floor windows with concrete blocks. Kirk A. Jung is shown as the owner beginning in 1993.
Hatala attributed the building’s preservation to the long owner-occupancy of the Mattuschek family.
Remnants of the store’s sign, painted on the brick wall, can be seen on the north façade.
June 1, 2013
By Jill Rothenbueler Maher
June 12 is the last day of school for most Milwaukee Public Schools, and countless kids and parents are thinking about how routines will change the following day. I know I have been asked about our summer plans in dozens of conversations. Many of you have probably been in similar conversations.
The truth is, summer does not change my family’s routines that much. If past years are any indication, our 5-year-old daughter will not sleep later, partly out of habit and partly because she still has to be at day care at 8am most days. My husband and I do not change our work schedules in summer, so we drop her off before heading to work three days each week. The other two days, I stay home with her but the two of us still wake and eat breakfast with my husband.
In the most extreme cases, summer means separation for families. Some parents send their children to sleepaway camp, but I have mainly heard of that from East Coasters.
We in Milwaukee seem to stick with our kids versus sending them away, and we appear more laid back than even my friends in the nearby suburbs. Some of those buddies spend of lot of time making plans about the day camps their kids will attend. They may be separated during the day with kids at day camp and parents at work, but they spend evenings together.
I am proud of Milwaukee when I tell long-distance friends about our summer scene, especially the family-friendly aspects. Arrangements can certainly be complicated, particularly when shared custody, half-siblings, and grandparents are involved, but many families enjoy the break from the school routine. Milwaukeeans have a good selection of splash pools in our county parks to take their children to on summer days. Daycare centers make park outings, too. Bigger kids get to try out the larger pools and maybe even a water park. We use the parks for bicycle rides and evening concerts. The adults and children bump into one another at the South Shore Farmers Market. None of these requires special registration and if it isn’t free, it’s priced so that it won’t break a budget.
My family will venture beyond Milwaukee a few times for some camping and travel, but the rest of the time should just be fun. I didn’t go crazy planning a list of to-dos or goals, but our daughter and I did set one goal: take 60 bike rides together before October.
I am going to strive to cherish the time. If I mentally fast-forward several years, I picture our daughter with more commitments like sports or other activities. And, well, I envision that my husband and I will become too uncool to hang out with.
After our lousy spring weather, the summer of 2013 seems like a great time to enjoy the neighborhood and perhaps even get a little bored.
The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at email@example.com.
May 1, 2013
By Kevin Meagher
Over the past few years the fate of the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge was uncertain. But according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the bridge should be around for 40-50 more years due to allocations for state road construction projects in Governor Walker’s 2013 budget. Construction is set to begin this fall.
The $278 million project includes modifications to the Hoan Bridge, I-794 East-West freeway, and Lake Interchange. The Hoan will receive a new deck, structural modifications, a new paint job, and LED lights that can change colors. Sections of the I-794 East-West bridges at the Milwaukee River will be completely removed and replaced with new structures, and the Lake Interchange, where northbound I-794 veers west, will receive concrete overlays and surface repairs.
A construction company has not yet been selected for the repairs, but the contract will be awarded by Aug. 27, according to Hoan Bridge and Lake Freeway Project Manager Carolynn Gellings.
The project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2016 and will be separated into three phases so that access between downtown and Bay View will be available at all times. Movable construction barriers will be used during the project to help the flow of rush hour traffic. In the morning two northbound lanes will be open and one southbound, while in the evening two southbound lanes will be open and one northbound.
A shared-use bike path, which was in consideration as an addition to the bridge, was nixed in December 2011 “due to the cost and impacts to traffic operations of the various alternatives,” Gellings said.
In a study conducted by the Wisconsin DOT in accordance with the Federal Highway Administration, the feasibility of the shared-use (pedestrian and bike) lane was evaluated. The study presented four conceptions of options for the shared-use lane, but all were eventually turned down due to issues with safety, functionality, or cost.
The concepts to incorporate the shared-use lane included widening the bridge to add the lane; replacing an existing traffic lane; adding an elevated lane; or constructing a separate structure adjacent to the bridge. The estimated costs of these ideas were $9.4 million, $76.4 million, $95.5 million and $84.4 million respectively.
District 8 County Board Supervisor Patricia Jursik, an advocate of the Hoan Bridge and supporter of the pedestrian and bike lane, said the DOT could have done more. “I feel there is a middle option that would allow a bike lane to be built off the existing structure. I sometimes suggest imagining a drop bridge from a castle wall and transfer that thought to the great arch of the Hoan… I have talked to engineers that tell me this could be done. I think it would be far less expensive than [building a separate bridge],” Jursik said.
The DOT’s Hoan renovation process includes public input. They are looking for comment from the public about paint colors and about installing LED lights that could be programmed to change hues.
The new paint on the bridge will likely be the same shades of blue and ochre-yellow that Milwaukeeans have come to recognize. “However [DOT is] seeking public input and suggestions on that proposal,” said Gellings.
Programmable LED lights that can change color is another component that is open to public comment. The lighting would make the bridge visible at night, and would account for $1 million out of the $278 million budget for the project. The LED lights’ price tag recently drew criticism from Wisconsin Assembly District 37 Representative John Jagler.
In a press release, Jagler bashed the proposal. “The funding for the lights is nearly identical to the amount needed for the project on Highway 16, which has now been delayed a year. Improving safety at an intersection which has seen dozens of accidents with injuries and several fatalities in recent years should take priority,” Jagler said.
Highway 16 in Jefferson County is in Jagler’s district. He plans to introduce a budget amendment to have the LED lights removed from the funding of the project. Representative Christine Sinicki, whose Wisconsin Assembly District 20 includes parts of southeast Milwaukee, St. Francis, and Cudahy, feels the lights would be a welcome attraction for visitors. “Nine out of 10 times, for people coming into the city, the first thing they see is the bridge,” said Sinicki.
