Arts – On Wisconsin For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Mon, 04 Feb 2019 21:09:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Consummate Cinematographer Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:41:23 +0000 As an award-winning cinematographer, Peter Deming ’80 made his artistic mark in numerous films while collaborating with the likes of David Lynch, Sam Raimi, and Wes Craven. He recently returned to campus for a screening at UW Cinematheque, where On Wisconsin caught up with him to learn more about where he has been, what got him there, and what’s next.

Why did you choose to attend UW–Madison?

I was a Wisconsin kid. My father was transferred to Beirut [Lebanon] for his job, so my sister and I were both born there, but I primarily grew up in Racine. And if you’re going to go to a state university, Madison was always the choice. …. I had this Egyptian professor in communication arts. His name is Badia Rahman. He was fantastic — very encouraging! He was one of the first to photograph through a beam-splitter, which both transmits and reflects light equally. This enables photography of two live objects simultaneously, which is pretty much the beginning of modern visual effects.

What’s the best thing about cinematography?

It’s a job that is highly creative, highly collaborative, and artistic, but it’s also rooted in technology. It combines all the things needed to create specific worlds for viewers. There are times when you’re on set, and you’re exhausted or conditions are miserable, and that’s when you remind yourself that there aren’t many people who get to do what you do, which is essentially going out every day and spending someone else’s money to put your ideas on the screen.

You’ve worked with a variety of directors. Whom do you best collaborate with?

There is no better job in filmmaking than working with David Lynch. Every day is an adventure. While attending [the UW], I saw Eraserhead for the first time at the Majestic. I was sort of shell-shocked by it, and I’ve been fascinated with David ever since. It’s that experience where you follow someone over the years, whether it’s a filmmaker or musician, and you get to know their work so well that you feel like you know them. Once I got the opportunity to collaborate with David, I felt like I knew his preferences because I had seen everything he had ever done.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a film called Fonzo, which focuses on the last year of Al Capone’s life — his reckoning with his end of days, his life, and his family. … I am looking into directing at some point, but I have also seen what directors go through. It takes an incredible amount of time to get a project going. In my role as a cinematographer, I’m used to going into a job, and I’m in and out in three to six months — sometimes longer, if it’s a bigger film. However, when you direct, it’s two or three years, at least. So I’m weighing that whole part of it, too. I’m definitely looking around; let’s put it that way.

]]> 0
Five Badger Standouts Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:15 +0000 With more than 440,000 living alumni and a top-tier reputation, UW–Madison has no shortage of exceptional graduates. Selecting the superlative among this crowd is no easy task, but the Wisconsin Alumni Association has offered Distinguished Alumni Awards annually since 1936. This year, WAA’s highest honor acknowledges five alumni who have made stellar contributions to their professions, their communities, and their alma mater.

Carol Edler Baumann ’54

As a former U.S. State Department staffer and board member for numerous diplomatic organizations, Carol Baumann built a network of professional relationships “that helped bring the world to Milwaukee,” according to a longtime colleague.

Baumann earned her doctorate from the London School of Economics and was a professor of political science at UW–Madison and UW–Milwaukee. In 1979, President Carter appointed her to serve as U.S. deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

At UW–Milwaukee, she directed the international relations major for 17 years and the Institute of World Affairs for 33 years. Baumann built the institute into one of the best of its kind while continuing to teach and inspire students to pursue careers in international affairs and global business. She was the first host of the institute’s television program, International Focus, which is still broadcast on Milwaukee public TV. Baumann also hosted the Dialogues with Diplomats series, which drew ambassadors and other high-ranking officials from around the world, including President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In 1958 she ran for Congress in Wisconsin’s Ninth Congressional District. Her extensive professional affiliations included the Council on Foreign Relations, the Wisconsin Governor’s Commission on the United Nations, and the National Foreign Policy Association.

Baumann helped facilitate cross-participation in international programming between the Milwaukee and Madison campuses, and she helped to forge a connection between the European Union and the international studies programs at UW–Madison. She retired in 1995 as a UW–Milwaukee professor emerita. Baumann published a novel, Journeys of the Mind, based on her travels and career.

John Bollinger ’57, PhD’61

As dean of the College of Engineering (CoE) from 1981 to 1999, John Bollinger presided over the creation of a familiar college landmark — the Maquina sculpture and fountain on Engineering Mall.

