Remembering Marion Coffey
Tory Folliard with Christine Anderson on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 9:00:00 am Comments (1)
Drawing inside the lines of a coloring book was not an option for Marion Coffey’s young children. She encouraged them to color outside the lines and not be confined by preconceived boundaries. According to her daughter, Coffey lived her life this way each day.
Wisconsin’s beloved artist, Marion Coffey, passed away in December at the age of 87. Throughout her long career, Coffey celebrated the beauty in everything she painted. She found joy in capturing the flowers in her garden, the interiors of her daughter’s home and the gorgeous vistas from her travels. It took many years of keen observation and experimenting to arrive at the bold, expressive style that characterizes her painting. Her style was her own — daring in color and young in spirit.
Born in Milwaukee, Coffey studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Fontainebleau School of Art in France. Early in her career she worked as a commercial illustrator. Influenced by the 19th and 20th century French artists, Vlaminck, Matisse and the Fauves, Coffey became less interested in realistic depictions and began painting with vibrant colors and expressive brush strokes. During the last two decades she developed a composition of large interlocking shapes reminiscent of one her favorite painters, Gabriele Münter, the 20th century German artist.
Tiny drawings filled her sketch book and were the foundation of her art. Coffey painted in all sizes but favored large scale. She sketched constantly during her travels bringing back many ideas for future work. Coffey enjoyed working on handmade paper, which added depth and texture to the painting surface. A prolific artist, she produced hundreds of paintings and prints.
In recent years, Coffey’s art focused on her travels to the British Isles, South of France, Spain, Tuscany, Kenya and Tanzania, and her hometown, Milwaukee. Her fans were many, and the gallery shows sold out quickly.
Coffey’s paintings take us on a colorful journey, capturing the essence of her subject, whether it is a vase of flowers, the brilliant patterns of African warrior robes, or the Milwaukee skyline. Working until the day she died, Coffey’s art embodies a spirit that remains forever young.
Tory Folliard, owner of Tory Folliard Gallery located in the Historic Third Ward, represented Marion Coffey for the last 20 years.
As chefs mingle, foodies benefit
Kyle Cherek on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
There is a new era of conviviality among some of Milwaukee’s better know and awarded chefs. This charms me, to say the least. It was just a few years ago that I was sitting at the lounge bar of Hinterland finishing up something rustic and gamey, drinking beer, and talking to a newly minted acquaintance, a chef at one of downtown Milwaukee’s much-lauded restaurants.
I remember being in a great mood. The weather was still Vespa-friendly; I had just had a great meal. “Wisconsin Foodie” was in its second season, and those involved in the show were feeling sanguine about the local food scene and what we might be doing to contribute to it.
At every turn, there seemed to be yet another talented chef that had decided to stay in Milwaukee or, better yet, had headed out on a kick-ass culinary sojourn and then returned. So I turned to the chef and asked where local chefs hung out together, where did they drink and laugh, tell true kitchen stories, steal talent from each other, and share secrets? “We don’t,” he replied flatly, “I don’t know anybody who does that.”
I was surprised and dejected by this. Anthony Bourdain had just done a show about a secret place in New York where only chefs can go to for meals and drinks, where they can be themselves and mix like so many good bacteria in a Petri dish. The result was a better citywide restaurant scene.
It seemed obvious to me that, given a city of decent size, all chefs would want to do that. The more they mingled, the better the quality of their cooking. I briefly wondered if I was a bit too idealistic, since I was kind of newbie to this whole foodie thing. My doubt was dispelled when I thought about the number of smart, affable chefs I had met, all with “like it here better than anywhere” attitudes. They were predisposed to great ingredients, which were locally available. How could these minds not meet, drink together, and kibitz? Was Milwaukee so small a town that chumminess impeded a separate space for a chef club? Or was it just a bit too big, with everyone cooking within individual bubbles?
On the Vespa ride home that night, I ran all that through my heart first, and then my head, and, as I put my key in the door, felt a bit like Mick at the really scary part of “Gimme Shelter,” as he shouts out to the roiling crowd, “Everybody be cool! Can’t we all get along?” The good news is the crowd has loosened up and come back around, and is even currently swaying together to something like “Far Away Eyes.” I first noticed this phenomenon at a dinner featuring Wisconsin cheese at La Merenda, this past spring. “Wisconsin Foodie” was filming an evening of brilliant courses by local Milwaukee chefs, which were paired with renowned Wisconsin cheeses. The menu was full of unexpected culinary surprises. At times it seemed as if the Dadaists had come back and decided to cook, but it all worked splendidly, underscoring the caliber of local talent that we have.
