Thoughts on the Destruction of Historic Buildings and Jason McDowell’s Research
By Olivia Lorber
As I read the OnMilwaukee article “These buildings were demolished for soulless surface parking spaces” by Jason McDowell, I started to pick up on how this article was written for more than just the sake of saying parking lots are not as pretty as historical architecture. Jason McDowell gives us this underlying message before we even get to see the first before and after photographs as he states “Here are some examples of where people and potential were pushed out for parking.” For most of the article, Jason speaks about how surface parking lots are not necessary considering how many parking structures exist and almost never reach full capacity. He goes on to say how early Milwaukee buildings are destroyed for bigger and better skyscrapers and the charm of the building is removed. But there is a lot more to be gathered from this article than just aesthetic downgrades. What Jason highlights about the forced removal of people from their homes and the destruction of loved historic sites that have existed in these local communities for years is about gentrification.
These parking lots are a lot more convenient for the new residents of the city. They need parking closer to their newly constructed apartments and for less cost than the structures that already exist here. Out with the old and in with the new does not benefit those who have lived in this city since the beginning of its development. Jason talks about the highway system and how it makes room for more and more cars but demolishes the parts of the city that were already here. This is a very negative consequence of newly constructed transportation systems that goes under the radar for a lot of people. You might think that another parking lot is a good thing, just like new apartments seem like a good thing. But these come at a greater cost that has wealthier populations in mind. Not for the good of the existing Milwaukee residents. The way that Jason writes is intelligent and articulated in a way that gets all kinds of people speaking about this issue. He calls out to artists, critiques unattractive aesthetics, nods to nostalgia, and acknowledges the people who have been pushed out of these neighborhoods because of these parking lots.
I have only lived in Milwaukee since 2018 and I have already been able to witness historic buildings get bulldozed and replaced by cookie-cutter lofts that cost an extreme amount of money per month to lease. These buildings drive up property values and diminish the ability to afford rent for the people who already live in these neighborhoods. I saw this in my hometown of Baltimore as well. Gentrification is no stranger to cities all across the country. Local diners that have existed before my grandparents were born were torn down and turned into a Starbucks. Bringing more traffic into these areas than ever before, harming the population who already live there. Jason McDowell uses his style of writing to cater to a wider audience than just the people affected by the cost of living increases, making more people pay attention to a growing issue.
Jason’s article reminds me of another OnMilwaukee article I read about the renovation and reopening of the historic Oriental Theater in Milwaukee. Rather than destroying it and building an AMC, a valued community center was restored and made more accessible. This is the importance of supporting existing communities and neighborhoods, rather than making them look prettier for wealthier groups to move in and push others out.
An Analysis of Art Through Todd Mrozinski’s Voice
By Olivia Lorber
As I looked through Todd Mrozinski’s archive of paintings, etchings, prints, and writings, it became clear to me pretty quickly that he is someone who values life in all of its facets. Todd spoke about paintings he witnessed at the Milwaukee Art Museum and instead of speaking about the technical mastery of the work, he went in-depth about how the artist must have handled the paintbrush, how their strokes of paint look like clay pushed around with fingers, or how Sheboygan artist Thomas Haneman’s immersive plant paintings depict his growth and overcoming of a deep depression. The way that Todd Mrozinski speaks about art seems as if his words are used to help someone who can’t see the work in person feel what he felt when staring at the piece up close. In Todd’s Urban Milwaukee article “Portrait Society Show Packs Emotional Punch” he describes how emotionally resonant Ted Brusubardis’ piece, “Lietus in 3 Movements” was to him. Todd mentioned he left the gallery with tears in his eyes and as a reader who did not get to witness this piece in person, I got a sense of that power through Todd’s words.
Todd Mrozinski’s style of writing does not come off as a diary of entry of his own experiences for solely himself to refer to. As much as he describes his own appreciation for a piece of art, he writes about each work to help his readers understand and experience a work of art they can not see. I quote from Todd that I feel really summarizes my interpretation of his voice in writing and personality is from another Urban Milwaukee article of his called “The Power of Great Paintings” Todd says “What made Duncan Phillips such a modern collector is that he didn’t just choose paintings from some of the greatest contemporary artists of his time, he knew many of the artists personally, supported their careers and chose the very best examples of their work.” I enjoyed the sentiment of this as he valued the thought and passion behind the collector Duncan Phillips, rather than boasting about the extent or value of the collection itself. Todd seems to have an incredible passion for art that is important for all of us artists to hold on to. I appreciated getting to read about art from a writer whose voice offers such liveliness and reassurance.