It was just one element of the $16 million CoE expansion to Engineering Hall in 1993. Bollinger’s 18-year tenure as dean also saw many other innovations, including a renovation of the materials science building and a new freshman course that assigned a real-world engineering project from design to final product. The college also instituted several annual competitions that encourage students to invent, patent, and commercialize their own technology. After retiring as dean, he created a new course, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Bollinger served as director of the Data Acquisition and Simulation Laboratory and as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering before becoming dean. He was a Fulbright Fellow in 1962 and 1980 and he coauthored two textbooks. Among his many patents, he invented a noise-quality detector for electric motors and an automated welder that helped Milwaukee’s A. O. Smith Company in manufacturing automobile frames. He founded and served as editor of the Journal of Manufacturing Systems.

He has served on the board of numerous companies, including Nicolet Instrument Corporation, Unico Incorporated, Kohler Company, and Berbee Information Networks. Bollinger is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Society for Engineering Education.

A Bascom Hill Society member, he has also generously supported the college financially. In honor of his parents, he established the UW’s Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award.

He also established several engineering student scholarships.

George Hamel Jr. ’80

When the California wildfires swept through wine country last fall, George and Pam Hamel, co-owners of Hamel Family Wines in the Sonoma Valley, sprang into action. They quickly organized and hosted a benefit with singer John Fogerty in support of wine country wildfire relief, raising more than $1.2 million. For the Hamels, who lost their own home in the fire, it was a typical act of generosity.

The Hamel family, which includes three generations of UW–Madison alumni (and a Badger alum daughter-in-law), has been extraordinarily generous across the campus. They provided the $15 million lead gift for the new Hamel Music Center on campus, as well as the founding gift for SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. They have been longtime supporters of the communication arts department and have provided major gifts to the Department of Athletics, the Garding Against Cancer initiative, the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Memorial Union, and several other UW programs.

Before becoming a vintner, George was a founder and served as COO of ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco–based investment firm.

For the Van Hise Society member, his support of the university has extended to giving generously of his time and advice. He serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board, the Communication Arts Partners, and the Garding Against Cancer steering committee, and he previously served on the UW Foundation board of directors and the College of Letters & Science board of visitors.

Ann McKee ’75

Ann McKee has studied hundreds of individuals diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and is the leading researcher on the degenerative brain disease. CTE is triggered by repetitive blows to the head and is most commonly found in athletes participating in boxing, football, ice hockey, and other contact sports, as well as military veterans. CTE causes symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, memory loss, aggression, and suicidal behavior. McKee was lead author on a 2017 study that found that CTE had been diagnosed in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research.

She has presented her findings to NFL officials and testified many times before Congress. Her research was highlighted on the Frontline special “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” as well as in the New York Times, TIME, Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe, CBS’s 60 Minutes, CNN, NPR, and other outlets.

McKee is a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University School of Medicine and directs its CTE Center. She’s also the director of the brain banks at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and the Framingham Heart Study.

Her game-changing findings continue to make headlines. Her data show that it’s actually repetitive small blows to the head, rather than big, concussion-inducing hits, that have the strongest link to CTE — and that has the potential to drastically change the game of football as we know it today.

In 2018, she received a lifetime achievement award for Alzheimer’s disease research from the Alzheimer’s Association, and she was named by TIME magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Allan Chi Yun Wong MS’73

Allan Chi Yun Wong is the founder, chair, and group CEO of the Hong Kong–based company VTech, one of the top 50 electronics manufacturers globally, with more than $1.8 billion in revenue.

After a brief stint at National Cash Register Company, Wong started VTech in 1976 as an electronics company that designed and manufactured home-gaming consoles, including Pong (an early video game based on table tennis).

In its first year, the company expanded from an initial investment of $40,000 to an annual revenue of just under $1 million. Under Wong’s direction, the company later focused on producing children’s learning products and cordless phones. In 1998, Business Week included him on its “World’s Top 25 Executives” list.

Wong serves on the board of China-Hongkong Photo Products Holdings Limited and Li and Fung Limited, and he’s also the deputy chairman and director of the Bank of East Asia, the third largest bank in Hong Kong. His government honored him with the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2008, and the United Kingdom gave him its Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award in 1997. He has an honorary doctorate from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and he served as a keynote speaker at the March 2017 Hong Kong chapter UW alumni event.

In 2016, Wong told CNN, “You don’t go into business to make money. You need to love your business, and you need to have passion, and you need to really want to make a difference in people’s lives. And making money is a byproduct, not the sole purpose.”

]]> 0
Wheelhouse Studios Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 What started four years ago as a small experiment meant to encourage the campus community to tap into its creativity has expanded tenfold into a hub for the skilled and newcomers alike to come together and make art. Wheelhouse Studios’ monthly Free Art Fridays draw between 300 and 400 people, and on the weekends it’s getting difficult to find an open pottery wheel.

“We exceeded all of our expectations, so organizationally, we’re figuring out what the sustainability plan is,” says recently retired director Jay Ekleberry ’77, MS’83. “How do we keep this going? How do we keep things fresh and new?”

