Friday, June 23, 2006

Basically, my problem with Madison's
"condo magnet" is just that it's not this

It was like a controlled experiment: Take two Wisconsin cities and have two different wealthy benefactors (both of whom made their money in the printing industry, oddly enough) give each of the cities a $100-million-plus bequest to finance a new, arts-related building. What will they do with the money?

In Madison, we hire Cesar Pelli and build the Overture Center. In Milwaukee, for just a little bit more, they hire Santiago Calatrava to build that spectacular addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum with the stunning "wings" that soar above the harbor.

Milwaukee hired a visionary architect whose daring design redefined Milwaukee's image in the eyes of the world. People literally come from all over the world to see it. Madison chose a competent, nationally-known architect who is good at working a committee and coming up with the requisite compromises. Which is what we got. Clearly, it's great for downtown development. It's a condo magnet. And few people outside Madison have heard of it.

Have been meaning to make one of our periodic pilgrimages to Calatrava's masterpiece, and here's a good reason: The Laundress reminds us that the MAM's great show, "Masters of American Comics," only runs through August 13. I'm especially eager to see the old masters, Winsor McKay ("Little Nemo in Slumberland") and George Herriman ("Krazy Kat").

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