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Video, photos & interviews: Acclaimed Oklahoma artist Mike Wimmer working on new project as Skirvin artist in residence

The Skirvin Hotel’s fifth artist-in-residence, Mike Wimmer, was featured in The Oklahoman as he describes his plans for his new portrait series. Learn more about the nationally recognized painter and illustrator here.


Milwaukee’s Best Hotel Bar, 2017

“Bar Month” at OnMilwaukee is back for another round. The whole month of March, we’re serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars readers poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Blu at The Pfister

Readers named Blu in The Pfister Hotel as their favorite hotel bar, edging out County Clare for the first time in years.

Blu boasts a breathtaking view of the eastern-end of Downtown and the lake – which is not surprising from 23 floors up – but the swanky-yet-comfy cocktail lounge also boasts great craft cocktails, plush chairs, live jazz and free snack mixes. Plus, the ladies’ restroom at Blu offers a similarly amazing view to the west.

OnMilwaukee editors’ choice: The Pfister Lobby Lounge


2. The Outsider at the Kimpton
3. County Clare
4. Branded at Iron Horse
5. The Yard at Iron Horse

This year we also asked a variety of prominent Milwaukeeans to weigh in on their pick for specific categories. For this category, we consulted Kyle Cherek of “Wisconsin Foodie.”

I currently like The Outsider best, a rooftop bar at the Kimpton Hotel – where, after a long engagement and a winning game of Connect Four, my wife promised to marry me. The drinks are smart but not too tricky, and the views give me a sense that I might be in another town … one with myriad of hotel bars full of elegance and poise, dramaturge and an ineffable cool. A space in which the comings and goings, the expectations and inferences, disappointments and escapism of our hearts can settle or collide over a drink.

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Ninth Artist-in-Residence Succeeds Pamela Anderson


Milwaukee, Wis., March 1, 2017 – The historic AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel, owned and managed by Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, today announced Margaret Muza as its ninth resident artist. Muza, a Milwaukee-area tintype photographer, will begin working in the hotel’s lobby-level Artist’s Studio for one year beginning April 1, 2017, succeeding current Pfister artist and abstract expressionist painter, Pamela Anderson. For only the second time in the history of the Artist-in-Residence program, Muza was also selected as the winner of the public vote.

“I am thrilled to be chosen as The Pfister Hotel’s ninth Artist in Residence. I plan to transform the studio space into an authentic tintype studio where guests can witness this historic photography process that dates back to the Civil War era,” said Muza. “My love of history made me familiar with tintypes. The beauty of older portraits such as Abraham Lincoln, Fredrick Douglass and others moved me and I fell in love with the process. I am eager to begin interacting with hotel guests and teaching them the inner workings of tintype photography. As part of my work in the studio, I will be able to capture memorable moments as they happen and give guests their own unique tintype portrait only a few minutes after the picture is taken. I look forward to capturing the many faces of guests and associates and telling their story through my work.”


Tintype is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photograph emulsion. Tintype photography became popular during the 1860s, and was commonly made by photographers in booths at open fairs and carnivals, as well as by sidewalk photographers. As the ninth Artist in Residence, Muza will engage guests in the tintype process. Taking only about fifteen minutes from start to finish, Muza mixes a liquid “film” called collodion and pours it directly onto the metal plate which will then sensitize in silver nitrate making it light sensitive. The plate is then loaded onto the back of a large format view camera and exposed for anywhere between one and 15 seconds depending on a few variables. Finally, the plate is developed on site.

As part of her residency, Muza plans to create a book of the images she captures throughout her year as a Legacy Piece for the hotel.

“Margaret’s work truly encompasses what the Pfister hotel symbolizes – timeless elegance and tradition,” said Tim Smith, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “Her tintype photography will document the daily activity and unique moments in time that will serve as memories for years to come. Her photography will also be a nice complement to our guests who find the history of our 120-year old hotel fascinating. We welcome Margaret to our Pfister family and look forward to seeing how her beautiful work will further enhance our personal guest experience.”


Muza was one of six finalists included in a four-week public voting period. In addition to the public vote via Facebook 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 the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and past Pfister artists in residence.


The public vote winner typically receives the opportunity to display his/her work in a solo exhibit at Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, also owned and managed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts. Because Muza was also selected as the winner of the public vote, the public vote runner-up, Ariana Vaeth, a local Milwaukee painter, will receive the honor to showcase her pieces at Gallerie M this year. All finalists from this year and years past will be offered additional opportunities to show their work at future Pfister-sponsored events.