An informal review by Olivia Lorber
I really enjoyed looking through websites that focussed on positive things happening in the community. The OnMilwaukee website had interesting articles about the restoration of a historic theater. In the Milwaukee Record, I read about the origins of the Lynden Sculpture Garden. I liked getting to know more about what has existed in Milwaukee for a really long time much more than reading the articles about what is hot on Netflix or the 1000th bar you just have to go to. In regards to community, I was most interested in architectural restoration and historical sites or events. But there is so much more to the community than just what exists around it. During the WRTG400 class discussion, Taj had mentioned that Shepherds Express had a focus on grassroots activism. He brought up that the paper would actually allow submissions for social organizing happening in the area and would publish ways to get involved.
Each website had something unique to offer. Some were more formal and commented on serious world issues, like police brutality, homelessness, and covid19. Other websites were definitely more entertainment-based; Featured headlines talking about movies to watch, music events to go to, and local festivals. This was especially evident when looking at the subcategories these news websites broke themselves into. Milwaukee Record had a podcast tab, MilwaukeeMag had an outdoor adventures tab and more accessible articles about queer identities.
When thinking about how I would want to publish my own website or blog, I knew that I would want it to have more substance than Netflix recommendations and be more focused on art and history rather than being centered on serious world issues. Ideally, I would reach a harmonious balance between formality and casual entertainment. I would want to write about museums, feminism, and art history, a blend of all three. Our class discussion expanded my own interpretation of what a news site has to offer. It is not all darkness and politics and has the potential to be more complex than Buzzfeed. Listed below are my thoughts pertaining to each website individually.
At first glance, the OnMilwaukee website seems to be your average news/entertainment site. The first page that pops up is filled with movie recommendations, good places to eat or drink in Milwaukee, local event advertisements, and the occasional act of community service or organization that made a difference in the city. The design of the website is not the most inviting, ads and generally scattered articles on the homepage are a bit visually overwhelming, and if I was not assigned to pick an article to read I would quickly see myself exiting the website. I think the OnMilwaukee team is self-aware on this because they do offer a tutorial on how to figure out what you’re looking for, or even find a place to start. Amongst all the Buzzfeed-Esque what’s hot on Netflix articles, one headline did really stand out to me, “Watch: Oriental Theatre restoration moves into its fourth of five phases” By Senior Editor/Writer Bobby Tanzilo.
As a film and art history lover, the idea of preserving and restoring historic buildings was immediately appealing to me. I am witnessing the active gentrification of neighborhoods in both Milwaukee and my hometown of Baltimore. Buildings that have existed for triple my lifetime are being torn down and streamlined generic modernized apartment complexes or the millionth Starbucks are put in their place. It was refreshing to see that a community theater that had lived on Farwell since 1927 was to be restored and reopened to the public rather than awaiting demolition.
I was happy to learn that the company working to restore the historical theater, Milwaukee Film, focussed on maintaining as much of the ornate original detailing as possible while updating the seating, entrances, and floors to make the space more accessible to a wider range of audiences. In addition to the article, a video interview of two cinema operations managers at the Oriental Theater was provided. They discussed all of the phases of renovation and what took place during each one, including improved safety measures, updated plaster, expanded bathrooms, and up-to-date lighting. This feels like what positive change and investing in communities in a healthy manner could continue to look like.
Link to the article I read: https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/oriental-restoration-phase-four
Starting off, the home page feels very similar to the content shown on OnMilwaukee. Local events, restaurants to visit, things happening in the music scene, and general world news are all the first things you see when the website loads. The interface is a bit easier to navigate than OnMilwaukee, the categories of articles are all listed plain and simply at the top, and a scroll feature for their most recent articles is front, center, and easy to use.
My first instinct was to go right to the film tab and see what’s being shown locally, since I read about cinema on the last news website I visited, I checked out the Culture and Visual Arts tab. I noticed right away that the articles on this website are very current. I saw multiple headlines of gallery and museum exhibition reviews that I haven’t even gotten the chance to see in person yet. I could see this site as being a good resource to keep up to date on the local art scene and keep tabs on places I would be interested in showing my own paintings at.