La Merenda’s owner/chef Peter Sandroni has always played well with others. I observed him and few of the other talents cooking at that dinner working together in fields, barns, tents via-a-vis chef David Swanson’s Braise On The Go Traveling Culinary School. A good thing to be sure, but I knew these men and women to all be drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid of Swanson’s RSA, establishing the crew that night in La Merenda’s kitchen as friends. The stage is set, I thought, but no more than it has ever been.
The tipping point for me was mid-December at, of all places, Hinterland. I had the perfect 45-degree angle to view into the kitchen as nine Milwaukee and two Chicago chefs prepped, assisted, plated, garnished for each other and observed their colleagues’ work in admiration. This was a pop-up dinner, as the trend goes, but it was the first event I know of where that number of premier Milwaukee chefs took turns as only the finest most self-possessed musicians, can, essentially jamming in front of each other for the benefit of each other and for the audience too. None of them was doing it to show the others up, or put any others down. The courses were terrific, many stellar, and the lion’s share of the ingredients came from local farms regularly used by the chefs.
Equally impressive was the vibe in the dining room post-meal, when the chefs came out for a round of applause and then a drink. They entered the room as one and were received accordingly. It suddenly hit me that I had found my Petri dish. The same chef who had stated to me two years earlier that chefs never hang out was now standing about 50 feet from where he had broken my idealistic heart, laughing with a cadre of the others. I drove the Vespa home, I cued up “Lovin Cup” from “Exile on Main Street,” and I felt better.
That dinner, as it turns out, has served as an icebreaker for this kind of thing.
A similar evening will be presented at Hinterland this coming February by microbrewery enthusiast John Lavelle. Five courses will highlight what he considers some of our best local breweries and our best local chefs. He is calling it “The Best Of Milwaukee Beer Dinner: The First of Five.” The following four will be presented across 2012. The first will have courses from the chefs of The Rumpus Room, Hinterland, Tess, Sanford and Roots.
This may all sound like a Milwaukee culinary kumbayah circle, but here is why it’s cool.
Inviting someone over to your house and sharing a meal is indicative of a relationship that is deepening. Similarly, when a chef and restaurant unselfishly invite other chefs to cook in their space, mess things up, screw with the line stations, etc., and the other chefs agrees to come in, pull off their dishes, absent a lot of the tools they are accustomed to working with in their kitchens, simply because they are all are so different, that mishigas, is a very good thing. A better analogy might be going camping with someone. You’ve got what you brought, you’ve got each other, there will be bonding of some sort or another.
And it continues. In early February, a nice chunk of Milwaukee’s chefs will be coming together at the Iron Horse Hotel in a culinary music mash-up called SoundBites to benefit 88.9 Radio Milwaukee. Chefs will basically take over the Iron Horse on all three floors, creating amazing signature small plates, while the DJs spin “sonic pairings” to go with the dishes.
Because I was involved in pulling this event together, I was able to see firsthand how close many of the chefs really were. When asked to participate in the event, the resounding response of the chefs and restaurants on my short-list was essentially, “Who else is going to be there? Oh, those guys! We love those guys! We’re in!”
Another chance to experience this sort of thing happens in April at the Intercontinental Hotel with SloPig, an amazing porcine wonder of an event exported from Madison in celebration of properly raised, tasty pigs. Madison chefs have been known to be exceptionally convivial for some time. (Except when they are not, in which case you get a bar fight.)
Maybe all this newfound culinary camaraderie is due to the warming trend our winter seems to be having, with people emerging more readily. Maybe, with the spate of new restaurant openings slowing post-2008, the recession resulted in the city’s kitchens needing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Who knows? I have never spent a 14-hour day in a demanding kitchen; I have never argued over ingredients and menu choices; I have never done a three-month learning trip to Italy, only to return and have a couple send back their plates because “this doesn’t taste right — it’s just not very Italian.” (As happened to one of Wisconsin’s most famous native-born exports, while he was cooking in a Wauwatosa ristorante.) Maybe all of that makes one less likely to mix with your profession’s own at the end of the day.
