Archive for the ‘Milwaukee Art Museum’ Category


Driving by the Milwaukee Art Museum on Saturday morning, the contrast of the open soleil against a brilliant blue, cloud-streaked sky was more than I could bear. The Wabi Sabi staff car made a sharp unplanned right, nearly missing the entrance, but was rewarded with an unlimited view of the building, sans visitors and assorted cars.

Of course, I ended up zeroing in on the wings as they stood poised against the sky, like impossibly graceful birds.

Windhover Hall, a mind-boggling component of the Milwaukee Art Museum complex, is the portion of the museum visible above made up of blue-tinted glass. The Burke Brise Soleil is a moveable sunscreen with a wingspan of 217 feet that fits over Windhover Hall and opens and closes twice a day. Both the Hall and the Soleil are part of the museum campus called The Quadracci Pavilion and were designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  The entire structure is an incredibly arresting sight, poised on the shore of Lake Michigan and often appearing on the verge of taking flight.

For views of Windhover Hall from the inside the building, check out these earlier posts:

A recent visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum yielded these wonderful studies in light and shadow.


The curves and lines of this building are endlessly fascinating–seductive, really–and I often find myself more caught up in studying the structure itself than the artwork that I have come to see.




Soooo…did anyone notice I was gone for a bit? I can explain.


At this point in the mind-numbing soul-crushing winter of our disconnect, most of my friends in the upper Midwest have fled to Florida for respite from the Vortex of Doom. Well, not to be outdone by those crazy snowbirds, Wabi Sabi left Wisconsin for a week as well. And what a week it was! Everyday the temps shot skyward, sometimes kissing 20 degrees above zero– nearly 40 degrees warmer than back home!  A thick coating of ice on every surface!

Welcome to New England.

I  felt totally at home in New Hampshire where the state motto is “Live Free or Die.” It sounds so much like “Eat Cheese and Die,” the state motto of Wisconsin. (We only appear to be a happy people. We do have a dark side.)

Now, maybe every night, those Florida folks went to bed and slipped between cool sheets to dream of more margaritas and coconut oil. I will admit that Wabi Sabi didn’t. Wabi Sabi put on her flannel pajamas, crawled under three quilts…and fell asleep with the sweet perfume of brand new baby girl dancing round her head.

Oh, yeah. Welcome to the tribe, Maya.

Interior shots, Milwaukee Art Museum.



Although I have multiple versions of this next shot sans people, a shout-out to the unknown art lover who popped into the frame uninvited. 


More serendipity:


I always think of this final work as the “Don’t Make Me Use My Teacher Voice” piece…


…because I can (and do!) assume this stance in a heartbeat.

These were taken in Windhaver Hall, the glass-ceilinged, 90-foot high central non-gallery space in the Milwaukee Art Museum. I’m shooting up into that glass ceiling, catching the wings of the soleil in some of the shots.

I left the first picture in color in order to give you some feeling for the beauty of the space as you would experience it in person.

The next three pictures were converted to black and white. I’m interested in the lines and angles and the whole geometry of that setting and the black and white format eliminates any distractions.

As long as I’m on the business of converting my pictures to black and white, this seems like a good time to mention that I really don’t manipulate my images, as in “Hey! You photoshopped that Volkswagon into the picture and erased the elderly mime.”  I punch up the color, correct exposure, crop and do the same stuff I would be doing if I was using film. No wild tricks.

You have my solemn word: No mimes are injured in the creation of this blog.

Exterior shots of the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Colatrava  and the centerpiece of the Quadracci Pavilion.  The Burke Brise Soleil is a movable wing-like sunscreen on the top of the Museum. The soleil has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and is breathtakingly gorgeous from any angle. We were there for the closing of the soleil one morning. The movement was so slow and delicate, it was barely perceptible:  an act of pure beauty as it quietly folded in on itself like a huge and mythical bird. 

How, you might ask, did I manage to get such a centered and spot-on shot? Well, it involved climbing inside that little divider (no easy task) and standing there for a few minutes, waiting for folks to walk past me and all the while feeling like an over-sized less-than-bright toddler who had wandered away from the rest of the group and gotten herself hopelessly stuck. Then, with a clear shot mine for the taking, I was forced to yell at some guy who exited the building at precisely the wrong moment. He hurried up–just a little–proving that my teacher voice is no more effective on grown-ups than it is on middle-schoolers.

Bottom edge, about a third of the way from the right side: gull. Did not plan that, but what nice synchronicity.

Oh wait–I must have planned that. I just didn’t realize it at the time.