“These Buildings Were Demolished for Soulless Surface Parking Spaces”. In reading this article, all I could visualize is the painful cycle of industrialization that has flourished and will continue for years to come.
One thing I noticed immediately upon reading is the lack of attention on what came before buildings or parking lots. Not only have buildings been razed to create space for parking, but before that nature had to be removed to make room for a building. This is the first step of the cycle, and one that should not be ignored. The removal of historical buildings and architecture is already a shame, but adding that on top is a whole other layer.
Land forever changes too. Something our author is acutely aware of is that in all likelihood these locations will go through further lifecycles. Buildings grown in the place of old parking lots to make space for more people, and other nearly locations destroyed to make parking spaces for said people.
The author has chosen to use a lot of cultural context when talking about these locations. In most if not all buildings on the list, he describes brief history and importance to each place. This context goes a long way for readers, many of whom are likely Milwaukee natives or residents. “The Brass Rail next door was home to a mob run jazz club where named musicians occasionally played, which nearly included John Coltrane.” This quote stuck out to me personally. My father was a lifelong jazz fan and musician and as a result quite a bit has rubbed off on me. While I have very little architectural connections to these buildings, I feel that preserving historic buildings is often needed. Hearing these details makes me care about the place much more than I otherwise would, especially considering I am a Milwaukee native and jazz enjoyer. I’m not sure the enthusiasm would be the same for someone who is reading this in another state or city.
Regardless, I think writer James McDowell has a simple and dynamic style to his article that helps get the point across quickly and effectively. Even if I did not have the context as mentioned above, I am sure this would be an interesting and educational read.
Todd Mrozinski is a Milwaukee based artist with an ever important eye for detail. His works and writing emphasize a clear passion for the minute details in art and nature around us.
“Mrozinski's work is produced in series, each series relates symbolically to his life experience and grows out of present day observation and inspiration.”
This ‘observation’ is very key to Mrozinski when viewing what he makes. Much of his art exists like a photograph, a still frame captured in time. Catching the sky at a moment of summer sunset, or the snow on a tree during the depths of winter. Of his works that are not nature, this stillness remains. In his series ‘At the Edge of the Table’, he captures half eaten foods, utensils, and other brief moments and items in the kitchen. In ‘Hobbit Haus Drawings’, stills are framed with windows at different times of the day. Mrozinski has a deep appreciation for these moments, seen further in the way he writes about others' Art.
Mrozinski frames both articles like a kid in a candy store; he has nothing but pure appreciation for the ability to view another’s work. He speaks almost poetically in describing his walks through the spaces, taking note of certain pieces as he passes. In his article on “Inside/Out” at the Portrait Society Gallery, he describes the works as “Salve for the soul”, starting the reader with mystical imagery going forward. Some quotes that stood out to me are below.
“The colors are ultra-saturated and seem to swell with a renewed sense of life”
“I feel like I’m looking through a miniature opening into another world of remembered vacations or imagined oases”
“the youth starts his piano solo with determined vigor like a seed pushing through soil”
Much like his own works, Mrozinski does not view these as simple paintings and art works, but as captured moments of emotion and time. The second article is full of these textured descriptions of work and technique. One quote from this article that perfectly sums up his views is when talking about Cezzane’s work -
“Paul Cezanne’s “Self Portrait” from 1878-80 is not so much painted as massaged. It is a self anointed portrait which seems to have been built with his thumbs. The clay-like paint is pushed, smeared and built like the mountain, Mount Sainte-Victoire, that he would paint over 60 times in his life.”
Mrozinski chooses to focus on technical moments in the pieces in this article, naming the painted details before him as clay-like, scraped, conversational, and even internal organs at one point. His colorful language accentuates the visuals and allows the viewer to see through his eyes. To see the work in the complex way he himself sees it.
While I knew nothing of Mrozinski’s work prior to these readings, I now know he is one to look out for in the art scene. His attention to detail is one that I rarely see in this setting, and I’d love to keep up with his art and writing in the future!
For this assignment, I looked at a few of the major local websites for Milwaukee that all share similar content. The first website I looked at was On Milwaukee. For each website I looked at the website as a whole, or picked out an individual article to view.
Starting off, I looked at this article on the old Zoo.
Link : https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/washington-park-zoo-photos
These sorts of historical photos will always interest me. They exist in the early life of photography when documentation was not yet extremely common. I honestly had no clue this zoo even existed, but I worked at the Milwaukee County Zoo for years... so I feel a connection to this one. This article in specific is more of a historical article. There is a sense of opinion being put forward in some quotes, but for the most part it is purely about the history of that zoo and it's move into the one we know today.
The next article I looked at on this site was about streaming films on Netflix.
It seems like this kind of article is pretty common on the website. A mix of professional article writing with a personal touch. This one was written in a much more casual style as if I was a friend of the writer. There is clearly a LOT of variety in the content you can find on this site, and plenty to explore.
The next site that I viewed was Urban Milwaukee.
This is a very similar website to the last, though I must say from a personal standpoint I much prefer the other website. This one is plagued with ads, going between articles and pictures and on the sides and top of the page as well. It’s not really an issue, but I tend to think a website feels a bit less professional when it is packed with unclearable ads. As far as the article goes, I think it is informative and gives the right amount of content. When it comes to a topic like this, a couple paragraphs is enough. I do not need to be bogged down with writing. As a final note, I think the graphic design is a bit uglier than some of the others.
After that I viewed Milwaukee Mag
Link : https://www.milwaukeemag.com/milwaukee-dine-out-guide-2020/
I thought this one was interesting! A magazine/zine spread that is fully digitally accessible keeps traditionally printed things like this current and useful. While it’s odd to see print start to become obsolete, this is a great way to keep it alive.
The website itself is one of the easiest to navigate, and in my opinion has the best design. The website has parts that move as you scroll, and some article boxes break outside the borders of others to help change up the monotony. They use a variety of fonts, images and illustrations, as well as many other minor visual details to keep the interest. As a plus, I found very few ads if any.
The last website I viewed was Shepherd Express, where I did some research on the culinary side of Milwaukee writing.
Link : https://shepherdexpress.com/food/eat-drink/milwaukees-august-restaurant-news/
I like food. I often times struggle finding a place to eat with my girlfriend, friends or family, so I could see myself actually using these when I’m having a hard time picking something to eat. One thing I notice about this one is that it has a store for merchandise, a link to a few of the podcasts they must own, and even an area to do weekly puzzles like crosswords and other word puzzles. I like this aspect, as again it’s good to keep the traditions of print alive when we eventually don't have it anymore. The merchandise and podcasts are also bonus additions that make the site feel more professional, and worth viewing. I personally am more of a listener than a reader, so I could see someone seeking out these podcasts as a viable alternative to reading articles.
Milwaukee has plenty of Websites to choose from for local and historical information, though hopefully my writing here can help you narrow down which is best for you. I think I would strongly recommend Milwaukee Mag, Shepard express and On Milwaukee, while Urban Milwaukee can take a backseat.