Open 70 hours a week on the lower level of Memorial Union, Wheelhouse is available to students and union members and offers spaces dedicated to ceramic, 3D, and 2D art. The open-studio aspect is what sets the program apart, Ekleberry says. With other art spaces in Madison, “you can’t just waltz into your ceramics studio anytime between your class sessions and practice or work on a project.”

That time to pursue artistic passions was what inspired Wheelhouse’s predecessor, the Craftshop, which opened in 1930 after student Sally Owen Marshall ’30 used her senior thesis to petition for an art space on campus. It closed in 2012 for renovations to the union and Wheelhouse opened in 2014.

Close to 2,000 students and community members enroll in Wheelhouse classes during the year, and the studio attracts additional visitors when it hosts events to encourage conversation about contemporary issues. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus community was invited to drop in and create mixed-media collages representing their favorite quote from King. Wheelhouse has also hosted painting workshops to reinforce positive messages about body image.

“When you’re just sitting and talking when you’re working on an art project, the dialogue becomes deeper,” Ekleberry says. “It’s a whole different conversation because you’re engaged in this activity that’s activating the whole brain, forcing you to be creative. You have an instant common ground.”

]]> 0
The Marvels of Cartooning Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:27 +0000 Jeff Butler looks over students' drawing in a classroom

Andy Manis

Just like the superheroes he creates, artist Jeff Butler x’18 provided powerful inspiration when he led a workshop on drawing cartoon characters in July at One Alumni Place.

Butler, whose past jobs included illustrating the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, leads courses in the graphic design and illustration program at Madison College. He’s also returned to campus to complete his degree 36 years after leaving to pursue his career.

Butler began the Wisconsin Alumni Association event by detailing how he turned a childhood obsession with comic books into a career. Participants then tried exercises such as drawing the Statue of Liberty with their eyes closed. As the class concentrated on simple strategies to draw figures and other lessons, the room grew quiet, punctuated only by Butler’s delighted laughter and comments of “Wow,” and “Awesome!” as he examined their work.

“It was wonderful to see Badgers of all ages who came out to learn more about Jeff’s story and share in his talents,” says McKenzie Glynn-Zdrale ’00, the Alumni Park and Place program director. “It was a fun night for everyone.”

Len Mormino ’91 attended the workshop with his daughter Sophia, an aspiring artist of 13. Mormino had planned to spend the time working on his laptop, but he was drawn into participating. “I was glad I did it,” he says, adding that he enjoyed watching Sophia find the inspiration and confidence she needed through the workshop. Her takeaway message, he says, was, “Stick with your art, and you can grow it into unpredictably great things.”

One Alumni Place is the visitor center for the new Alumni Park. See for more information and a schedule of events.

]]> 0
Lester Graves Lennon ’73 Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:09 +0000 Lester Lennon at the Memorial Union Terrace

Sarah Morton

If you were looking for Lester Graves Lennon ’73 back in the late ’60s, chances are you found him at Der Rathskeller.

“I basically haunted the Rath,” says the English major from New York who came to UW–Madison because that’s where smart characters in James A. Michener novels went to college. Lennon could spend hours hunkered down in the Memorial Union hangout, playing bridge or dabbling in poetry.

“When I finished a poem, I’d go around the Rathskeller showing my friends,” he says.

Beyond the Union, the written word played a defining role in Lennon’s UW experience. A standout memory is a Shakespeare course taught by English professor Standish Henning. “I love how he brought it to life,” Lennon says. And he’ll never forget meeting Gwendolyn Brooks; the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry served as the Rennebohm Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in spring 1969. Lennon took her class and came away inspired to keep putting pen to paper.

He continued writing as his path veered from the UW, first to San Francisco and Berkeley, where he worked in a student-owned record store he’d read about in Rolling Stone, and then in city jobs in the Bay area, where he picked up some finance skills. When a friend told him about an investment banking firm starting up, Lennon was ready for the challenge. He set down roots a few years later in Los Angeles, establishing himself as both an investment banker and a poet. The two pursuits, he has found, have a surprising amount in common.

“It’s all about energy, it’s all about creativity, it’s all about trying to find solutions for problems,” he says.

Lennon is working on his third book of poetry, with several pieces started at visits to the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, where he sits on the board of directors. He also serves on the board at Red Hen Press and was part of a mayoral task force that helped appoint Los Angeles’s first poet laureate in 2012.

Through it all, Lennon has maintained a connection to campus, returning twice a year for English department board of visitors meetings. In spring 2017, he was eager to visit his old stomping grounds. He checked out the revamped Memorial Union and searched for a personalized brick that he purchased to commemorate all the hours he spent there.

