The Pfister Hotel Press Coverage

Shelby Keefe Bids Adieu to the Pfister

March 28, 2012 | Mary Louise Schumacher | Original Article

There was something extremely satisfying about going from a late afternoon meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission at City Hall to the farewell gathering for Pfister Hotel artist in residence Shelby Keefe on Tuesday.

After listening to preservationists speak, often eloquently, on behalf of our historic built environment, convincing Ald. Terry Witkowski that slowing down the process for altering a 30-year-old preservation ordinance to make room for additional public debate was a good idea, I was treated to Keefe’s view of Milwaukee during her residency year. (Here is business reporter Tom Daykin’s news story about the meeting).

Keefe, who is known for her colorful urban landscapes, is especially drawn to the historic texture of our city. Many of the paintings that she’s done in her Pfister studio, adjacent to the lobby, crammed the walls of the space and were propped up against the wall.

Keefe is the kind of artist who is easy to take for granted. She is a constant presence in our art scene, and she makes what she does look so easy. The significant output from her residency will remain on view at the Pfister through the end of the week. She moves out on Saturday.

Keefe shared some of her experiences at last night’s reception.

“There are so many experiences that I would love to share, like when Tony Bennett came into my studio and said ‘Wow i really like your work,” and I’m like ‘Really?'”

Later, someone told her that Bennett had praised her work during a concert. “Holy Cow!” she said.

She also talked about how much she enjoyed painting local arts groups for a project for the United Performing Arts Fund.

“Man, that was a real fun project,” she said. “That really got me painting people.”

In the end, Keefe knew that she needed to leave the Pfister with an important painting, what the hotel calls a “legacy piece.” At the end of the night, she unveiled a gorgeous Milwaukee streetscape that will become part of the hotel’s permanent collection.

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