Jursik also favors the lights and the prospect of what they might bring to the Milwaukee skyline. “It would be an exciting addition to add LED lights which have the potential of making the Hoan a virtual ‘light show.’ Imagine being at Summerfest and experiencing this lighted bridge. It makes sense to do this during construction. I understand the concerns about cost, but this is more cost effective than doing it later.” Jursik said.
Lights or no lights, the Hoan will be getting some much needed repair work in the next three years, which could potentially extend its life for another half century.
May 1, 2013
By Kevin Meagher
Imagine the reality TV show Survivor without the staged competition, backstabbing, petty drama, and exotic locales.
Imagine instead a group of people who choose to immerse themselves in the wilderness of Northern Wisconsin for 11 months where they learn to survive using old native ways. They learn to build shelters with plant materials, to hunt and fish and forage, to find water, to make clothing from animal skins, to cook over a fire with no pots or pans, to identify and use herbs to dress wounds or cure cramps, and to stay clean and healthy living outdoors through four seasons.
Those who enroll in the Teaching Drum School’s Wilderness Guide Program learn to live off the land and survive in the wilderness. They also learn to communicate and cooperate and to navigate the social dynamics of group-living in extreme conditions.
The Teaching Drum Outdoor School is located in Three Lakes, Wis. and was founded in 1987 by Tamarack Song. The school began as a summer-only program, offering classes in edible and medicinal plants, week-long canoe trips, and birch-bark canoe building.
The program expanded over the past three decades and the school now offers an 11-month wilderness immersion course on the its 80-acre preserve adjacent to the Headwaters Wilderness in the Nicolet National Forest. The site of the program is named Nishnajida, which is Ojibwe for “camp where the old way returns.” It is located on a small lake seven miles from the main campus.
Despite a curriculum that teaches the ancient way, the school operates as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation and charges a very 21st century $10,200 tuition fee for the program.
- Being there
The program gives participants the opportunity to experience living almost entirely off the resources of the land. They are guided through the processes of building their own shelters, building fires, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Modern technology is left behind, although once a month the participants may elect to walk back to the main campus to use phones, the internet, and to pick-up mail, but beyond that, the sun and moon are their clocks, arms and fingers are measuring sticks, and the social network is confined to the members of the group.
This simple lifestyle is what attracted Riverwest resident Sarah Moore to the program. (Moore attended Bay View High School in ninth grade.)
“I was never really big into camping. I was never the one to say, let’s go hiking or camping.,” Moore said.
Moore brought her two children, 5-year-old Gio and 12-year-old Andre with her when she began the program on May 1, 2012. After the first two months, only Gio was still with her. It was not because Andre was voted out of the group or because he couldn’t pull his own weight, but because he needed more structure than the program offered. He chose to return to the city and his father.
Program participants are not thrown to the wolves, though. The immersion process is a gradual one. Moore and her 42 fellow participants were provided tents and tarps for the first few months and given food via daily drops from the main camp.
In the late summer months, the group learned to make wigwams with grass and birch bark. When they completed these structures, they abandoned the tents and tarps and lived strictly within their natural shelters for the rest of the program. The shelters grew progressively more complex as the group moved through the fall and winter. The wigwams were given more layers and fitted with primitive indoor heating.
“The winter lodges were [built on] the same frame as the summer ones, with maple poles, then bark over that, then peat over that. Then there is a hole in the middle [of the roof] and a hearth that goes down in a cone shape [that connects to] a tunnel that goes outside the lodge so that fresh air is drawn in and feeds the fire, and smoke escapes out of the top,” Moore said.
In the deep winter, the members of the group built and moved into snow lodges, which are no more than a mound of snow that accommodates a sleeping chamber. To construct the snow lodge, the participants piled a huge mound of snow in the shade of trees, then put branches over the pile, then put another layer of snow over the branches, and finally carved out the core for a sleeping chamber. Moore said she was able to sleep in one of these shelters with her son for most of the winter.
“These were generally warmer than the bark lodges, because you could block the door at the bottom, but leave a little air hole at the top. What I actually had to worry about was that the lodge would get over 32 degrees and melt,” she said.
Fortunately Moore’s snow lodge didn’t melt. In the winter she slept in a thick sleeping bag with lambskin and wool blankets. Sometimes she stashed all the clothing she needed for the next day inside her sleeping bag so it would be warm in the morning and she could get dressed without leaving the coziness of the sleeping bag. After dressing, she said she hoped she would find that someone had already built a campfire; if not she ran to stay warm or gathered firewood.
Even simple conveniences like matches were off limits to members of the group. To make a morning fire they would either use coals from the previous night’s fire or start a new one, practicing their bow-drill skills.
Matches were not the only things the group was denied. The learning-by-deprivation method was encouraged in other areas of the program as well. The group learned to do all their cooking over a fire after weaning themselves off of pots and pans early on. And while they did received daily food drops, the instructors controlled the nature of the food they provided.
For example, the instructors cut back on specific types of food for weeks at a time. When they cut back on fruit, Moore and the group foraged and ate wild berries. When cut back on greens, they ate milkweed and linden leaf, and when cut back on protein, the group went fishing.
At times, they were forced to get creative with their food supply. “We learned a lot about eating. I ate bugs and frogs. I ate mice, squirrel, and rabbit… One of my favorites was ants. You would take a leaf and put it on the ant’s hill, and they would crawl all over it, and you would try to mush the ants, and try to get as many in your mouth [as possible] before they nipped you,” said Moore.
Gio was equally as experimental with food, sampling frog and ants. Participants’ weight and body fat were monitored every month to ensure they were eating enough. Moore dropped a significant amount of weight and was instructed not to rely solely on foraged food, but to supplement it each day with the dropped food.
As a precaution, all food was kept outside of the wigwams to prevent animals from wandering in. The group did not encounter predatory animals so were never on the wrong side of the food chain. Moore said that they never saw wolf or bear tracks near the camp, but they occasionally saw bobcat tracks.
Predators aside, the group faced its share of danger. “We did have someone fall out of a tree and then they wouldn’t let us climb trees for a long time… For me, I battled a lot in the early winter with cold toes and frostbite and had to be really conscious of keeping my feet warm,” said Moore.
