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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pfister Artist Katie Musolff

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In 2004, Milwaukee’s Katie Musolff graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) with a BFA in painting. Today, Musolff is making quite a name for herself. Speaking of her name, the young, well-known portrait artist jokes that all of the tall letters come at the end of her last name, and it’s pronounced moose-off.She smiles, explaining that this is like anti-moose spray, which hints at the time Musolff spends in Stoddard, Wis., a rural river town near La Crosse where she paints fish, mayflies and landscapes along with the people she meets there. The award-winning Musolff recently added another honor to her résumé: 2010 Pfister artist in residence. Beginning in April, Musolff will move her canvases, easels and oil paints into the Pfister Hotel for a one-year studio residency that she discusses with anticipation.

How will being the new Pfister artist in residence affect your time on the river?

This will change a little, but I’ll still spend time on the river and in Milwaukee—now more time at the Pfister studio. The river is very valuable for my art experience and how my career has grown since I’ve been there. My universe has been expanded. In the Pfister studio I hope to show seasonal paintings from the river and nature on the small wall. People and guests will be coming from outside Wisconsin. I want to remind them, while they’re in this very nice hotel, there’s more to Wisconsin than the city.

How will you incorporate your signature portrait paintings into the residency?

When I’m at the Pfister, I’ll begin my “Pfister Project.” I would make at least four to six paintings of people who work there, in the tradition of painting everyday people. I don’t want to be a court painter. I want to paint the people who make the hotel what it is—the mechanics of the Pfister, the people who make the hotel work. They actually have a number of people who have been there over 25 years and have a 25-year club.

What excites you about these Pfister portraits?

When I paint portraits I’m talking to the people all the time while I paint. Portrait painting is taking the time to be with people, listening to them, because they matter. Think of all the things I can learn about the Pfister painting the people there—every ghost story, every hidden space, every person who has been there over the years. People can be much more interesting than they let on.

What other plans do you have for this year as artist in residence?

I see the Pfister residency as a lot of challenges, and they give you a wide public platform for your work. You even have the opportunity to curate shows. I do hope to educate people about Wisconsin. I want to explore all that is part of the Pfister.

Contact Katie Musolff at www.katiemusolff.com or Milwaukee’s Elaine Erickson Gallery.