The article that I chose to read all the way through was “Shari Urquhart’s ‘Mustn’t Touch’ at Portrait Society and The Warehouse” by Shane Mcadams. I was drawn to this article because I am vaguely familiar with both gallery spaces and have wished to see an exhibition there for quite some time. I also briefly skimmed through the text and saw that Shari Urquhart was an extremely prolific woman artist who centered her work around gender politics and reinterpretations of classical paintings of women, all done by men. As someone who identifies as a woman, and is interested in learning more about the origins and evolution of feminism, I decided to read this article all the way through.
Shane Mcadams selects a handful of Shari Urquhart’s works throughout her career and analyzes them through the historical context of when she created them. He mentions that during Urquhart’s time at the New York School she experienced suffocating hyper-masculinity and was taught the patriarchal history of art. I was inspired by her ability to reject the teachings of the 1960s and assert the value of the women’s role in art, the home, and the world at large. The way Shari Urquhart took the representation of women into her own hands by reimagining classical paintings of women done by men reminds me of a similar approach by Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Renaissance painter. Artemesia inserted herself into mythology and painted women as more dominant and powerful figures, a refreshing contrast from the submissive portrayals by men.
Link to the article I read: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2021/05/14/visual-art-the-remarkable-art-of-shari-urquhart/
Urban Milwaukee’s website immediately seems to be less focused on art and entertainment. The homepage features articles regarding important local news, political events, police reformation, and the current social climate. There is still a section designating for reading about entertainment but it is visibly not the focus of the site. The article I chose to read was “Kenosha Unrest Used to Push New Rioting Laws” by Isiah Holmes. This headline definitely raised concern for me, I had already heard Republican pushes to redefine the word Riot and knew that this was an attack on the constitutional right to protest. Reading all the way through the article, my suspicions were proven correct. As of the time this article was published, the bill was unsuccessful, and for good reason. The bill aimed to define a riot as “an act of violence by at least one person in the unlawful assembly that substantially obstructs law enforcement or another governmental function.” By at least one person. Who is to say that there is a single instigator of violence in the area and now every protestor in proximity to the so-called “rioter” is now eligible for a felony charge.
The bill was initially pushed by a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, John Spiros. He hides his bigoted views toward the Black Lives Matter organization by saying he understands the difference between protest and riot and that the bill would never be aimed toward criminalizing peaceful protest. But this is absolutely ridiculous if one single person even threatening the idea of violence is grounds to deem an entire protest a riot. Later in the article, a story by a business owner, Scott Carpenter, whose establishment was burned down in Kenosha last summer, following the murder of Sylville Smith, is used to vilify the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. Quote: “Carpenter held up another picture of a “BLM” spray-tag on his store’s sign. “So I don’t know, were they responsible? I don’t know. They tagged it, maybe. I don’t know.” This personal story had no place in the article regarding what the definition of a riot is. They knew that adding this as a way to support their unconstitutional bill was a manipulative tactic to make the Black Lives Matter protestors seem like nothing but violent rioters.
Many other articles on the Urban Milwaukee website seem to be against these views and are in favor of police reformation and support of the working class.
Link to the article I read: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2021/08/26/kenosha-unrest-used-to-push-new-rioting-laws/
Link to the article I read:
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Urban Milwaukee, MilwaukeeMag seems to be almost entirely focussed on the summer life in Milwaukee, fun places to eat and drink, and things to do with categories called style, culture, city life, and outdoor adventures. The website is centered around up-to-date events and upcoming activities that you shouldn’t miss if you are into the social scene of Milwaukee. At first glance, this website is not something I would be interested in, as an introverted person who likes to have fun at home or in the studio. I had a difficult time finding anything I felt like reading on this website as it was not the most user-friendly and I was generally un-intrigued by any headlines.
