For Your Inspiration: The Milwaukee Art Museum

March 4, 2011
The Milwaukee Art Museum is, I believe, one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.
It sits ready to sail on the shore of lake Michigan. The temperatures in February were below zero and the water was frozen inside the breakwater and a deep blue beyond it.
The sky was an unbroken expanse of blue and the moon was still full at mid morning.

It was worth braving the cold to experience the almost imperceptible movement as the Burke Brise Soleil  folds its graceful wings over the museum’s Quadracci Pavilion.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has built a number of light filled spaces and soaring structures that take you on a journey that lifts the soul and fascinates you with patterns of line and shadow and sky.

Experiencing a structure that lets you take part in the natural environment rather than isolating you from it can be something of a spiritual experience.

Creating beauty in the built world, a space for art and people and nature to live together is something worth striving for. I am truly grateful that there are people willing to work to create and make possible such environments. I think being in such a place lifts us toward our better selves.
The interior of the Quadracci Pavilion is as beautiful as the exterior. Here resides a fantastically playful work by Robert Therrien that perfectly fits and plays counterpoint to the grand scale of the space. Yes, look at the person, I’d barley have to tip my head to walk right under those chairs. I reeeeeally wanted to climb up onto one.
The sense of progression as one moves along the side galleries is rhythmic and orderly, yet the eye is continually drawn up and along. I feel the presence of soaring flying buttresses in a gothic cathedral but without the weight, the heavy (albeit sometimes sheltering effect) that I feel in many cathedrals. 
Here I feel lifted – as though I’m ready to fly with the birds, with my own graceful wings. To sail effortlessly through the blue.
It has me thinking – what work of art would I create for such a space? What work of art would you create?

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  • Reply
    March 6, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Hi Karen – it was a last minute decision to spend my free half day up there rather than at the Art Institute in Chicago. I was teaching at the Riverwalk Quilt Guild in Naperville. I'd LOVE to come up to Milwaukee again – do you have a guild? Is there a program chairperson I could contact?

    I'd love to meet you.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    When were you in Milwaukee? Why were you in Milwaukee? I wish I would have know and I would have bought you a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to say thanks for giving me soooo much inspiration!

    The museum really is a fantastic place Each time I go I take more and more interior photos. The light is always changing and the shadows….

  • Reply
    March 5, 2011 at 7:08 am

    What a beautiful building. It does make one want to spread one's wings and try to fly. I think one of your violin with angel wing pieces would look beautiful in there. I would love to try and do something with sheer organzas so that you would still see the architecture through the artwork. Thanks, Lyric

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