Its inscription: Poetry written here.

]]> 0
Beauty Vanishes Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:08 +0000 During more than four decades as a photographer, Michael Kienitz ’74 has worked in some of the most beautiful spots in the world — from Peru to the Hindu Kush mountain range near the Afghanistan–Pakistan border. But his camera was always focused on people at the center of armed conflicts, not their environments. The scenery was merely background.

That all changed five years ago when Kienitz visited Iceland for the first time. He was walking through a gravel area with a guide who took out his cell phone and shared a gorgeous photo of an immense ice cave. When Kienitz remarked on how beautiful it was, the guide said, “Two years ago, that cave was where we are standing.”

Iceland’s glacial ice is melting, due in large part to climate change. And that vanishing beauty is what motivated Kienitz to return to the island nation — so many times now that he’s lost count — to capture more of its breathtaking landscapes before they disappear. Last winter, he visited a stunning cave. “It’s already vanished. Collapsed,” Kienitz says. That sense of loss stands to be the gut punch for visitors who view his upcoming exhibition at the UW’s Chazen Museum of Art (September 14 to February 3), representing the subject that has dominated his work since that first visit to Iceland. His images — printed on long-lasting aluminum — as well as video he captured using drones equipped with HD cameras, are of places that may no longer exist or soon will be gone. And Kienitz hopes that pictures will have a greater impact on people than statistics from scientists.

“That, to me, is the most important thing,” he says. “I don’t want them to say … ‘Are these ever beautiful photos.’ I want them to contemplate the future of our planet and how rapidly it’s degrading in so many ways.”

Kienitz got his start at the UW photographing Vietnam War protests for the Daily Cardinal and later earned acclaim for his book and exhibit Small Arms: Children of Conflict. He doesn’t see an end to his efforts in Iceland.

“The beauty for me of doing photography is that I’m not going to be retiring,” he says. “It’s not in my lexicon.”

]]> 0
Bucky on Parade Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:08 +0000 Bucky Badger had a busy summer. By metamorphosing into 85 six-foot-tall, brightly decorated statues, the beloved mascot posed across Dane County from May to September. The free public-art event, Bucky on Parade, was produced by the Madison Area Sports Commission, with support from the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau and in partnership with UW–Madison, the UW Department of Athletics, and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. It took 64 artists to complete the Buckys — from Bucky Alvarez to Celestial Bucky — and some of the statues will be auctioned off in September, with proceeds supporting charities such as Garding Against Cancer, a campaign spearheaded by UW men’s basketball coach Greg Gard and his wife, Michelle, to support the state’s cancer research.

Can you match these Buckys to their titles?

America’s Badgerland
Baller Bucky
Blooming Bucky
Bucky Alvarez
Bucky come se Picasso
Celestial Bucky
Dream Big Bucky
Flamingo Bucky
Graduation Bucky
Leckrone’s Stop at the Top
Visible Bucky


Bucky statue wearing basketball uniform

Baller Bucky


Bucky statue painted with celestial design

Celestial Bucky


Bucky statue painted to show exposed anatomy including muscles, and organs

Visible Bucky


Bucky statue painted with patchwork suit showing different illustrations

Dream Big Bucky


Bucky statue painted to resemble Barry Alvarez

Bucky Alvarez


Bucky statue painted with Picasso-like abstract designs

Bucky come se Picasso


Bucky statue painted with cow on front

America’s Badgerland


Bucky statue painted green with flowers and pink flamingos

Flamingo Bucky


Bucky statue painted to wear UW marching band uniform

Leckrone’s Stop at the Top


Bucky statue painted with bright pink flowers

Blooming Bucky


Bucky statue wearing graduation uniform

Graduation Bucky


Bucky statue painted with sunset colors and silhouette of Terrace chair


]]> 0
Hooked on Comics Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:41 +0000 Jeff Butler x’18 has always loved the company of superheroes, starting with Batman and Bart Starr.

As a kid, he devoured comics. He read them over and over, studying the art. His mother, Bonnie, was convinced reading anything was a good thing and encouraged her energetic son to draw.

“I suspect it was a welcome break for her to have me sitting quietly for any length of time,” Butler says.

But his father, Tom ’50, wasn’t keen on his comic book obsession: “He thought they were trash,” says Butler. The two bonded instead over a shared love of football and his dad’s stories of sports legends.

Butler’s competing passions for art and athletics continued as he entered college in 1976, where he joined the Badger football team as a walk-on. But art ultimately won out, or as Butler puts it: “Mom won the argument.”