For the past few years, I have had the unique advantage of standing just outside the bubble and observe as the solidarity of Milwaukee’s gastronomic scene as it has grown. I have gotten to know many of these talented women and men firsthand. In my mind, they are all in one place, a sort of “knights of the round table” of cooks for my city. Why should they have drinks, laugh and talk with each other, instead of simply doing the great things in their own kitchens, which I have come to enjoy so much? Perhaps all of this mixing is just a moment in time, a brief shining moment, the quintessential “Camelot” moment for Milwaukee’s culinary scene. Still, I’m glad the mixing is going on.
BY JORDAN DECHAMBRE AND JENNA KASHOU on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
There is something romantic about specialty paper.
The whimsy of delicate embellishments, bold patterns and texture are enough to make me giddy.
Monograham paper boutique (719 Genesee St., Delafield) is just that — a purveyor of romance, whimsy and giddy fun. If it has to do with paper, they have it — stationary, journals, calendars, guest books, albums, gift-wrap, greeting cards, and unique gifts for men, women and children. Styles range from contemporary and comical to traditional and elegant.
They’ve been open for about a year in the heart of the equally charming downtown Delafield. But Monograham’s owner, designer Amy Graham Stigler, has been in the business for about 20 years. She is also the creative director of Smock, an internationally renowned paper and invitation company. Stigler’s designs have been featured in “O” and “Martha Stewart Living” and “InStyle” magazines.
Monograham is one of the few stores in the area that specializes in the old-fashioned printing technique letterpress. There is a dedicated salon to consult with designers and create custom wedding invitations, stationary, Christmas cards and more. The prices are higher than regular printing, but the results are incredibly elegant and unique.
The bottom line: If you’re going to pay $4 for a greeting card at Target, why not give something truly original (and support a local business) instead? Find it and more at Monograham.
For more information, visit www.monograhampaper.com.
The Fashion Year in Review
Jenna Kashou and Jordan Dechambre on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
2011 was not the best year for local retailers. While we saw the sad departures of Valentina, Falcon, Lorena Sarbu and Miss Groove (and Detour and Aala Reed near the end of 2010), a few places — Zita, Stephanie Horne and Boutique Larrieux — opted to swap locations in hopes of more foot traffic.
Luckily, we did see a few great additions to the shopping scene in Milwaukee:
• The owner of Gossip, Mequon and Milwaukee, opened a men’s store called Spoke at The Shops of East Town Square (1505 W. Mequon Road). Look for Penguin, Ben Sherman and more hip yet casually elegant brands at the men’s lounge/shop.
• Speaking of Gossip, the hip women’s shop opened a second location on Downer Avenue this year, right next to Olive Fine Organic Living, which moved to the trendy ave from Mequon in 2011.
• Project M Boutique, featuring local, handmade apparel and accessories, moved from Riverwest to the corner of Oakland and North Avenue on the East Side. Blink and you’ll miss it; the tiny shop is situated right next to The Eastsider.
• H&M opened its third Milwaukee location at Southridge Mall last spring. It’s easily the best selection of the three Milwaukee locations.
• Picardy Shoe Parlour reopened in its original location on Port Washington Road in Mequon at the end of 2011 after a fire wiped out the location in 2010. The new space is light, airy — and bursting at the seams with to-die-for footwear, accessories (Alexis Bittar, anyone?) and designer clothing.
• The go-to spot for men’s suits on the west side, Suiters, closed its doors this year, only to reopen later under the leadership of former Suiters manager David Matsudaira, as Squire. Look for it in Brookfield Towne Centre, near Sendik’s.
• As mentioned above, Zita moved from its flagship location in Whitefish Bay this year to Jefferson Avenue in Milwaukee, right next to George Watts & Son. The space is a breath of fresh air, with all the elegance a bridal salon should exude. Also, look for jeweler David Liska’s jewelry case, which features high-end pieces, as well as affordable costume jewelry for your big day.
• Boutique B’Lou also was on the move this year, closing its original Elm Grove location and opening a new shop in Wauwatosa on North Avenue. Its other locations remain in Shorewood, Delafield and The Pfister Hotel.
In case you missed these stories in 2011, here are some things to look forward to in 2012:
• Lulu Lemon is converting its current space at 322 N. Water St. in the Third Ward from a showroom to a full store. What does that mean for you? Lots more space for all the latest apparel and your downward dogs at free, in-store Saturday morning yoga sessions. You can still shop during the renovations; just enter around the back from Buffalo Street.