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 ninth 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 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. Additionally, The Pfister’s program has inspired similar residencies at two of its sister properties: The Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City and the Lincoln Marriot Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Neb.

The program’s current artist is Pamela Anderson (2016-2017), Past artists include Todd Mrozinski (2015-2016),; Niki Johnson (2014-2015),; Stephanie Barenz (2013-2014),; Timothy Westbrook (2012-2013),; Shelby Keefe (2011-2012),; Katie Musolff (2010-2011),; and Reginald Baylor (2009-2010),


About Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Marcus Hotels & Resorts owns and/or manages 18 hotels, resorts and other properties in the U.S. The company’s distinctive portfolio includes city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts, historic properties, and premium branded and independent first-class hotels. Marcus Hotels & Resorts is an approved operator for all major lodging brands. A leader in the hospitality industry since 1962, Marcus Hotels & Resorts creates asset value for hotel owners through its expertise in management, development and product repositioning, including hotel food and beverage concepts developed by its Marcus Restaurant Group, including Mason Street Grill, ChopHouse and Miller Time Pub & Grill. The company is also growing its experiential restaurant concept, The SafeHouse, with a Chicago location opening in early 2017. For more information, please visit: and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter (@MarcusHotels).


Madison Magazine: Chef Sean Pharr revamps Hilton Madison’s steakhouse

Milwaukee Magazine featured Chef Sean Pharr and the Capitol ChopHouse in a recent article in their “Best of Madison” issue. Read the full article here.

Madison Magazine Chef Sean Pharr


Get Out & Play! Ideas to Make the Most of Your Winter


Cabin Fever setting in? Feeling a little down from all those overcast days? Cheer up, sunshine! No matter if you enjoy the frigid outdoors or a cozy room with a fireplace, we’ve found some of the best quintessential Midwestern ways to enjoy the snowiest months of the year.

Stay and Play in Lake Geneva

A weekend escape to Wisconsin can be as simple as heading to Lake Geneva and its Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, where you’ll have easy access to 1,300 acres of outdoors activities. The resort features several restaurants, a 20-run ski hill, a spa and salon, an indoor waterpark and several hiking trails.

Special events this winter include Shred Fest, on March 11, when skiers can show off their moves with contests and races at the resort’s The Mountain Top ski slopes.

Stay-and-play packages are available all season, including:

Stay and Ski Free

Lodge at the resort between Sunday and Thursday and ski for free at The Mountain Top. Includes a one-night stay in a deluxe room, two lift tickets and a discount on spa service.

Paint & Sip Package

Enjoy a glass of wine while following a step-by-step painting tutorial. Spend one night in a deluxe guest room and receive two tickets to the painting event.

Waterpark Package

Gain access to Grand Geneva’s sister resort, Moose Mountain Falls at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. The 50,000 square-foot waterpark, located indoors, boasts two gigantic heated waterslides, a lazy river and tropical-style hot tubs. Package includes an overnight stay at Grand Geneva and four waterpark passes.

Nature’s Superheroes

As children around the region celebrate the release of “The Lego Batman Movie,” naturalists at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, in St. Charles, are introducing them to the superhero’s inspiration.

Superheroes of Nature, held on Feb. 24, encourages youngsters and their parents to learn about a few of the humble bat’s true superpowers, including:


These nocturnal critters have their own form of radar to help orient themselves. The bat emits ultrasonic sound that bounces off objects and returns to the bat’s ears.

A Pair of Wings

The only mammal capable of flying, bats have “wings” composed of a membrane that stretches from each hind legs to their claws.

Big Appetites

Bats eat a wide variety of insects and can consume about 3,000 insects in a single night.

* Source: University of Illinois Extension.

* Food and drinks will be served. Advance registration is required.

Quiet Weekend Getaway

Need to get away for a few days? Consider heading to downtown Beloit, Wis., where there’s an urban renaissance in the making.

Stay overnight at the Ironworks Hotel and you’ll get a good feeling for the city’s transformation. This boutique hotel, located downtown, is adorned with rustic chic decor and incorporates actual mechanisms from the factory that once operated across the river. Some of the luxury suites inside come with accents such as fireplaces and soaker tubs. Downstairs is the casual yet classy Merrill & Houston’s Steak Joint, which offers a steakhouse menu and white linen tablecloths, in addition to views of the Rock River.

While you’re exploring downtown, keep in mind that Ironworks Hotel is an easy walk to several attractions, including:

Lucy’s #7 Burger Bar

Stuffed burgers with a distinctly Wisconsin appeal, like the Wisconsinite: a burger stuffed with beer, brats and cheddar, and topped with fried onions.

