Saturday, February 20, 2010

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Colnik's Masterpiece (the ironwork piece he completed to earn the title MASTER blacksmith) it includes all the elements a blacksmith would ever use..

tools from his shop

On a beautiful, sunny Milwaukee morning I was invited to come visit the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum along with my the advanced undergraduate metals students at UW-Milwaukee and all the graduate students from UW-Madison. We were invited to come visit the museum and draw inspiration for a brand new project. The museum's curator is heavily interested in supporting the emerging craft artists of Milwaukee, and wants us to propose exhibition ideas of how we could exhibit work that is specific to this space.

Two weeks ago, I went to the mansion of Captain Frederick Pabst who is most well known for his contribution to the brewery market. What I loved about that home was how extremely decadent it was, and it was only built about 100 years ago. He was from German Heritage, and came to Milwaukee because of the thriving brewery market, and the Villa Terrace is another example of this expedition by German immigrants.

Cyril Colnik was an Austrian master blacksmith, who traveled to Milwaukee after finishing his apprenticeship in Vienna, and his instruction in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and finally Munich, Germany. He came here to support his peers for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and stayed because of all the work he was able to get in the large German community of Milwaukee at the time.

The large collection of his work is scattered around the mansions in Milwaukee and the largest collection of work at the Villa T. Martha Monroe, the museum's curator boasts how fascinating it is that his work was not meant to be art, but it was just the way he was trained.

Anyhow, there is a lot to consider here in preparation for my proposal to the museum for a show. I love how exciting it is to hear about the rich German history here in Milwaukee. First breweries galore, now decorative arts. I've been so excited about working with iron lately, I'm very appreciative to have been invited to this wonderful opportunity, and I am pumped to start working on it a bit more. For now, I am really responding to that last image. Something about the palette of that dark wood, the drapery and the pattern of the white embossed ceiling is really striking me.

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