During his time at UW–Madison, Butler created a comic book and launched a career as a commercial artist that included illustrating Dungeons & Dragons, a landmark role playing game in which each player is assigned a character to inhabit during imaginary adventures that take place in a fantasy world. D&D has influenced pop culture for decades.

He grew up watching the Green Bay Packers every Sunday with his father, a longtime sports writer who covered Badger basketball and football for the Wisconsin State Journal. At Madison West High School, Butler played quarterback under coach Burt Hable ’53, MS’65, a former UW defensive back.

Butler arrived on the UW campus in 1976 and joined the football team in the spring of 1978, during Dave McClain’s first season as the Badgers’ head coach. But he subsequently struggled with headaches following a concussion during a scrimmage and gave up football after one season on the advice of his doctor.

A fine arts major, Butler focused on school but stayed connected to athletics by illustrating posters for the UW’s football and wrestling teams. His painting classes provided the firm foundation he needed as an aspiring illustrator and comics artist.

“Before college, drawing was just an intuitive thing that I did,” Butler says. “College was the first time I started paying attention to the formal and academic aspects of creating art.”

In 1982, writer Mike Baron ’71 recruited Butler to draw The Badger for Madison-based Capital Comics. The independent comic featured a Vietnam War veteran suffering from multiple personality disorder. One of his personalities was The Badger, an urban vigilante who could talk to animals.

Butler had drawn several issues of The Badger when he left the UW without his degree to work as an artist for a Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, gaming company called TSR, Inc., the maker of Dungeons & Dragons.

For five years, he worked on D&D illustrations. The company created the role playing game industry that laid the groundwork for computer games such as World of Warcraft, as well as the Game of Thrones books and HBO television series. “Simply put, this seminal game made these later multibillion-dollar pop culture phenomena possible,” Michael Witwer wrote in his 2016 book, Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons.

TSR also had the license for the Marvel Super Heroes role playing game, for which Butler became the primary artist. The game received critical praise and still has an active following more than 30 years after its initial release. And the assignment reunited him with the characters that captivated his childhood imagination. “I was just thrilled to get paid to do this stuff,” Butler says.

He left TSR and returned to comics in 1989, working on The Green Hornet, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Hercules. He also reunited with Baron, his collaborator and cocreator on The Badger, to create Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley, based on a Japanese TV commercial for Nike with the NBA great taking on the movie monster.

Butler came home to Madison in 1997 and, in his words, “began a crash course in digital art.” For 13 years, he created video game character art for Raven Software, including uniform designs and storyboards for Star Trek: Voyager — Elite Force. Raven’s work on the game caught the eye of LucasArts, which “borrowed” the studio for two Star Wars games, Butler says. Digital art also kept him close to some of the characters he fell in love with when he worked as lead character artist on video games based on Marvel properties.

In 2012, Butler began teaching comic book art and cartooning classes at Madison College. He now leads courses in the school’s graphic design and illustration program. Earlier this year, he reenrolled full time at the UW to complete the 25 credits he needed to earn his art degree. One of his courses — Making Comics — was taught by renowned cartoonist and writer Lynda Barry, whose methods have inspired Butler in his own teaching.

“I appreciate [being a student] so much more now that I’m older,” Butler says. “But I still feel like a kid.”

]]> 0
Madison, Revisited Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:40 +0000

We’ve been there before.

Visiting Madison to revive Badger memories, we order up the usual, frequenting the same places and reliving time-honored activities again and again.

That bowl of Berry Alvarez ice cream is calling our name at Babcock Hall. A plastic pitcher of beer awaits on the Union Terrace. The burgers, brats, and sticky-floored college bars that drew us away from textbooks, term papers, and 8:50 classes beckon.

Following that script is easy. Occasionally, though, it’s fun to venture beyond our comfort zone and build fresh traditions. So, we spent 36 hours traipsing to untested venues, sampling innovative tastes, and plowing ahead with untried activities.

Along the way, we met an Iron Chef champion, admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s rare Japanese art prints, soaked in a shimmering view of Madison’s lakes from a brand-new roost, put on our dancing shoes, checked out a Huey helicopter, and browsed 13 types of cheese curds.

Nighttime view of the capitol building and State Street in Madison, WI.

An action-packed visit to Madison puts the capital city in a new light. Andy Manis

We scarfed a raft of cuisines, cruised museums, and got a little exercise.

Madison has enjoyed a rebirth as its people and tastes have morphed and diners’ expectations have kicked up. It’s become a foodie town, awash in creative restaurants.

“Dining has to offer an experience,” says Sara Granados ’10 at the Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro atop the AC Hotel. “Madison has a lot of restaurant options. Having good food and drinks isn’t enough. You need to have the whole package.”