Beloit College

The private college boasts two museums: the Logan Museum of Anthropology, with artifacts from indigenous cultures, and the Wright Museum of Art, which displays an array of work.

Bushel & Peck’s

This cafe and grocer sells a variety of fresh, local and organic foods. Look for homemade preserves or enjoy sandwiches, soups and breakfast at the cafe.

Beloit International Film Festival

From Feb. 24 through March 5, catch some 100 indie films, most of them shown at venues downtown.

Explore the Animal Kingdom

Exciting things are happening at the Midwest Museum of Natural History, in Sycamore. Long known for its collection of mounted animals, this family-friendly museum is launching several new features this year. The Water World exhibit, open through March, introduces visitors to rare fish and collected specimens from the world’s waterways. Later this year, look out for the new Discovery Den, filled with interactive displays like Babies of the World, which has a sanitized playing floor so infants can enjoy some tummy time with mom and dad.

You’ll also meet a few of these fascinating creatures:

Blue-Tongued Skink

The museum’s downstairs level includes several live critters, most of which are rescued pets. The lizard nicknamed Spartacus is one such rescue, and he loves to show off his signature blue tongue – a flashy warning to would-be predators.

Polar Bear

Upstairs in the mounted collection, this polar bear shows off his many adaptations to the harsh Arctic climate. Did you know, for instance, that he has black skin hiding under all that fur?

African Bull Elephant

Affectionately called Ralph, this elephant is one of only 11 fully mounted elephants in the world, and is the largest in North America. He was 55 years old when he died, and you can see the hardships of life in his skull and tusks, which rest below his mount.

Make Some Maple Syrup

The above-freezing days and below-freezing nights common in late winter start to wake up the trees from their winter dormancy. As their sap begins to flow, our region’s maple trees are ripe for harvesting. Learn about the maple syrup production process every weekend from March 11 to 26, during the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s maple syrup program. Programs run every half-hour from noon to 2 p.m. at Ryerson Woods, in Riverwoods. Reservations are required and large groups are asked to call ahead.

During your hike, you’ll learn about the anatomy of trees, how sap is made and how it’s transformed into syrup.

Identify the Tree

Without their leaves, sugar maples are best identified by their branching pattern and bark. Sugar maples yield more sugar from their sap than other tree species.

Drill a Tap

Using a hand drill, bore into the tree’s xylem, a part of trunk that resembles a series of straws. The xylem delivers sap from the roots to the branches and new buds.

Tap the Tree

Insert a spile into the drilled hole. This small metal spout channels the steadily dripping sap into a bucket. Once the bucket is full, it’s time to make some syrup.

Evaporate the Sap

Sap is mostly water, so it must be boiled for several hours in a process that concentrates and caramelizes the sugars into syrup. About 40 gallons of sap make 1 gallon of syrup.

Family Outing to Granite Peak

Why hibernate with the kids all winter when some of the Midwest’s premier ski slopes are a close drive from home? Granite Peak Ski Area, in Wausau, Wis., provides 75 ski runs, with options for skiers of all ages and skill levels, making it a popular choice for a drive-to family winter vacation. Keep an eye out for these late-winter attractions:

Family Festival Weekends

The most popular events all season, these select events appeal to skiers and snowboarders of all ages, with wagon rides, bonfires, fireworks and ski-and-stay packages. Festivals are held March 3-5 and March 31-April 2.

Spring Break for Families

Designed to fit any school’s spring break schedule, special lodge and lift ticket deals are available to families who want to enjoy some late-season skiing. Throughout March and April, Granite Peak provides petting zoos, scavenger hunts, costume contests for the kids and plenty of other entertainment. More details are online at

Spring Break for College Students

Both affordable and close to home, Granite Peak has several ski-and-stay packages and rentals available for college spring breakers – not to mention a lineup of music and live entertainment. Select hotels offer shuttle services for your group.

Take a Hike at Starved Rock

When the snow and ice settle in, the many miles of hiking trails at Starved Rock State Park, in Oglesby, Ill., lead you through amazing geologic and ice formations. Travel the low lands and explore the park’s 18 canyons, or stick to the high lands and spot bald eagles, which winter along the Illinois River. Or, explore everything on the guided hikes that depart from Starved Rock Lodge every weekend.

LaSalle Canyon

This canyon has one of the most stunning frozen waterfalls inside Starved Rock State Park.