A deeper philosophy
One of the goals Moore set out to accomplish during her experience was learning about conflict resolution. While the group got along fairly well throughout the year, there was tension at times, she said. At one point in winter, the group was looking for a new site to build a snow lodge. They initially found a site that near the current camp, which Moore favored because she had been having knee problems.
Later other group members decided to move to a site that was an hour’s walk away. Moore had no choice but to go with the group’s decision.
Moore said her initial response was feeling victimized when she had been unable to convince the group not to move to the distant site.
Yet she needed the safety of the group and had to learn to respond to her disappointment differently. “I realized the real gift is to say ‘Okay, that’s what I got and accept it.’”
Reflecting on the decision to move the site of the snow lodge, Moore said, “I ended up having a great time and part of the reason was my son. I saw him helping out, and having a good time, and [getting] ready to go, and I knew I just needed to switch gears and go for it.”
Observing her son’s willingness to help move to the new site and his enjoyment of the activity inspired Moore, she said. She learned to accept things for what they were—a simple lesson, profound and easily overlooked. After she returned to Milwaukee and began to digest her experience, Moore found herself applying this lesson to modern life.
“I think most of us, including myself, struggle with trusting that the world will take care of us and the future will be okay,” said Moore. “There’s so much fear… I think I gained a lot more trust in the circle of life. After coming back I felt more accepting about whatever is going to happen with the future of humanity.”
April 1, 2013
By Katherine Keller
There is much that attracts public attention to Bay View. The rebirth of a vital business district is a significant component of its draw but arguably no Bay View business has drawn more notice—local and national—than Sweet Water Organics.
In 2008 its owners established an aquaponics system in an abandoned industrial building, promising its innovations were the foundation of a forthcoming urban-agriculture revolution that would enhance food security and make cities more resilient and sustainable.
Sweet Water’s message was enthralling.
Sweet Water Organics engendered great local pride and goodwill that translated into tremendous support—from ordinary citizens fascinated by the ingenuity of the technology and the promise of good local food to municipal officials who see the emerging urban-agriculture technology as a means to create jobs.
Three years after Sweet Water’s founders launched their aquaponics operation, unable to attract capital investment, they found themselves perilously under water. Supported by Alderman Tony Zielinski, they appealed to the city, and they received a $250,000 forgivable loan from the Economic Development Fund.
The basis of the forgivable loan and indeed the city’s incentive to approve Sweet Water’s loan, was job creation. Instead of repaying the loan in the conventional manner, Sweet Water would repay the city by creating 45 new jobs over the four-year life of the loan. These terms, referred to as its metrics, required Sweet Water to have 10 employees at year-end 2011; 21 at year-end 2012; 35 at year-end 2013; and 45 at year-end 2014.
Sweet Water satisfied the 2011 requirement, and the city forgave $62, 500, one-quarter of the loan. With the new jobs they were to create in 2012, Sweet Water would have created 25 new jobs in Milwaukee, a little more than halfway toward the 45-job goal.
But the report of their 2012 achievement, prepared for the Department of City Development (DCD) was startling. Instead of the required 25 jobs, they finished the year with only 2.35 jobs, having lost 7.65 of the jobs created in 2011.
Martha Brown, DCD’s deputy commissioner reported that those 2.35 jobs allowed $8,928 of the loan to be forgiven in 2012. That left Sweet Water owing the city $53,571 in principal, plus $9,500 in interest (5% rate), or a total of $144,199. The date for payment of the loan was mid-March.
Sweet Water, unable to repay the loan, defaulted. But there was even worse news.
In early March, Sweet Water Organics’ co-founder and an owner, Jim Godsil, in reply to its inquiries about the business, told the Compass that the fish and greens aquaponics program inside 2151 S. Robinson St. had “not been operational since early January.” In other words, their food production business was defunct.
Representatives of Sweet Water Organics met with the Common Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee February 18 to discuss how they might resolve the issue of their $144,200 debt to the city.
Committee Chair Alderman Joe Davis said he set up the meeting to discover why Sweet Water failed to meet its job goals, he said, and to find out why it defaulted “so that we don’t make that mistake again.”
He asked Sweet Water’s representatives if they thought the job numbers they presented when they applied for the loan were unrealistic.
Joe Recchie, an attorney and owner of the Columbus, Ohio-based Community Building Partners, Inc., and a trustee of Sweet Water Foundation, told Davis it was his belief that Sweet Water Organics’ “stated projections were good faith projections, but they were optimistic and ambitious ones, based on the ability to attract additional capital.”
That didn’t happen at the projected pace, he said.
His recommendation for resolving the for-profit’s debt was for the foundation side to absorb “the responsibilities and the activities of Sweet Water Organics.”
Sweet Water Organics, the for-profit company, is paired with Sweet Water Foundation, the nonprofit education arm whose mission is to “educate community members through sustainable urban agricultural practices to create economic development and resilient communities.”
In stark contrast to the for-profit Sweet Water Organics, the nonprofit foundation has readily attracted generous funding.
Jesse Blom, Sweet Water Foundation’s city director outlined the foundation’s growth since its start in 2010.
The foundation’s 2010 budget was $8,000. It had no employees, he said, “but tons of volunteers and interns.” Its 2011 budget was $40,000, but still no employees.
In 2012 the budget (revenue) was $180,000 and it had five employees. “We’re looking at $350,000 in 2013,” he said.
Funding was provided by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the University of California-Irvine, the Veteran’s Administration, and Newman’s Own Foundation.
Blom said that one of the roles of the foundation is “to work with families to grow their own food in small, home-based aquaponics systems” that can be built for “a minimum of $250.” “The foundation is also working with schools and universities to make food production a central part of education. They will learn at the foundation and then do it in school, and it will be reinforced by universities,” he said.
The foundation’s goals and practices are obviously attractive to foundations like Newman’s Own, Gates, and MacArthur.
Pondering the proposal that Sweet Water Foundation could take on the debt of its for-profit side, Alderman Davis asked trustee Recchie if Sweet Water Organics would “exist” if absorbed by the foundation.
