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Art Lives Here!

April 23, 2011

A new day, a new venue, same old weather.  A repeat of cloud and misty rain; spring in the Midwest.  But in the writing place I was headed for…. the weather wouldn’t matter.

One enters the Milwaukee Art Museum into the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windover Hall, with its exquisite white marble floor, a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling, and above it the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily. I flashed my membership card and walked directly to the magnificent windows to gaze out over Lake Michigan.

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I took a photo of the Harbor House – tres chic restaurant, and then headed over to my office.  The Coffee with a Conscious café is just off of the hall, so from my desk, I could see the hall, out the windows next to me, or I could look at the Chihuly sculpture, which is one of my favorite pieces in the museum.

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Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941)
Isola di San Giacomo in Palude Chandelier II, 2000

I arrived just a little after 10:00 and was the only customer in the café.  The latte was very tasty.  The bakery, from a variety of bakers and restaurants in the city, looked wonderful.  I resisted!  This is probably the most international scene in Milwaukee, and I heard many different languages.

It was a productive morning of writing.  There was a soft hum of conversation in the café and in the hall, but it wasn’t distracting.  As it got crowded around lunchtime, I gave up my table to ravenous-looking art lovers.  I strolled through the long hallway of the Quadracci Pavilion to the gallery space of the main collections.  My favorite spot is on the third floor, which hosts the Bradley Collection, containing important European and American painting, prints, watercolors, and sculpture from the late 19th century to the early 1970s. Works their include Fauve paintings by Georges Braque and Maurice de Vlaminck, Expressionist paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Vassily Kandinsky, works by Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti, and a handsome collection by another one of my favorites, Georgia O’Keefe.  There is a room at the corner of this floor with comfortable chairs and a magnificent view.

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No pens allowed in the museum, so it was fortunate my writing instrument of choice is a pencil.  There I sat for a good long while, taking notes about my morning, and trying not to get caught up in the meditation of the view.

Many positives for this venue: free wifi, good coffee, wonderful views, comfortable seating.  What more could a writer ask for? The only tick against, once again, was parking.  The meter I plugged ate my money and didn’t give me any time.  I was very pleased to find there was no ticket flapping under the windshield when I went back to retrieve my car.  In the summer, I could ride my bike there, or park a bit down the lakefront and walk back.  There is an option for members to park in the garage below the museum, five passes for $25.  Not a bad deal.  Either way, I will definitely go back, not only for the art, but for my desk!  And I continue to ponder, does  the muse “make the contact, [do I] become the conduit, or [do I simply] engage in this mysterious process?”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2011 8:28 pm

    I’ve so much enjoyed your recent series of posts on writing venues – not only are they filled with gorgeous, appealing images that make me somewhat jealous, they’ve given me an entirely new view of your part of the world.

    On the other hand, they also sent me off looking for a certain paragraph from Annie Dillard. I finally found it in her Writing Life. I offer it not so much as an argument in opposition as another opinion in the discussion.

    “Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. When I furnished this study seven years ago, I pushed the long desk against a blank wall, so I could not see from either window. Once, fifteen years ago, I wrote in a cinder-block cell over a parking lot. It overlooked a tar-and-gravel roof. This pine shed under trees is not quite so good as the cinder-block study was, but it will do.”

    I confess her approach seems better to me. Of course, I’m easily distracted, so too much beauty around isn’t necessarily good!

    A happy Easter to you. I trust tt’s been introduced to at least some of the trappings!

    Hi Linda, Thank you!
    I am not distracted, like Annie, by beautiful views or crashing waves or the hum of strangers around me, fortunately. I am only distracted by people (and animals) asking me to do things! So these lovely venues are working quite well.

    Yes, the Easter Bunny swung by Milwaukee and tt received a basket full of gardening tools and her own, little, wellies. She is all set for summer!

    From the sound of your writing, Easter was lovely. I am happy for you.

  2. vineman permalink
    April 25, 2011 7:03 am

    Lovely spaces to carry on the business of writing. Very calming, very meditative. Now, if only I could write.

    Well, I am sure you can write. Doesn’t matter – just go look at the art!

  3. April 27, 2011 8:22 pm

    This really looks like a great inspiring place. Your photo’s are magnificent and in fact they make you want to pick up pen, paper, laptop, whatever is allowed, and start writing. Good for you finding these places.

    Hi Sea. Definitely inspiring – the lake is wonderful any time of year. It’s been fun exploring all of these writing havens!

  4. May 1, 2011 9:41 pm

    What an amazing office you have, my dear — even someone to make your latte! And quite the view! It sounds wonderful and inspiring.

    I can see you’ve been posting more often and now I must catch up! Eager to see.

    I’ll fill you in on this when I see you, but I will be in Milwaukee for a brief two days for a board meeting in July. I don’t know what the time frame is but perhaps tea somewhere — if not in your office!

    Most definitely tea somewhere, Jeanie! I have many wonderful venues for work and play! Let me know the dates when you find out. 🙂

  5. May 9, 2011 5:06 pm

    It sounds like a productive and relaxing day all rolled into one. Very cool that you can bike there in future if you so desire. I saw a Chihuly exhibit a few years ago in St. Louis and the work was truly incredible. His skill and his vision to create are just amazing. I can easily see why you like the piece so much.

    This is a bit off topic, but I do hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day, and although it is a day late I still send you those wishes.

    thanks for the Mom’s day wishes, Carl. It was a double nice day, being a grandmom, too! 🙂

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