The Pfister Hotel News


Home to a collection of more Victorian-style art than any other hotel in the world, the historic Pfister Hotel, which is owned and managed by Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, has hosted a popular Artist-in-Residence program for the past five years. The Pfister’s selection committee has chosen multi-media sculptor Niki Johnson as its sixth resident artist. She will begin working in the hotel’s lobby-level Artist’s Studio beginning April 2014, succeeding current Pfister artist Stephanie Barenz, and will work in the studio for one year.

“I’m thrilled to have been selected as the next artist in residence at The Pfister and can’t wait to get started in the Artist’s Studio,” said Johnson. “The body of artwork I will be creating this year will involve sculpting six child-sized bathtubs out of oil clay, and then casting them in porcelain. Each bathtub will depict heroines from fairytales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.”

Along with the bathtubs, Johnson will create a series of corresponding limited edition commemorative plates; both will depict the stories of Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, Rapunzel, and Thumbelina. Visitors to the studio will watch her build and shape elements for the bathtubs, such as braiding yards of hair for the Rapunzel tub and dying feathers for Snow White. The creation of each porcelain bathtub will involve Johnson’s molding, casting and firing of these artworks in her home studio. She will document these processes with photos, which will be displayed on a TV screen inside the Artist’s Studio to provide guests with a holistic experience of her process.

Over the past three years, Johnson has taught two discussion sections for the Foundations Department in Contemporary Art History at University of Wisconsin—Madison, as well as several classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, including Foundry, Advanced Mold-Making and Casting, 3D Design and 2D Glassworks. She also participates in speaking engagements through the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts and is a blogger for the Huffington Post.

“With each passing year, our Artist-in-Residence Program grows stronger and our applicants even more talented,” said Paul Ohm, general manager of The Pfister. “We can’t wait to see the new dynamic Niki will bring to the program and our guests.”

Johnson was one of six finalists included in a four-week public voting period. In addition to the public vote via Facebook, texting, and in-person ballots, a selection committee, consisting of leaders in the local art community, made the final decision in choosing the next Artist in Residence. This year’s selection committee was comprised of representatives from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Northwestern Mutual, BizStarts Milwaukee, and Haggerty Museum of Art.

The winner of the public vote, Dena Nord, will receive the opportunity to display her work in a solo exhibit at Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, while all finalists from this year and years past will be offered additional opportunities to show their work at future Pfister-sponsored exhibits throughout the Midwest.

For more information on the latest news and updates from Marcus Hotels & Resorts, please visit:

About The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence Program

Entering its sixth year, The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working art studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of each piece first-hand.

Over the past few years, The Pfister has received national attention for its Artist-in-Residence program. Since 2009, the hotel has been a member of the Alliance of Artist Communities,, an international association of artists’ communities and residencies featuring a diverse field of more than 1,000 programs worldwide.

The program’s current artist is Stephanie Barenz (2013-2014), Past artists include Timothy Westbrook (2012-2013),; Shelby Keefe (2011-2012),; Katie Musolff (2010-2011),; and Reginald Baylor (2009-2010),

About The Pfister Hotel

Built in 1893, The Pfister Hotel has been the premier downtown Milwaukee hotel for more than a century, and continues to celebrate a tradition of gracious service and impeccable style; 2013 marked the hotel’s 120th year as an icon in Milwaukee. The Pfister Hotel was purchased in 1962 by Ben Marcus, who vowed to renovate the distinguished hotel to its original beauty. Significant renovations were completed and a new 23-story guest room tower was built. In fall 2012, The Marcus Corporation celebrated its 50th year of ownership of the property.

Home to the largest collection of Victorian art of any hotel in the world, The Pfister is a AAA Four-Diamond property with membership in two of the industry’s leading organizations: Historic Hotels of America and Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The Pfister Hotel is located at 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. More information and updates on the hotel can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter (@PfisterHotel).

About Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE: MCS), owns and/or manages 18 hotels, resorts and other properties in 10 states.  A force in the hospitality industry, Marcus Hotels & Resorts provides expertise in management, development and historic renovations.  The company’s portfolio includes a wide variety of properties including city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts and branded first-class hotels.  For more information on the latest news and updates, please visit: and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter.

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October 2023