St. Louis Canyon

This canyon is one of the best spots for a photograph.

Starved Rock Lodge

No matter what conditions Mother Nature delivers, hikers can cozy up at the historic Lodge and its Grand Hall fireplace, enjoy a meal at the dining room, or spend a night in the Lodge’s cozy accommodations.

Eagle Cliff

This high vantage point gives hikers a stunning panoramic view of the landscape and bald eagles in flight.

Wildcat Canyon

When conditions are just right, ice climbing is allowed inside the canyon. For the less-adventurous, two observation decks suffice.

Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

Located just across the Illinois River, along Dee Bennett Road, this lookout gives you an up-close view of the eagles and their hunting grounds.

Family Fun in Crystal Lake

No matter what the weather brings, Crystal Lake Park District is planning several indoor events geared toward multigenerational, family-friendly fun, including:

Mom/Son Luau

March 10-11, 6-8 p.m.

Grand Oaks Recreation Center.

For boys age 4-10 and their moms, these two evening dances include games and food, plus lots of dancing. Registration required.

Forts on the Courts

March 18, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Crystal Lake Racket Club.

Your team is given duct tape and cardboard, but it’s up to you to build and decorate your castle. Prizes go to the best design, fan favorite and most original. Registration required.

Ivy Ford Band

Feb. 24, doors open 7 p.m.

Park Place Banquet Facility.

This young Chicago-area musician is making waves on the local blues scene. Tickets: $10 at door. Cash bar available.

First Saturday

@ Colonel Palmer House

March 4, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Celebrate Women’s History Month and learn about Crystal Lake’s trailblazing ladies.

Visit the Nature Center

All season, Veteran Acres Park.

Tour the newly redesigned displays, search for geocached treasures or take a hike around the hilly terrain.

Play Your Luck at Potawatomi Casino

Get away to Milwaukee for a few days and experience Potawatomi Casino, one of the country’s largest tribally owned and operated casinos. Boasting nearly 1.1 million square feet, Potawatomi has a 19-story hotel, thousands of gaming options and endless entertainment. Here’s a sample itinerary to guide you:


Start off with a casual brunch at the Canal Street Cafe, which is all about comfort food. Top it off with a Bloody Mary at Bar360, located in the middle of the gaming floor. Afterward, test your luck at the Nest of Life bingo hall, where snacks are available in smoking or non-smoking sections.


Following lunch at another of the casino’s top-notch restaurants (Italian cuisine or Japanese?), take up a game of poker or play some of the nearly 2,500 slot machines. When you’re warmed up, head to the group gaming options, spread across nearly 100 table games. Certain games have a progressive wager, allowing players to make a side wager in a progressive jackpot.


Head to dinner at the award-winning Dream Dance Steak, which boasts a menu of steaks, seafood and more than 600 complementing wines. Then, head to the intimate Northern Lights Theater. March entertainment includes One Night of Queen and UFO/Saxon, though there’s free nightly entertainment at the Fire Pit Side Bar and Bar360. Wrap up the evening with a new game, like baccarat, before heading to your hotel room upstairs.

Play in the Forest Preserves

The 28 properties maintained by McHenry County Conservation District provide a scenic backdrop for outdoor play this winter. If you enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, you’ll find it in the forest.

Festival of the Sugar Maples

Learn about the history and process of maple sugaring and sap collection on March 4, 5, 11 and 12, at Coral Woods Conservation Area, in Marengo. On your way out, pick up a spile and learn how to tap your own trees.

Evening Hike & Ski

Explore the woods just after dusk with an evening hike or cross-country ski at Pleasant Valley, in Woodstock, and Hickory Grove Highlands, in Cary. Trails are lit by solar lantern and are open until 9 p.m.

Snowshoe Rental

Whenever there’s more than 5 inches of snow, hikers in Glacial Park, in Ringwood, can stop by the Lost Valley Visitor Center to rent a pair of snowshoes. Equipment is available for men, women and children for just $10.

Winter Camping

It’s camping as you’ve never done before. Bring your tent to Thomas Woods, in Marengo, and stay overnight while enjoying the quiet winter woods and access to the trails. Reservations for individuals or groups must be made 10 days in advance.

Family Night

Spend an evening with the family at Glacial Park, where you’ll enjoy games, activities and a night hike, all in search of night critters and their calls.

Challenge the Mountain

Wilmot Mountain is showing off its new face this winter. The beloved ski slope, located on the Wisconsin border near Chain O’Lakes, underwent a $13 million renovation last summer that brought several improvements, including new lifts, a transformed base lodge and new terrain park features. Meals can be found at the new Walt’s Tavern, named for the man who founded Wilmot Mountain in 1938.

