Thursday, June 22, 2017

“Secret Sculpture Garden” opens at Milwaukee Hilton

Joel Pfeiffer’s steel and glass “Walk of Wonder” is inaugural exhibit

Milwaukee’s newest art venue, the Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel, inaugurated a sculpture garden with a gala opening last night. The “secret” must refer to how hard the garden is to find without asking (if you haven’t been there before.) It certainly isn’t being kept a secret. The publicity for the show brought out a host of visitors. I arrived early and it was already crowded.

Perhaps the secret is why it took so long for the Hilton to capitalize on such a wonderful space to showcase sculpture.

The monumental steel and glass works by Hartland sculptor Joel Pfeiffer are perfectly suited to the formal garden. Rigorously geometric polished steel forms are accented with similarly geometric glass. For me, the “Walk of Wonder” in the show title was most evoked when the bright evening sun shone through the swirling glass patterns.

Pfeiffer is not new to sculpture on a monumental scale. His 9’x38’ ceramic “peace mural” hangs in the D concourse of Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport. That fruit of an international goodwill “clay stomp” involving thousands of people and 6 tons of clay has a twin in St. Petersburg, Russia. The auspicious year of its creation was 1989.

Long known for his ceramic art and over 80 of his collaborative clay stomps, Pfeiffer has more recently turned to glass making. All of the sculptures in the “Walk of Wonder” were made within the past three years, he told me.

Joel Pfeiffer
I hope this will be the first of so many sculpture shows at the Hilton that it won’t feel like a “secret” garden for long.

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