Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee’


Posted: May 14, 2013 in Details, Photography, Reflections, Water, Wisconsin

Currently,  one of my faves.  Exposure corrected and cropped. That’s it.  A perfect storm of lighting, quiet water and incredible colors.

riverwalk relfect

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Ahhhh….who says you always need techno-flash in the classroom? Today, the “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” performed  in the original Old English–from memory,  no less!– was a home run.  That was hours ago and I’m still grinning. I wish you could have been there. (I don’t often recite the Canterbury Tales, but when I do…)

A few posts ago , I gave you the Blatz family crypt, located in Milwaukee’s Forest Home Cemetery.  Forest Home is the final resting place for countless Wisconsin governors, politicians, historians, writers, entrepreneurs and just plain folks.  Now, in the interest of completeness, I have the monuments or markers for the other Beer Barons, most of whom are buried within sight of each other.

Okay…wait a minute. With all these governors and newspaper moguls and inventors lying about, I chose Beer Barons?

Discuss among yourselves.

Most of the rest of the gang can be found across the road from the Blatz crypt.  Adolph Krug  and  his nephew, August Uihlein, are buried  there. Krug founded what later became the Schlitz brewery; upon Joseph Schlitz’s death, Augustus Uihlein took over the business.

The Joseph Schlitz monument is grander than Krug’s or Uihlein’s.The ship at the base of the monument tells us that Schlitz was actually lost at sea in 1875, but the lack of an actual  body is a minor point.

Ahhhh….Captain Frederick Pabst, brewing magnate extrordinaire and the man who made it possible for me to say “PBR me, Bartender” for four sudsy undergraduate years:

The Pabst memorial seems to have fallen on hard times. The whole thing feels like a frat house the morning after a major kegger. ( A few marble empties to complete the scene…)

Finally, in a whole different part of the cemetery, the marker for the Jacob Best family. I found this one to be quite disappointing. Someone decided to do an upgrade and it just doesn’t work: way too slick and modern, though it is chock full o’ facts and does tie things back to the Pabst family.

And so, gentle reader, thus endeth our ramble.   No more history for a while–I promise.

 A couple of weeks ago, we visited the Forest Home Cemetery on Milwaukee’s south side. The cemetery is located in the neighborhood called “Lincoln Village” and is a magnificent oasis of quiet and dignity in the middle of a high-energy part of the city. Honestly:  even the squirrels on-site were moving with a certain gravitas.

Of course, that made the woman carrying a camera and trying to scale the sides of large grave-markers really stand out.

Awkward moment, when even the squirrels view you with small squirrelly sneers. 

Originally, I’d intended to do a piece on all the Beer Barons of Milwaukee who are buried at Forest Home, but the Blatz Family crypt is such an incredible structure that I felt it deserved its own chapter. I’ll get to the rest of the crowd–Pabst, Schlitz and Jacob Best– in another post.

I went to the cemetery as a photographer, not as an historian, so if you are anxious for floor plans or an accounting of all those who slumber within the Blatz crypt…can’t help you there.  I can tell you that this is the final resting place of one Valentin Blatz (1826-1894), Bavarian immigrant and founder of the Blatz Brewery. 

Blatz Family Crypt

Welcome to Heaven!

My friend, Anne, has a mom who is in her 80’s and a lifetime fan of Blatz beer.  Anne says that she’s pretty sure that her mom’s vision of the Gates of Heaven might look a lot like the shot above.

Detail: Blatz crypt arch

I’ll admit it: my English-major self did a few riffs on Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

Details, rear of Blatz crypt

Did I mention the whole beautiful thing? Color, line, angles,  textures–as a photographer, it was difficult to move myself past this one monument.

One final detail:  the serious chain and lock securing the gate at the entrance to the crypt.

Detail: Blatz crypt entrance

 Still to come: Pabst, Schlitz, Jacob Best, Krug and Uhlhein and the rest of the Beer Barons.

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.

A few years ago, I ran across an online portfolio of Italian funerary art that was just breathtaking. Much to my dismay, this artistic experience could not be replicated locally.  Discounting Jesus, his mom, a few stray lambs and/or the random saint,  the cemetaries of Green Bay contain only a handful of statues.

This week, a two-hour visit to one of Milwaukee’s oldest cemeteries yielded enough material to keep me going for a while.

The day was absolutely perfect for shooting outdoors: gray and overcast, little wind and just-right temps. No glare, no shadows. And, despite its location smack-dab in the middle of a high-energy urban neighborhood, the cemetery was virtually deserted for the two hours we were there.

Originally, I simply wanted to capture the beauty of the figures: tilt of the head, a graceful pose, hands that rested quietly on a book or a wreath. I hadn’t been considering the art within its context. I don’t speak the language of Thanatos ( ummmm…would that be necropolitan?), but  I am sure that if I did, I’d discover that all of these memorials are chattering loudly, using  books, gestures or  downcast eyes to make their points.

I plan to listen more carefully.

Coming up: Milwaukee Beer Barons and their graves, with a Sausage King thrown in for balance.