Recchie said Sweet Water Organics would continue to exist but that all the growth would be with the foundation and its focus on education and community development. “So Sweet Water will continue to exist as an entity, but no new activities will take place with it,” he said.
He said Sweet Water Foundation’s proposal was for the city to allow the foundation to take over the loan but with modified metrics—in other words, to change the terms. The foundation did not want the metrics to be job formation.
Emmanuel Pratt, Sweet Water Foundation’s executive director, said that his foundation was asking to renegotiate the loan agreement with new metrics that “look at some of the work we do for the outreach, the education…and vocation and career aspects.” He told the committee that a lot of the work the foundation does in education is based on the multidisciplinary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programs.“
Alderman Willie Wade expressed concern about the legality of the proposed loan transfer and new metrics that would no longer require job creation. Martha Brown replied that the city had some options. One, she said, was that the city declare the loan in default for failure to pay. Another option would be to renegotiate the terms of the loan to extend the loan an extra year—thus changing the metrics by which the loan forgiveness is calculated.
Brown asked Jeremy McKenzie, an assistant city attorney, if he agreed.
McKenzie said that he had not looked into “what is allowable or legal within the parameters of the operation of the Development Fund” and could not comment without further research, on Sweet Water Foundation’s proposal.
Committee members continued to explore and consider how they might renegotiate the loan’s terms, if they agreed to transfer it.
Recchie and Pratt pointed out that job creation was not an option because education, not job creation, is the foundation’s mission.
Alderman Zielinski pushed Sweet Water Foundation’s representatives to define their metrics, questioning whether their education efforts created jobs.
And like Davis and Wade, he asked about the legality of the foundation’s proposal. “Do we have the legal authority to transfer the requirements from job creation to education that results in job creation?” he asked. “Do we have that sort of latitude?”
Zielinski, who seemed to have dismissed Recchie’s and Pratt’s advice that the foundation’s mission is education, not job creation, pressed the foundation representatives to prepare documentation to show the committee how it would create jobs. He said, “I think it would behoove your organization to find some way where you can be as successful as you believe you can be successful with Sweet Water Foundation, and leverage those dollars into job creation, so that way, when you come before this committee again, …say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be able to provide education that results in job creation and we’re going to quantify that into X amount of jobs, and in addition to that, we believe with the contacts and leverage we have around the world, we’ll be able to attract the necessary outside capital so that this will also be a job creation component and you can achieve the job-creation component and absorb that within the foundation as long as it isn’t a for-profit entity.’ Do you foresee any, any problems that would preclude you from achieving those goals or approaching this problem with that mindset?”
Recchie reiterated that the foundation’s mission was not job creation. “If you’re saying, could Sweet Water Foundation just adopt the job creation goals of Sweet Water Organics, there is a problem because Sweet Water Foundation has a broader charge,” he advised Zielinski.
Alderman Davis returned to the issue of the legal implications of the proposed loan transfer.
At the beginning of the meeting Martha Brown told the committee that the city had a lien on two pieces of equipment purchased by Sweet Water Organics with the loan. Davis warned, “Then there’s also an issue of assets because there are assets that are out there and we need to be very clear about who assumes those assets and where those assets would be from because it’s the city’s investment and it has to be not just as a good faith effort, but those assets are going to have to be shifted just like [they would be in] any other merger and acquisition…There are assets that are available and those assets have to move. Either the city [would] actually assume those assets, sell those assets off, or those assets will be actually be assigned to a legal entity the proper way.”
When Jim Godsil asked permission to address the committee, he talked about the national and international acclaim Milwaukee has received because of its emerging urban agriculture endeavors and opined that “Milwaukee has a very, very good chance of first winning the Stockholm Water Prize and then a Nobel Prize by virtue of the advances we’re going to be making with high-production, water-conserving food production methodologies.”
Davis, impatient, interrupted, “This is where I get kind of agitated. Milwaukee has an unemployment rate that is skyrocketing and when people come to us and say they’re going to create jobs, we give them the benefit of the doubt to create jobs. At this particular time, I struggle on people not fulfilling that obligation because as all of us in the community in which we represent, when we see a young kid that is out there and they want to learn about aquaponics but now they didn’t get an opportunity because an organization failed to create those jobs, then we do have to ask the tough questions. And it’s not about a Nobel Peace Prize… What it’s all about is giving somebody the opportunity to go to work so they can provide for their family. …I don’t want to pooh-pooh away 35 jobs…brought to this particular…that you were going to create. …So at the end of the day, that’s what is before this committee is that it was a contract. The contract has been breached, and how do we move forward? That’s all I’m interested in,” he said.
Before the committee adjourned, Alderman Davis reiterated his motivation for calling the meeting. He said his intent was when the issue of the loan went before the full Common Council, proposed legislation would be based on the recommendations of the Department of City Development and the Community and Economic Development Committee members.
Is it legal?
Wisconsin law includes a Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act that appears to be relevant to the loan transfer Sweet Water Foundation proposed to the city. When the Compass attempted to field an opinion from city attorney Jeremy McKenzie concerning the legality of the proposal in light of this statute, he refused to comment, referring the question to DCD’s spokesperson, Jeff Fleming.
Fleming said the city would not comment on pending legislative action.
The Compass consulted attorney Zach S. Whitney, of Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C. for an opinion about the proposed loan transfer.
Whitney said he would not advise going foward with it.
“[The city] could open themselves to fraud—interfering with sales contracts, with contracts with creditors. It would be smart for the city to not do this. They could open up a crazy can of worms,” he said and added, “Only with a great deal of reluctance should the city get involved in this transfer.”
In 2011 when Sweet Water approached the city for the economic development loan, DCD officials expressed their concern that the department had very little time to consider the proposal. DCD’s real estate analyst Yves LaPierre asked the Community & Economic Development committee to postpone its vote. He asked for a business plan from Sweet Water and requested more information about construction costs, construction plans, and its potential to create jobs.
When the Compass requested LaPierre’s comment about the quality or depth of the city’s due diligence before voting to approve the loan, he referred it to Jeff Fleming.