Events including the terrain park competition and the Slush Cup end-of-season bash provide extra reasons to visit. And, no matter the weather, crews are armed with 56 new snow guns to keep the hills powdered.

While you’re at Wilmot, be sure to check out these activities:

Terrain Parks

Two expanded terrain parks boast a combined 40 features, with lots of rails, jumps and boxes. Use the new double high-speed rope tows for a quick ascent.

Kids Lessons

Young skiers now have a dedicated place to learn and practice the sport. Sign up the kiddos for full-day lessons, where they’ll be supervised by instructors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Inside the Burton Riglet Park, Wilmot instructors teach the art of snowboarding to kids ages 3 to 6.

Tubing Hill

Jet down Wilmot’s 22 tubing lanes, which stretch for 1,000 feet. Hop on the conveyor belt with your provided tube and do it all over again.

See more here.


Nicole Battelle VanHook is new artist-in-residence at Cornhusker Marriott

The Lincoln Journal Star featured Nicole Battelle VanHook, the new artist-in-residence at The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel. Battelle VanHook is a full-scale paper sculpture artist who is envisioning gorgeous photo shoots throughout the hotel’s elegant space. Learn more about the new artist-in-residence and her unique talents here.


Creative Cocktails to Get You Through the Cold


Heat up your winter with some of these unique cocktails, which can be found only in our region.

Barrel + Rye, Geneva

B+R Old Fashioned

A whiskey signature drink with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Simple Syrup, Angostura bitters and Regan’s Orange Bitters

Da Baffone Cucina Italiana, Crystal Lake

Italian Margarita

Amaretto di Saronno, Tequila, Triple Sec and Sour

Bonus: Try the Bloody Caesar, made with proprietor Camille Giangrande’s own special ingredients.

La Tasca Tapas, Arlington Heights

Cranberry Mojito

Bacardi Limón, fresh lime, mint leaf, sugar, a splash of soda and a touch of Rose’s Cranberry Infusion Twist

Public House of Woodstock, Woodstock

Orange-Cranberry Moscow Mule

Orange vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and ginger beer

Epicure Bistro, Barrington

Epicure Martini

Malibu rum, Bacardi rum, St. Germain liqueur, Crème de Cassis liqueur, griottines

Francesca’s by the River, St. Charles

Salted Caramel Kiss

A mix of salted caramel vodka and Rumchata in a martini glass drizzled with caramel and a melted caramel and sea salt rim

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva

Woodsman Martini

Woodford Reserve Bourbon sweetened with Wisconsin maple syrup, balanced with orange bitters and garnished with a twist

Shakou Sushi, Barrington

Fire & Ice 

Ty Ku jalapeno-infused Soju, mango puree, passion fruit puree, and fresh lime juice finished with a spiced rim


See more here.


‘HotelNewsNow’ Features The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence Program

The Pfister Hotel’s artist-in-residence program was featured in HotelNewsNow. Read about how the Pfister’s artist-in-residence adds to the guest experience here!

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—For the most part, the “artists-in-residence” at The Pfister Hotel, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, don’t actually reside on property; that’s because they’ve been almost entirely locals from the Milwaukee area.

But the artists certainly make themselves at home during their yearlong residency.

In fact, each artist becomes so intimate with the hotel and its art collection—84 works on display, and between 10 and 15 other pieces in vaults—that they give tours to guests.

That highlights a trend at some hotels with artists-in-residence programs: The art is just the first of a few focuses.

“I look at the artists as actually being another associate of the hotel—another sales person, another security guard, another concierge, quite frankly,” The Pfister’s GM Tim Smith said.

“Lots of times, guests will walk into the gallery before they do the lobby of the hotel, and they’ll ask questions. … I have another associate with me for the entire year who can further benefit the customer experience at the hotel,” Smith added. “The artists integrate themselves very easily. They mingle with staff. A lot will do paintings of staff members. It becomes a pretty cool relationship over a 50- to 51-week timeframe.”

02.09.17 There’s more to love at the updated Mason Street Grill

Mason Street Grill’s renovations were showcased in an article by Read about the new updates and the now publicly named, Kawoomph.


Eater Chicago: Accept The Mission & Tour SafeHouse Chicago, Importing Milwaukee’s Legendary Spy Fun

Eater Chicago tours SafeHouse Chicago before restaurant launches its first mission. Get a sneak peek here.

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