Push away from the table, and you’ll find that Madison deserves high marks as a destination. National Geographic Traveler named Madison one of America’s top small cities, ranking it on such things as green spaces, coffee shops, breweries, and music venues.

We put those assessments to the test. At noon on a Wednesday, the Good Food cart on East Main Street on the Capitol Square is running with choreographed efficiency. Workers in the cramped cart crank out signature veggie dishes, some with lean meat, and all with a low-carb profile. The line lengthens as offices empty for the lunch hour.

The cart is the brainchild of Melanie Nelson ’08, a zoology major and runner who had trouble finding healthy eating options as an undergraduate. She saved money from her bartending job and sank it into the food cart in 2010. She now has two carts — on Capitol Square and Library Mall, open weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — plus a brick-and-mortar restaurant, the Good Food Café, on Cottage Grove Road on Madison’s east side.

Working originally out of a commercial kitchen in a converted garage, Nelson built a reputation for her tasty menu. “We were fast as hell, but there was always a line,” she says, noting that many of her customers are repeaters. “Attorneys would come down and I thought, ‘You guys are earning $150 an hour, and you spend 20 minutes waiting in our line?’ That says something to me.”

At $8.50, the pad Thai salad melds spiral-cut veggies with red cabbage, onions, peanuts, greens, cilantro, and a wedge of lime — plus a choice of grilled chicken or tofu — all drizzled with a spicy peanut dressing.

Around the corner is an often-overlooked gem — the Wednesday Dane County Farmers’ Market. With tables laden with beans, beets, and onions, Yeng Yang sells produce and carries on a family tradition at the corner of Wilson Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

His Hmong immigrant parents began growing vegetables in 1989 and have been selling at the market since 1992. “My parents did not want to accept welfare, so they began farming,” Yang says. “I grew up farming most of my life.”

The family operation grows vegetables in nearby Brooklyn, Wisconsin, and works both the Wednesday and Saturday markets.

“Wednesday is more of a buyers’ market,” says Yang, as he sells two bags of fingerling potatoes to a shopper. “We see the same people every week.”

The Saturday market rings Capitol Square and commands a sea of visitors, but the Wednesday affair is more laid back. A wild rainbow of produce is heaped on the tables: broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, poblano peppers, melons, spuds.

Dairy farmer Tom Murphy’s family sells 13 varieties of cheese curds, plus fresh-baked cookies and bars. Murphy Farms has also been at the market for a quarter-century.

“This market saved my family farm,” says Murphy, of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. “We’re in our sixth generation on the farm and people saved it by buying our products.” A 15-minute walk lands us at Madison Sourdough on Williamson Street. A popular breakfast and lunch spot, it has a bakery producing breads, rich French pastries, croissants, scones, macarons, and cheesecakes.

Dessert tarts from Madison Sourdough bakery

Dessert from Madison Sourdough Emily Hutchinson

A dense, rich pistachio Breton ($5) and a chocolate-almond croissant ($3.75) make up our midday snack, along with cups of steaming coffee. Executive chef and general manager Molly Maciejewski uses traditional French techniques.

“We source many of our products locally and mill much of our own flour,” she says. “It keeps more money in the local economy [and] supports farmers, and milling our own flour helps bakers, because it gives them more control.”

The bakery has a friendly energy. “It’s very neighborhood centered, with a family vibe, and we like that,” Maciejewski says.

With only wayward crumbs remaining, it’s back to downtown and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which occupies the prow of the Overture Center on State Street.

The State Street gallery featured the metal sculptures of Jaume Plensa in a display titled Talking Continents. The suspended steel forms appeared to float in the gallery. Other galleries feature works in video, film, painting, prints, and fabric and are staffed by knowledgeable docents. In May, the museum welcomed Far Out: Art from the 1960s.

One can’t-miss feature is the museum’s store, which has a stunning array of goods from designers and studio artists — including jewelry, wood, leather, glass, and metal work as well as children’s gifts, art books, and cards. Soon, dinnertime arrives. Just off State Street, we find out whose cuisine reigns supreme.

Tory Miller began his restaurant career working in his grandparents’ Racine, Wisconsin, diner — the Park Inn — and today he owns four Madison fine-dining restaurants: Estrellón, Graze, L’Etoile, and Sujeo.

Chef Tory Miller Sam Egelhoff

Award-winning chef Tory Miller Sam Egelhoff

His skills, honed at the French Culinary Institute in New York, have earned him the James Beard Award as the Best Chef: Midwest. Then, in January, his friends and fans gathered at Estrellón’s bar on West Johnson Street to watch him defeat rarely vanquished celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown.

“It’s very intense,” says Miller. “You’re pretty much competing against the ingredient. It’s wild to be on a show I grew up watching and take out somebody like Bobby Flay.”

