A new day, a new venue, same old weather. A repeat of cloud and misty rain; spring in the Midwest. But in the writing place I was headed for…. the weather wouldn’t matter.
One enters the Milwaukee Art Museum into the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windover Hall, with its exquisite white marble floor, a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling, and above it the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily. I flashed my membership card and walked directly to the magnificent windows to gaze out over Lake Michigan.
I took a photo of the Harbor House – tres chic restaurant, and then headed over to my office. The Coffee with a Conscious café is just off of the hall, so from my desk, I could see the hall, out the windows next to me, or I could look at the Chihuly sculpture, which is one of my favorite pieces in the museum.
Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941)
Isola di San Giacomo in Palude Chandelier II, 2000
I arrived just a little after 10:00 and was the only customer in the café. The latte was very tasty. The bakery, from a variety of bakers and restaurants in the city, looked wonderful. I resisted! This is probably the most international scene in Milwaukee, and I heard many different languages.
It was a productive morning of writing. There was a soft hum of conversation in the café and in the hall, but it wasn’t distracting. As it got crowded around lunchtime, I gave up my table to ravenous-looking art lovers. I strolled through the long hallway of the Quadracci Pavilion to the gallery space of the main collections. My favorite spot is on the third floor, which hosts the Bradley Collection, containing important European and American painting, prints, watercolors, and sculpture from the late 19th century to the early 1970s. Works their include Fauve paintings by Georges Braque and Maurice de Vlaminck, Expressionist paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Vassily Kandinsky, works by Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti, and a handsome collection by another one of my favorites, Georgia O’Keefe. There is a room at the corner of this floor with comfortable chairs and a magnificent view.
No pens allowed in the museum, so it was fortunate my writing instrument of choice is a pencil. There I sat for a good long while, taking notes about my morning, and trying not to get caught up in the meditation of the view.
Many positives for this venue: free wifi, good coffee, wonderful views, comfortable seating. What more could a writer ask for? The only tick against, once again, was parking. The meter I plugged ate my money and didn’t give me any time. I was very pleased to find there was no ticket flapping under the windshield when I went back to retrieve my car. In the summer, I could ride my bike there, or park a bit down the lakefront and walk back. There is an option for members to park in the garage below the museum, five passes for $25. Not a bad deal. Either way, I will definitely go back, not only for the art, but for my desk! And I continue to ponder, does the muse “make the contact, [do I] become the conduit, or [do I simply] engage in this mysterious process?”