Pfister Artist and Residence

Tools

by Jennifer Tomazic

MILWAUKEE -- New art is poping up at the Pfister Hotel and its the kind you'll want to try on for size.

Timothy Westbrook is the newest Artist in Residence at the historic hotel and he's weaving new life into it.

"I will be making Victorian style ball gowns out of cassett tapes," said Westbrook.

He'll be employed with the hotel for a year and has a goal of creating seven dresses that chronical the journey of women through the ages.

Westbrook is the fourth Pfister Artist in Residence and the first to not be a painter and come from out ot state. He hails from Upstate New York.

His workspace is right off the hotel lobby and he encourages guests to get very intimate with his creations. Westbrook even puts up a sign that says "Please Touch."

"They're contributing so much to the energy that i'm feeling about the piece," said Westbrook. He says he's constantly having conversations that help him grow as a performance fiber artist.

"There are so many great artist in Milwaukee, the region, and the country and we look forward to continuing to grow the program," said Joe Kurth, Pfister General Manager.

The hotel has collected a lot of Victorian art during it's 118 years in existence and so creating the artist in residence program just made sense.

"It can personalize your engagement with the art," said Kurth. "Here, the artist can show you what they're working on and also give you a perspective of the Pfister's great collection."

Each artist in residence adds to that collection: they each leave a piece for the hotel to display. The past three artists left paintings inspired by the hotel and previous artists.

"I like that idea," said Westbrook. "I'm thinking about making a dress referred to as Ms. Pfister. It'll be inspired by the painting and the hotel and maybe the original Mrs. Pfister."

Westbrook hasn't taken a day off in his first month in the program and has already finished two pieces.

"I'm afraid of not being here all the time because I don't want to miss all the wonderful stories that come in. It is amazing!" said Westbrook.

A panel of local artists chose Westbrook out six finalists.

"Timothy came in with a different vision and the ability to take the journey of women over the last 100 years and express it through the fiber arts," said Kurth.

He just graduated college last year and says he could see himself living in Milwaukee past his residency at the Pfister.

"I'm exciting to be sharing that passion and see who who is as excited as I am," said Westbrook.

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