We tried Estrellón, a Spanish restaurant with elegant, creative cuisine and a warm feel. “We wanted people to feel like you were coming into our house,” Miller says.

Paella at Estrellón

Paella at Estrellón Sam Egelhoff

The Spanish Experience Chef’s Dinner for Two ($90) includes a selection of tapas, a mixed-beet salad with smoked goat cheese and a subtle horseradish sauce, and a sweet treat of Basque cake with frozen custard and fruit compote. In between, there was a crusty bread with tomato; Tamworth ham pintxos; a tortilla with egg, potato, onion, and aoli; croquettes made with smooth Spanish manchego cheese; grilled octopus; and a paella made with bomba rice, chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, and chorizo.

Miller locally sources ingredients. “Proximity to great food and agriculture is what keeps me here,” he says. “People rave about the Rhône River valley in Europe or Napa Valley, but to me, the Driftless Region is something untouchable for growing super-delicious food prolifically.”

Sated, we head off for a novel nightcap. For some at The Brink Lounge, Wednesday night is beer night. For others, it’s date night or a break from the routine. But for more than 30 souls — a mix of regulars, curious onlookers, and the experimental few — it’s time for some high-energy dancing.

The lounge is part of a trio of bars and entertainment venues in what was once a secondhand store. It’s also part of a neighborhood teeming with new residential, commercial, and entertainment developments at downtown Madison’s eastern gateway.

Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., The Brink features Jumptown Swing Dance, a group born as a UW–Madison student organization. Eventually, Jumptown became a community-based group that holds classes and events to teach people to swing dance — especially the Lindy Hop. With a DJ playing the swing rhythms of Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and a variety of more contemporary swing artists, people discard their inhibitions and dance.

“It’s people trying to have fun. You can have a party for two for three minutes,” says Sarah Zabinski, a Jumptown instructor and a 14-year member member of the group. “We’re all dorks, so silly things happen on the floor.”

On day two, the dawn finds us confident we can outsmart cholesterol science. That puts us at The Curve, a Madison diner just six blocks south of campus, next to Spike-O-Matic Tattoo, at the bend in Park Street.

The Curve is owned by Bill Antonie ’90, a Badger outside linebacker in the late 1980s. He’s still beefy, with an easy baritone laugh that erupts after summarizing what satisfies him most: “Everybody yaps and yaps and then, all of a sudden, they get their food and they shut the hell up.” Antonie started working in his parents’ Monona truck stop diner at age nine. “If I was working for the state or any other company, I’d be retired with a gold watch, but instead I’m sweeping the damn floor.”

Eggs, wheat toast, and corned beef hash arrive on an oval platter, delivered by Kathy Tracy, a 26-year veteran waitress behind the U-shaped Formica counter where politicians, students, hospital workers, university administrators, and neighbors gather.

Antonie is a jack-of-all-trades, flipping eggs and bacon on the flat-top. He whips up his special-recipe corned beef hash every other Saturday (and every Badger football Saturday). To work off the $6 breakfast, it’s off to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the Capitol Square.

The free museum, operated by the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, is compact but jammed with fascinating artifacts and exhibits.

World War I Beyond the Trenches marks the war’s centennial. It combines displays and artifacts such as trench periscopes, a German MG08 machine gun, and uniforms, and features compelling interviews with Wisconsin soldiers.

It also features exhibits on 20th-century military conflicts, including a World War II Jeep, artifacts from the battleship USS Wisconsin, and a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter. Peckish again, it’s time to seek and destroy some pizza.

This time, we turn to vibrant Monroe Street, with its wealth of shops and restaurants. Pizza Brutta is tucked behind a stone-arched façade and offers wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.

“Neapolitan pizza is simple,” says co-owner Derek Lee, a professional pizza maker, or “pizzaiolo,” certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana, the association for authentic Neapolitan pizza. “There’s no sugar, no extra ingredients. It’s just crushed tomatoes, handmade fresh mozzarella, sea salt, olive oil, and our dough. It’s an exercise in restraint.”

Employee places pizza inside the wood-fired oven at Pizza Brutta

The wood-fired oven at Pizza Brutta Andy Manis

Of course, there are other toppings, too. We chose the $12 salame funghi, featuring oregano, salami, cremini mushrooms, and saracene olives and delivered steaming after just 90 seconds in the 900-degree brick oven.

Lee’s co-owner, wife Darcy Lee ’96, says Pizza Brutta uses locally sourced organic products. “In Naples, they depend on a local food system. It was a way for us to marry business with helping the environment.” By now, exercise seems appropriate, so it’s off to a nearby BCycle rack to use the city’s convenient bikeshare program for a junket west of campus.