• Bangles & Bags, the handbag, jewelry and accessory boutique, will open its fifth store in downtown Wauwatosa (1504 Underwood Ave.) in March. Other shops are in Delafield, downtown Waukesha and the Third Ward.
• Rumor has it the proposed Burleigh Triangle project in Wauwatosa could bring the first Nordstrom Rack and The Container Store to Milwaukee, though the developer will not comment on any tenants. The preliminary proposal has been accepted and owners of the site hope to break ground in mid-2012.
Plus, we’ve got a few hot sales tips:
• Check out Molloy’s (333 W. Brown Deer Road) annual “Alarm Clock” sale this Saturday. Enjoy further discounts throughout the day on sale merchandise that is already 50 to 70 percent off. From 8 to 9 a.m., take an additional 50 percent off the sale price, from 9 to 10 a.m. take an additional 30 percent off and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. take 25 percent off.
• The twice yearly Lela Brown Bag Sale is Saturday, Jan. 7, as well. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., take 50 percent off everything in the store. Plus, check out the fab consignment area, where M Fashion Editor Jordan Dechambre consigns her wardrobe and accessories.
• Trunk show alert! Boutique B’Lou is now carrying jewelry by Lynne Curtin, who you may remember from The Real Housewives of Orange County. Stop by the trunk show at B’Lou’s Pfister Hotel location Jan. 7-8 to be the first to view or purchase the eclectic cuffs, necklaces, earrings and more.
Gallery Night Primer
Tory Folliard with Christine Anderson on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
For those interested in a winter art expedition — or for those who just like catching up with old friends — Gallery Night and Day on January 20 & 21 is the perfect time to do both. It is a social event for art aficionados of all ages and types, from serious collectors to novices, artists, families, hipsters, students and the curious. It is a great opportunity to get acquainted with Milwaukee’s diverse art scene in a variety of neighborhoods, including Walker’s Point, the historic Third Ward, East Town and points farther north.
Gallery Night and Day is a citywide event in which participants exhibit art and invite the public to visit during a two-day period. The event is free to the public and held quarterly (January, April, July and October). The Historic Third Ward Association, which administers Gallery Night and Day, publishes a free brochure in advance as well as a website with participants, parking and transportation information. In January, expect to see more than 40 venues, including art galleries, museums, universities, hotels, community centers, churches, boutiques, salons and restaurants, as well as dozens of ‘unofficial” venues participating in the event.
Since there are many venues, deciding where to visit can be a difficult choice. To find established art galleries with a roster of well-known artists, visit the Milwaukee Art Dealers Association galleries. Comprised of 12 commercial and nonprofit galleries, the shows are often planned a year in advance and feature some of their best artists. Usually the artists are in attendance, and there is plenty of quality art available for purchase. Be sure to visit the MADA’s nonprofit venues such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, Walkers Point Center for the Arts, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Cardinal Stritch University and the Haggerty Museum of Art, all of which mount ambitious exhibits that are generally educational. After Gallery Night and Day, the MADA galleries’ exhibitions continue, so be sure to go back for another visit without the crowds.
If your interest is emerging artists, try the Hide House in Bay View and the Marshall Building in the Third Ward, where you will find small galleries and artists’ studios. The artist criteria for shows at these venues vary by location, and the exhibits may be temporary. Other venues to consider are the Green Gallery on Farwell Avenue for conceptual art and the Sky High Gallery in Bay View for contemporary crafts.
The Third Ward, East Town and Bay View have the greatest concentration of art venues and restaurants. Since January weather can be challenging, it may be a good idea to narrow your choices to one neighborhood at a time. For those who have seen it all, check out the annual “Sculptures on Ice” in Catalano Square in the Third Ward, where sculptors shape blocks of ice according to a theme.
Gallery Night (Friday) is great for people-watching and Gallery Day (Saturday) is a wonderful time to actually get close to the art and have a conversation with the gallery owners in a less crowed situation. Refreshments are not normally served by the participants, so consider making dinner reservations in advance.
No matter what your taste in art, Gallery Night and Day has something interesting to offer. Bundle up and venture out for this very social art happening.
Tory Folliard is the owner of Tory Folliard Gallery located in the Historic Third Ward. Established in 1988, the gallery features contemporary art by regional and national artists. Folliard is the co-president of the Milwaukee Art Dealers Association.