I decided on reading “Tickets Are on Sale for Fringe Fest, But What Is It?” by Archer Parquette. I have never heard of Fringe Fest and I was curious to find out more. The article was not the clearest on what exactly the festival is or how it started but I learned that it is a “showcase of actors, painters, dancers, musicians, and more.” The event was held in part by the Marcus Performing Arts Center, an organization that I was involved with over the summer to paint a mural for. I really enjoyed being at the Marcus Center so I wanted to hear a bit more about what the Fringe Fest had to offer. Unfortunately, the article was very brief and generally unorganized. The author briefly mentions which artists will be present at this year’s event and fills the rest of the page with odd input about the donors who fund the event. Even after reading the whole article I still did not have much of an understanding of the festival and my computer was glitching and refreshing so many times as I tried to read because of the ads and pop-up screens on the website. Maybe this would work better on a mobile device but I learned that I would not want my personal website to function anything like this one once I get further into it.
I was unsatisfied with the article I chose so I clicked on a handful of other articles about fine art on the website and they all gave me similar results: too brief, not very intriguing, and difficult to read without the website jumping to the top or bottom of the page.
Link to the article I read: Currently Unavailable
The Milwaukee Record has a similar blog/magazine visual style as Milwaukee Mag but was executed in a far more user-friendly way. The most recent news and events were prioritized on the homepage and the advertisements were not in the way or impeding my ability to browse through the site. Milwaukee Record was also focussed primarily on city life, art ad entertainment, music, comedy, sports, and places to eat and drink in Milwaukee. The article I chose to read was “Mandatory Milwaukee: Art and nature collide at Lynden Sculpture Garden.” by Tyler Mass. The article was short and sweet, it highlighted the most interesting parts of the Lynden Sculpture Garden and gave us insight into its history along the way. I really enjoy reading short but super informative articles like this one, I could see myself coming back to this website a lot to learn about what historical art spaces exist around me.
My favorite part of the article was when Tyler Mass talked about the family who owned the home and curated the sculpture collection’s fascination with contemporary art. I enjoyed that the home was opened to the public in 2010 for the surrounding community to come and witness the great achievements of modern sculptors. The Lynden Sculpture Garden has over 50 different works spread throughout 40 acres of land. It is not only a place to go and view art, but it is a way to get out into nature and go on a hike, view beautiful scenery, and have fun. I have heard of the garden before reading the article but never got the chase to visit, after reading I will definitely have to plan a time to head out. The Milwaukee Record seems pretty convincing in its efforts to bring in more traffic to these local art spaces. I appreciated this style of writing way more than the way it was attempted in the articles by Milwaukee Mag. The Milwaukee Record also has a podcast where they talk about local news and events, which I could see myself listening to from time to time.
Link to article I read: https://milwaukeerecord.com/arts/mandatory-milwaukee-art-and-nature-collide-at-lynden-sculpture-garden/
Before this, I did not have a specific favorite national news site. I would often hear the first of local and national news on social media and look up the specific events afterward to learn more. After reading articles on Milwaukee Record and Shepherd Express, I wanted to find a place whose articles focussed on art, music, and entertainment on a larger scale. I am not sure if this is exactly what was being looked for in regards to a National News Site but I chose Harper’s Bazaar. I enjoyed that the website was designed to feel like social media posts on Instagram or Twitter. Harper’s Bazaar is described as an American monthly women’s fashion magazine, but taking a closer look at the website shows it touches on much more than style alone.
The site is split into categories, just as the local news sites were. Fashion, voices, art and entertainment, film and tv, books, music, latest news, culture, and beauty. I enjoyed that this magazine features the voices of women and younger generations. The article I chose to read was called “Isn’t It Iconic?” by Kaitlyn Greenidge. I was initially drawn to this article because the headline was left intentionally vague, they prefaced the text saying “what does iconic even mean anymore”. Curious to find out more, I read all the way through and learned that it was written as a transcript from a podcast, an active conversation on language and terms that originate, get used, and become overused. Different members of the podcast list what they think iconic means to them: easy and quick way to sum up all of your thoughts, a way to say something is nostalgic, a term from RuPaul’s Drag Race that means something is everything but also nothing, a fun starting point for conversation, an exaggeration, hyperbole, different from an icon.
I had never thought twice about the word iconic, I understood it as a word that means you really like something or have a strong attachment to something nostalgic, and therefore it’s iconic. It was interesting to read about the origins and different interpretations of a word that is so widely a part of people’s vocabulary, well at least of those who use the internet.
Link to the article I read: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a37323147/isnt-it-iconic/