Get to Know the Pfister Hotel’s Current Artist in Residence

Christopher T Wood is all moved in – along with dozens of his drawings.

Christopher T Wood’s drawings wrap around his studio at the Pfister Hotel. They stretch from floor to ceiling, evenly spaced against the gray walls. One features three bees buzzing in the faded outline of a human stomach, another shows a stark white iceberg floating in black water while others feature abstract sketches of swirling shapes and sharp lines that leave more to the imagination. Beyond shades of gray, color is rare – but the use of contrast is captivating. 

The grid of drawings resembles the pages of a calendar, which is intentional. Each piece represents one day – of nearly 2,500 total – since Wood started Daydrawing on Jan. 1, 2016. The concept is simple: Take a standard, 9×12 sheet of plain white paper and create something new from it every day. Wood uses simple tools like graphite, an X-Acto knife and an everyday sock to do so. Each drawing is not only its own work of art, but part of one massive piece collected in the studio, at his home and in art collections speckled around the country.

A drawing from Christopher T Wood’s “Day-Drawing Project”; Photo by Aliza Baran

“As I add to it, it expands,” Wood says. “It is a single object that exists in many places at the same time. And it will continue to grow forever.”

Bringing Daydrawing to the Pfister’s renowned artist in residence program felt like a natural fit to Wood, who also teaches at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. While he’s at the hotel, he’s using the hustle and bustle as a muse. Inspiration may come from a scene he observes in the lobby, a conversation he has with a guest or even a poem written on the typewriter in his studio – the belly bees came from one such stanza.

“The Pfister is a hub for people coming and going,” Wood says. “So all of the guests are going to have their stories tied in with the project.” 

You can see his most recent illustrations – and some that predate his residency – in his studio off the hotel lobby. He’s often there, working on a new piece. Or you may find him wandering the hotel, taking in the people and art for inspiration.


INSPIRE AN ILLO: Even when Wood isn’t in the studio, he leaves out notecards and pencils for passersby. Submit them in the envelope on his door and he’ll read it to consider for one of his daily drawings.


Double Vision at the Pfister

Christopher T Wood suggests pairings of paintings that help illuminate each other.

A Captive’s Last Idea

BY REGINALD BAYLOR

This painting comes from the Pfister’s first-ever artist in residence and is inspired by another piece hanging in the lobby. You can see the hotel’s mark in other ways, too, like the couple wearing clothes that were for sale in the hotel store and a couch found in the stairwell. “It’s so much a piece of the history,” Wood says. 

The Captive’s Last Idea by Reginald Baylor; Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel

Pairs well with Baylor’s inspiration: 

The Captive

BY PAUL LOUIS NARCISSE GROLLERON 

The Captive by Paul Louis Narcisse Grolleron; Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel

The Dog

BY ALEXANDER POPE

“I like dogs and I like paintings that reward you for looking closely,” Wood says. He recommends zooming in on the hound’s face to reveal intricate textures. 

The Dog by Alexander Pope; Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel

Pairs well with a piece around the corner:

Teddy Roosevelt’s Door

BY RICHARD LABARRE GOODWIN

Teddy Roosevelt’s Door by Richard LaBarre Goodwin; Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel

 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s August issue.

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Allison Garcia is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.