In 2017, renters rode 300,000 miles, burning off 11.9 million calories. With several dozen stations around Madison, you can rent one of the red bikes, outfitted with a basket and a lock. A $6 daily pass, which covers unlimited 30-minute rides, is required. Additional time goes for $3 for 30 minutes.

“Badgers and bikes are a great blend,” says Morgan Ramaker ’06, MBA’17, director of Madison BCycle. “It’s a way to cover more ground and see Madison without parking hassles.”

Headed west on the smooth-riding bikes, we begin a mini–Frank Lloyd Wright x1890 tour. First stop: the Eugene A. Gilmore House, known as the “airplane house.”

Wright built the house for Gilmore, a UW law professor, in 1908 on the highest point of University Heights. Its copper-roofed wings extend from a center pavilion with a triangular balcony — which gives the home the appearance of an airplane. It remains a private residence, unavailable for tours.

Ten minutes away is the First Unitarian Meeting House. A National Historic Landmark built in 1951, it’s a magnet for Wright devotees. Its design, with a soaring copper roof evoking a church steeple and a triangular auditorium, has influenced religious architecture since it was completed.

Two bicyclists ride past Frank Lloyd Wright house

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s “airplane house” via BCycle Andy Manis

Our guide points out Wright’s signature plywood furniture and Hiroshige’s early-nineteenth-century prints — once part of Wright’s collection — in the loggia. Wright said the simplicity of Japanese art, which he sold early in his career to supplement his income, greatly influenced his work.

After the tour, there’s still time for nature. Just more than a mile away is Frautschi Point, part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, a lesser-known area west of Picnic Point. There’s a parking lot off Lake Mendota Drive, and a short walk yields an elevated view of Lake Mendota, beneath a canopy of burr oaks, white oaks, and shagbark hickories.

A wooden staircase leads to the lake’s edge at Raymer’s Cove. The spot offers a view of the Middleton shore and of sandstone cliffs where Raymer’s Ravine meets the lake.

With the clock ticking on our rented bikes and our 36-hour adventure, we pedal to a new vantage point.

Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro combines urban attitude with panoramic altitude. It offers a 10th-floor penthouse view of the state Capitol, just a block away, and Lakes Mendota and Monona.

The eclectic menu features a globally fused array of cheese boards and dishes with small-plate influences ranging from Greek to Korean to Italian. Its floor-to-ceiling windows and a ninth-floor outdoor terrace provide a vivid atmosphere.

Interior of Eno Vino Wine Bar and Bistro shows view of capitol building

Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro Sara Granados

After Eno Vino opened in 2017, social-media selfies helped drive success. “People started asking, ‘Where is that view? We’ve never seen it before,’ ” says general manager Jennifer Cameron. “It was a snowball effect.”

Eno Vino commands a big-city vibe and a glass wine case holding hundreds of bottles. After glasses of wine with small plates of goat cheese tortellini ($12) and lamb meatballs ($13), there was just enough time to crown our 36-hour expedition.

Just a 25-minute walk away, we settled into sunburst chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace with bowls of Berry Alvarez ice cream to catch a perfect sunset.

New adventures are great, but some habits die hard.

]]> 0
Mystery Solved Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:13:08 +0000 The List Issue featured four University Archives images in search of captions. Readers answered the call and helped identify three of them, with the first image (below) generating the most replies.

Black and white photograph of two people in medieval armor sparring as crowd watches outdoors.

The dueling knights were part of an event sponsored by the Society for Creative Anachronism, according to alumni. Memories varied as to what year the image was captured, but responses narrowed the time frame to the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Nighttime black and white photo of two people blocking traffic while holding either end of large sign that reads "Streak to impeach!!"

This photo was likely taken outside Sellery Hall in fall 1973, wrote Larry Classen ’77, JD’80, noting, “Streaking was a rather popular cultural phenomenon at that time, as was anti-Nixon sentiment. I have no recollection of whether this was organized in any way or how we learned about it. But at some point, word spread that there were streakers outside.”

Black and white photo of man sitting in front of bookshelf, wearing a hat and boots and holding a parrot.

Friends and former classmates of Ben Jeffrey Madoff ’71 identified him as the mystery man in this image. Madoff launched his own clothing line in Madison and now leads a video-production company in New York City serving clients such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren. “That is me in the picture,” Madoff confirms. “I’m real; the parrot isn’t.” He says Jeffrey Jayson ’72 captured the image inside a campus library in 1968 or 1969. “I don’t remember where I found the parrot, but I had it for a few years,” Madoff says. “It was low maintenance. Never ate.”

]]> 0