“DCD was directed by policymakers to enter into a loan with Sweet Water Organics. The due diligence took place in hearings before the Council. If the question is, was there sufficient due diligence, that is a question to be directed to Council members,” said Fleming.
The Compass made repeated requests for comment from Alderman Davis and Alderman Wade about their decision to support the loan, as well as the current proposed loan transfer. Neither alderman nor staff from either office returned phone calls or email about these matters.
When Alderman Zielinski was asked for his comment, he said, “We are working to identify the best way to address the $160,000 that is at stake. But again, this is a forgivable loan and not a grant. There is strong interest in Sweet Water’s equipment and infrastructure that will translate into significant benefits that could include paying the city back.”
Zielinski speculated that the matter of Sweet Water Organic’s defaulted loan and its proposal to transfer the loan to its foundation would come before the full Common Council in April.
April 1, 2013
By Kevin Meagher
The triangle island at the intersection of Kinnickinnic, Lincoln, and Howell avenues stands free of the contentious Art Stop that has been in the works for almost two years.
The project, to double as a bus shelter and public artwork, is in the final stages of planning and may be completed by the end of this summer or early fall, said project designer Román Montoto, a Milwaukee native and graduate of UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The project was originally slated for completion by November 2012.
An associate professor in the architecture program of the University of Idaho, Montoto’s “Urban Counter-Pose” design was selected from 15 proposals submitted to the Art Stop committee, led by District 14Alderman Tony Zielinski, in January 2012.
“This will be an iconic project in the downtown of Bay View’s business district that will draw more customers and also be the most impressive and aesthetically pleasing shelter for bus riders in the Midwest and maybe the country,” Zielinski said.
Studio Lounge owners Ken and Kerry Yandell and architects Eric Ponto and Thomas Mallmann are the current members of the Art Stop committee who are finalizing the project. Ken Yandell is leading the group to finalize contracts between Business Improvement District #44, the city of Milwaukee, the county, and Montoto. Yandell is a member of BID #44’s executive committee.
“We are still working with the artist to ensure safety, sighting, maintenance, and aesthetic concerns are addressed,” Ken Yandell said.
Montoto said that he’s waiting for a final budget and contract.
Alderman Zielinski said the funding allocated for Art Stop is $206,000 with $50,000 from Milwaukee County, $5,000 from Bayview Supermarket owner Paresh Patel (formerly named Hub Supermarket), $5,000 from the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, and $146,000 from the late David John Dombrowski. Dombrowksi, a former 36-year-employee of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works who lived in Zielinski’s district, willed his estate to DPW.
The BID will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the structure once it is completed and has budgeted $5,000 for the initial development of the project. After Montoto’s design was chosen and funding was secured, BID #44 also became the financial agent responsible for the project.
As the Compass reported in July 2012, the Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) pledged $5,000, and then withdrew funding for Art Stop after the board learned that Montoto had been selected. MAB’s Public Art Subcommittee chair Polly Morris said that he is an architect, not an artist and when they decided to fund the project, “we wanted an artist directly involved.” The board will reserve the money for art programming on the traffic triangle and Morris hopes MAB’s contribution will be used to bring in artists, curators, or performers with a coherent plan for “activating that space” with projects that are more in concert with MAB’s concept of public art.
“The Kinnickinnic BID has signed contracts with both the city and county memorializing their agreement to be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of the public art bus shelter. The BID feels that this project will help draw more people to the business district and I totally agree. We want to keep the momentum for KK development,” Zielinski said.
As far as the bus stops at the intersection, both DPW and Milwaukee County Transit System authorities stated that the 15 and 52 stops would remain on the island. The northbound GreenLine stop, moved to the island during Alterra’s construction, is on Howell Avenue and will not be moved from its location on the southwest corner of Alterra’s lot.
For those following the Art Stop saga, the argument over the design and process by which it was chosen is no secret. From the first public meeting to discuss the project last April until now, the debate over the project has been spirited and well documented.
Bill Sell is one of the most active voices in opposition to the project and serves as Chair on the Transit Services Advisory Committee (TSAC). The committee is appointed by Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and is made up of seven bus drivers and frequent riders. The TSAC met with Montoto and Kerry Yandell in July of 2012 to share their thoughts on the safety and functionality of Montoto’s design in what Sell described as a “cordial” and “highly productive” meeting. While Montoto and Yandell echoed this sentiment, there may have been some disconnect that did not surface until later.
“I did not get the impression that any significant issues of security or functional visibility remained with this group…or, at least it was not communicated to me by this group upon conclusion of my participation in that meeting,” Montoto said.
Having had just a few hours to examine the design before their meeting, the committee members felt their job was not done, and over the course of the next two meetings, continued to discuss the design, and later created an extensive document with recommendations for changes.
“The TSAC found that there were serious flaws in the design that would risk the safety of bus riders: lurking, hidden corners with sight-lines blocked by shrubbery; a nine-foot wall and a seven-foot wall, blocking a view of half the shelter from any sidewalk along the intersection,” Sell said.
The group’s findings were sent to each elected official on the County Board, as well as the members of the Milwaukee Common Council. When, by late November, Sell had received no response from the officials, he began circulating the TSAC document on Facebook in late November. He posted the document with the intention to ask for a pause in the project for neighbors to review it.
In the past few months, Bay View residents have had the chance to look at the TSAC recommendations and share their thoughts through the Bay View Town Hall Facebook page. While the discussion has become both heated and personal at times, it has not deterred Zielinski or the planning committee from proceeding with the project.
“There never will be 100% support for any project and if we held up every project waiting for 100% support, we would never get anything accomplished. It should also be noted that not one person ever showed up to testify against this project at either the city or county level when it actually came up for a vote,” Zielinski said.
In the end, what Sell and the TSAC are primarily concerned with is a lack of input from bus riders in the project planning.
“At the public hearing in April, we (the public) were told that not a single bus rider was included in any step of the process. Had the committee and the artists who submitted consulted bus riders, it is likely that would have changed the culture of the project,” Sell said.
