September 2014 Reviews
Beer gardens, a book and more.
New York Times bestselling author Susan Vreeland, born in Racine, didn’t find literary inspiration until 1971, when she took a tour of the Louvre and promised to devote herself to the study of art. Since, Vreeland, who showed a fondness for Dutch painter Vermeer in 1999’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue, has offered written hymns in the form of novels imbued with art history. Her latest, Lisette’s list (Random House), describes prim Lisette’s hunt for post-impressionist and modernist paintings set against the backdrop of 1940s Provence, often in the shadow of World War II. With help from Marc Chagall – and Vreeland’s heavy-handed scenic descriptions – the novel winds its way through the French countryside armed with drama as rich as its surroundings. Francophiles and fans of The Monuments Men will rejoice. (Claire Hanan)
Maybe it’s the owners’ willingness to donate spare tires to cyclists in need, but local handcrafted home goods store Hometown Established: A General Store (130 W. Mineral St.) fits well in Walker’s Point. A project of Michael Reese and his wife, Laurie Viduski, the sunlit shop doubles as a gallery. Work from local artists Poppy & Fox and Neon Danger deserve display, though the home goods alone will keep visitors intrigued. Leather-wrapped Mason jar travel mugs from Tactile Craftworks are a fun find. So is the corner of shibori-dyed silk scarves from By Hand. Many featured artists also sell online via Etsy, but the items are best viewed in person. Reese acknowledges the display of African woven baskets does stray from the whole local-artisan theme, but one thing is certain – there’s surely nothing you’ll feel guilty purchasing. (Sarah Butler)
All around me, children explore the wonders of Bounce Milwaukee (2801 S. Fifth Ct.). Meanwhile, I explore a high-tech massage chair that would make Starfleet captains jealous. Off to the left, my 5- and 3-year-olds shoot baskets, getting extra air on their jump shots inside an inflatable sports arena. To my right are two more huge inflatables, featuring slides, tunnels and other energy-burning obstacles. In front of me, spider-kids scale a rock climbing wall with help from staffers and an auto-belay system. I watch it all from my vantage point, fighting off massage-induced sleep. We’re too busy to try the laser tag and video games included in our all-day everything passes, or to eat at the snack bar. But we’ll be back. So long as the chair’s there. (Howie Magner)