Although the level of involvement of bus riders may not have been as active when the first committee began planning the project, it has become more so now. Bay View residents have expressed their feelings one way or another about the project in various forums, and they have not gone unnoticed by the planning committee. (See comment section: bayviewcompass.com/archives/11039)
“We have spent considerable time evaluating safety concerns, sight lines and overall aesthetic. As a longtime rider of public transit, domestically and internationally, and being a father of girls (living all of my life in a family of women), I am strongly aware that a bus stop should be a safe place designed to serve the function of providing some shelter from the elements,” Ken Yandell said.
“This project, which provides ambient mood lighting, helps with safety since the more light in an area helps with public safety,” Zielinski said. “Additionally, this will increase more foot traffic that will also makes the area safer. It should be noted that last year we bumped out the sidewalks for Café Lulu and Riviera Maya as well as other businesses. So, many businesses will have outdoor seating to enhance the artistic pleasure to go along with their meal and drinks, making this more of a destination area.”
The triangle at Kinnickinnic, Lincoln, and Howell will be without art or a bus shelter for at least a few more months, but whenever Art Stop is installed, the project will be one underscored with public opposition and frustrated demand for input from those who rely on the shelter year round—in rain, snow, biting wind, and blazing heat.
January 2, 2013
By Katherine Keller
Music you can touch, hold in your hand. That’s what moves Ken Chrisien, who opened Acme Records & Music Emporium, 2341 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in October 2012.
Chrisien sells used vinyl LPs in his new store and plans to sell used CDs “in the near future.” His demographic is “anyone and everyone, teenagers to the elderly.” Many of his customers bought a lot of vinyl in the 60s and then ditched the collection, replacing it with CDs when that technology arrived in the 80s. Now they’re looking for the old vinyl again, starting their collection anew.
For others, Chrisien said, the move toward vinyl is a rejection of “something that doesn’t exist,” meaning a digital file, because there is nothing to grab onto, “literally or figuratively.” “Those in their 20s grew up with music not being a physical thing,” he said.
For some, vinyl is not about the music but the album cover. There are people who collect all the album art created by favorite artists.
Chrisien has lived in Bay View for seven years. WMSE listeners know him as Shopkeeper Ken of the 5 & Dime Show or from his past employment at the Bullseye Records and Farwell Music stores.
Chrisien is a romantic, really. He likes the look and feel and sound of vinyl. And it is appealing to him that the basic technology of capturing music on vinyl hasn’t changed much since Edison.
He no longer sells his records on eBay, not since he opened his store. “Why bother? Things have been going well. I prefer to keep it local. It’s a lot easier this way than to box up records, take them to the post office, and hope that they get [to their destination], Chrisien said. “I like to know where they go and the people who buy them.”
Acme carries between 4,000 and 5,000 albums on any given day.
Currently, his shop is a one-person operation, although you will likely also find Penny, his able assistant in the shop. She’s furry and four-footed and barks.
Acme Records & Music Emporium
2341 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
(414) 882-9797 + Facebook
January 2, 2013
By Donna Pogliano
Editor’s Note: January arrives with a stream of new seed catalogs landing on our porches or filling our mailboxes. In September 2012 we published a feature story that profiled some of the many talented Bay View gardeners. Each gardener was provided with a questionnaire. Our writers crafted the text of each profile from the gardeners’ responses. However, one respondent was not content to simply fill out our form. Instead, she wrote an essay about her garden. We didn’t have space to publish her text so we decided to save it until the depths of winter’s dark, when a few splashes of garden color are welcome, if not required, to counter the gloom. So here it is as submitted, except that we added a title.
I am the gardener at our home. My partner Dick Knepper will mow the lawn, but his interest in my landscaping endeavors is confined to occasionally popping a beer in the garden.
Our patio garden is at 1930 E. Estes St. Almost everything in the garden is in pots. Almost everything in the pots is an herb or an annual.
There are perennial coral bells planted in the permanent beds I created along the patio borders. Coral bells come in a variety of foliage colors and are very easy to grow.
The autumn leaves that land in the beds each year serve as mulch in fall. I don’t remove the leaf mulch. It’s just left to decompose.
The pots are filled with coleus, many varieties, which I can never resist, despite the fact that they tend to overgrow their pots and overwhelm everything else that’s planted with them. I particularly love the lime greens and some of the pink and green combinations, and, of course, the black. There seem to be wonderful, sometimes wacky, new cultivars every year.
I love going to Custom Grown Greenhouses on 6th Street and Armour Avenue in late May to see what new and exciting plant varieties owner Paul has gotten his hands on. I like to use verbena varieties, annual phlox, a few purple petunias, fibrous begonias, and an occasional sun impatiens with great foliage-color, to mix with my coleus varieties. And I love, love, love annual vincas for their disease-free hardiness, their neat, dark green foliage, and their lovely reliable blossoms in shades of pink, purple, and white. I particularly like “Bright Eye” with its white petals and red center (“eye”).
I use a timed-release fertilizer mixed into the soil when I pot up the plants, and sometimes polymer granules that hold 100 times their dry volume in water, but no insecticides. Well-grown plants chosen for their natural disease and pest resistance rarely get attacked, in my experience.
My soil is a mixture of bagged potting soil, organic peat, and a generous amount of vermiculite, used to lighten the mix and allow for better aeration. I use vermiculite attic insulation instead of horticultural vermiculite. Horticultural vermiculite is much more expensive and more finely ground, but otherwise it is exactly the same substance as vermiculite used as attic insulation, which comes in great big bags.
I had quite the battle in this year of drought with the resident chipmunk who I tried to murder after he ate every single blossom off the annual phlox. I watched him duck down his hidey-hole, into his nice little burrow under the patio, and immediately put a brick over the hole, plotting his entombment. But the little stinker dug his way out, so how dumb am I?
A certain local newspaper editor, who shall remain nameless, was shocked by my murderous intentions and suggested I put a dish of water out for the little fellow so he’d quit getting his daily moisture quota from my plants. She stopped short of suggesting I install a featherbed in his little burrow. I am now resigned to defeat.
My grandma was a great gardener. Germans are always excited about free food, and she grew standard tomato varieties and saved seed. She often had 120 or more windowsill-grown tomato seedlings to transplant in her gigantic garden as soon as it was warm enough. I take after her but I’ve given up trying to grow food on what amounts to a beach dune in my Bay View garden. But my grandma, who struggled to dig in Milwaukee’s northwest-side heavy clay, well into her 80s, was wowed by the ease with which she could turn over a bed in my first Bay View garden, planted in 1975.
If I have any advice for other Bay View gardeners, it would be to realize that gardens of every kind are always a work in progress. Nothing is forever. If you try something and it doesn’t work, not only is your compost heap a little richer for your failed experiment, but you have opened up a new opportunity in the form of a new vacant space in your garden.
And don’t overlook the power of pots, which allow for rich, well-drained soil, portability, and the creative use of color. Pots offer endless potential for variety, so depending on your color choices and your placement of pots, a garden can look entirely different year after year.
January 2, 2013
By Michael Timm
Originally published November 2005
When the first historic landmark ever designated by the Bay View Historical Society became available for purchase this summer, it was almost too good to be true.
Acquisition of the historic Beulah Brinton house at 2590 S. Superior St. solidified the historical society’s participation in the neighborhood’s resurgence: Its members moved their headquarters from an office in the Marian Center in St. Francis to the 1872 home of Beulah Brinton, one of Bay View’s first and more famous community leaders.
Founded in 1979, 100 years after the incorporation of Bay View as a village, the society today boasts some 400 dues-paying members, making it a strong organization invested in Bay View’s future by remembering its past.
Amy Mihelich was recently elected the society’s president. She embodies the society’s excitement about its new home.
“There are a lot of neighbors in the society who have lived here, knew the Quinseys,” she said, referring to the Brinton house’s previous owners.
Audrey Quinsey and neighbor Paul Kohlbeck were the society’s founding members. After Audrey’s death, and later, her husband Robert’s in April 2005, the society decided to use funds from an earlier bequest to purchase the house, named a historic landmark in 1983.
Mihelich moves swiftly through the empty house, underneath electric chandeliers, past art nouveau leather wainscoting and the giant mirrored swinging door, through the kitchen that now stores the society’s supplies, and into the east parlor where a marble fireplace presides.
“We’re delighted with the beautiful staircase,” she observes, mentioning it will provide a great location for photographing visiting parties.
Upstairs is an office furnished with donated desks and chair.s There is also the archives room, where the society’s collection of artifacts and documents resides still packed in boxes.
“Most of our collection is still in boxes,” said Lois Rehberg, the society’s archives committee chair and a member since the society formed. She’s especially proud of the old period dresses, including a 1950s wedding dress, and the Bay View High School Oracles. Their collection of the school’s yearbooks extends back to 1917. “Those are very valuable,” she said, though the collection lacks many yearbooks since the 1970s.
There are also unique beer bottles made by a Bay View glass company and a “Class of/year sweater” from the only male in his graduating class. “He was in the first graduating class from the barracks at Bay View High. We’ve got his pin and his sweater,” she said.
Future goals for the society include getting comfortable in the former settlement house and continuing to inform new and old Bay View residents of their history.
“It’s important to have a number of moveable displays,” Mihelich said. “We’re looking to put together a display on Beulah Brinton.”
The society will also apply for a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council to produce a video about Bay View.
“This would be a video not only telling the history of Bay View but the best of Bay View,” Mihelich said.
It would focus on the 10 different depictions of historic Bay View on the South Shore Park pavilion mural, she said, and may incorporate community “remembering” events around these historic landmarks.
Mihelich plans to work with the Bay View Garden and Yard Society to maintain and develop the grounds. The yard and first floor may become available for rental to weddings or parties.
A December 10 party inside the house is planned as a fundraiser for membership and the house should be decorated for the holiday season, including vintage ornamentation on a Christmas tree member Cal Wetzel will cut especially for the house’s high ceilings.
If by that time a portrait of Beulah Brinton herself is hung above the fireplace mantle, it will be satisfying for John Ebersol, a friend of the society who lives across the alley from the Beulah Brinton house and is currently working to restore its hardwood floor.
Ebersol, who rebuilt one of the home’s chimneys and discovered a squirrel’s nest in another, shares his knowledge of the building’s history—the yard was once a tennis court, an upstairs waterbed once caused plaster damage, and that pocket doors may have divided the front room.
He’s just one of the neighbors investing time and talent in the historical society.
Milwaukee County boasts about 20 local historical societies, said Robert Teske, executive director of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, but as a neighborhood society Bay View’s membership is “very impressive.”
Before acquiring the Beulah Brinton house, the historical society was perhaps most known for restoring the iron well on E. Pryor Ave. and erecting the state historical marker commemorating the Bay View Rolling Mill. This year it designated a European Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park a historic landmark.
The society supports a scholarship to Bay View High School students and every August it leads a historical neighborhood walking tour. The nonprofit society meets bimonthly at the Beulah Brinton Center and publishes a bimonthly newsletter. It also sells enlarged reproductions of original Bay View postcards.
Annual membership dues are $12 for senior individuals 65 or older, $15 for individuals, $25 for households/nonprofits/small businesses and $50 for corporations.
“We’re truly a work in progress,” Mihelich said, “and believe we will be a work in progress years to come.”
January 2, 2013
By Sheila Julson
Joyce Parker’s free concert series
A rainy mid-December afternoon was the backdrop for the usual activity on Kinnickinnic Avenue as the holiday season approached. There were festively decorated storefronts, shoppers shielding themselves from the inclement weather, cafes and restaurants filled with people warming themselves over steaming lattes and cocoa, and a free Bach concert tucked behind the doors of Joyce Parker Productions.
A free classical music concert? In December? In Bay View?
Indeed. Since 1992 Joyce Parker Productions has presented “Music on KK,” a concert series featuring musicians who perform jazz, swing, classical, country, or Americana. For an hour, beginning at 3pm, attendees are treated to up-and-coming, as well as established performers, who display their musical talents in the cozy space. Admission is free.
Parker, a former lcoal fashion-model, opened a modeling school in her new building. She closed the school a couple of years later, she said, “for various reasons.”
“I’m kind of impulsive,” Parker said, explaining that she decided to try a free music concert series in the wake of the modeling school. She managed the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra at the time and had lots of friends in the music community. Parker is also a pianist.
“I thought, ‘I will open this and the people will come,’” Parker said of the first concert she presented in October 1992. “Two people showed up. Me, and a friend of the musician.”
Parker closed for a month, reopened, and has been running the series since. She takes a hiatus during the summer months because she doesn’t want to compete with the myriad festivals and free outdoor concerts in Milwaukee, including Bay View. “People don’t want to be inside during summer,” she said.
Her intention for creating the free concert series was threefold: to provide artists with an opportunity to try out new material in a friendly setting, to expose the neighborhood to different musical genres and musicians, and to give the gift of music to the community. The concert series is more successful these days, she said.
Both casual music fans and musicians attended the all-Bach double feature December 15. The lineup included a youthful pianist Nathan Qi and retired Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra violinist Dottie Diggs.
After getting comfy on chairs placed on risers, the audience applauded as Nathan Qi was introduced. The 14-year-old pianist, who donned a smart black blazer, displayed maturity beyond his years as he announced his Bach selections and then seated himself at the grand piano. His selections included Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, Toccata in C Minor, Fantasy in C Minor, and Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor.
The glow from illuminated Christmas decorations was cast upon Qi as he launched into his performance. His fingers effortlessly danced along the keyboard as he played the Bach from memory. The audience’s attention was locked on Qi as he played four pieces.
“Joyce Parker Productions is the best kept secret on KK Ave.,” said audience member Karl Nilson, who often attends the performances. Nilson said he comes from a musical family. His mother was a concert pianist and his father played folk music. Nilson, age 71, took up the accordion when he was 51 years old.
Nilson, like most of the audience, was amazed by the piano prodigy. “My mother used to play this. She would have been 104 today,” he said.
After his performance, Qi told the audience that he has been playing since he was seven. He said he was exposed to different music genres in childhood via cartoons and television shows, and that he was particularly impressed by Alla Turca (Turkish Rondo), the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major.
Qi, who studies music at UW-Milwaukee, replied “yes” with no hesitation, when he was asked he planned to make music his career.
Dottie Diggs, who performed after Qi, walked to the modest stage, carrying a viola that was crafted in 1787. Like Qi, Diggs shared information about herself with the audience. She said she performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for 37 years, until she retired in 2010. In a flowing blue and lavender gown, she gracefully glided a Baroque bow across the strings of her antique instrument while the audience watched and listened intently. She played Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major (of the Six Unaccompanied Suites), transcribed for viola.
Diggs paused between the suite’s six movements to tell brief stories about each. She said, for example, that the fifth movement, sarabande—a dance in triple meter—was considered risqué before Bach’s time and was once outlawed in Spain.
Diggs said there is a charm about playing in a small performance space like Parker’s. “It’s a nice, intimate venue. I can speak to the audience…like a group of friends,” she said. She has performed in the “Music on KK” concerts in the past and is planning a future performance with piano accompaniment. Diggs is also a photographer and has works on display in Parker’s building.
After an afternoon of soul-enriching music, the audience gradually filtered out, dropping nominal donations into the basket to help cover the building’s energy costs and to keep the shows going.
The “Music on KK” series will be on break in January 2013. It resumes in February and runs through June.
Music on KK
2685 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
December 10, 2012
By Jennifer Kresse
“Caaaaaaaaw! Screeeeeeeee! Chuck-chuck-chuck. Urrr-ooh?” That’s what the new greeter at Sid’s Auto Repair, 3166 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. may call out when you step inside the car shop. The greeter is Buddy, a gregarious juvenile Quaker parrot. He sits on the counter next to mechanic Glen Bradley, who tends to the phone and counter at Sid’s.
Buddy commutes to work with Glen every morning. “He likes car rides,” Bradley said. “He gets excited about them.”
The parrot is 4 months old and although still a few months away from talking, Bradley already has him in the early stages of learning to say “hello” and is teaching him to flap his wings on command.
Buddy spends his days at the shop, sometimes in his cage, but the friendly, curious creature can also be found strutting along the counter, sitting on top of his cage, or on Glen’s wrist “What he usually does is, he’ll knock down his swing, or his pinecone, and he knows that I’ll open up the cage door to put it back up, and then he comes out. Yeah, he’s tricky,” Bradley laughed.
Bradley wasn’t always a bird-lover—not until a small, weakened lovebird (member of parrot family) appeared outside of Sid’s this summer. He took pity on the bird. Glen nursed him back to vigor with food and water, and then found a home for the bird with a family who had another lovebird. That rescue changed Bradley. “I kind of fell in love with it. I liked the idea of having a bird. I’d never thought of [it] before,” said Bradley.
Bradley acquired Buddy from a breeder in Twin Lakes, Wis. in early September. The breeder assured Bradley that Buddy’s wings were clipped but even so, Bradley discovered, traumatically, that Buddy “could fly just fine.” As Bradley was transporting the parrot from the car to his Bay View home, Buddy escaped through the cage door that was ajar. He called Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) to report the missing bird and searched the neighborhood. “I was out until four in the morning looking for him.”
Fortunately, a neighbor spotted the parrot sitting on her garbage bin the next day. She called MADACC to report the bird. Buddy was reunited with Bradley about 24 hours after the escape, thanks to MADACC and Bradley’s good neighbor.
Bradley is going to keep on top of Buddy’s wing-clipping, which he said should be done every three months or so. “Gary’s Pet Jungle does it for, like four dollars. And that way I’m not the bad guy,” Bradley said.
Bradley, who is single, often socializes the bird with his four nieces and nephews. “I go over to my sister’s, who lives across the street. They have four kids and they get to play with him and feed him treats. Usually I’ve got to get him [on my finger] and then hand him over, but once he’s on the kids, he’ll climb up on their shoulder,” Bradley said.
Being lavished with attention seems to augment Buddy’s cuddly, gregarious personality. “Customers love him,” Bradley said.