Shawna Nicols is better known in Milwaukee as DJ Shawna. If you’ve attended a Bucks or Badgers game, you’ve cheered for your hometown team with her. If you’re a Pride Fest regular, you probably danced with her. And if you caught the Lizzo show at Summerfest last year, you warmed up with her.
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2 June 9:56am
As a watercolorist and creative placemaker, Julia Taylor never stops seeking new ways to solve problems. Julia knows first-hand how art can define people, neighborhoods, and entire communities.
17 May 9:39am
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered our lives. From unemployment to the frontline employees providing the necessities, the pandemic is taking a toll on our physical and mental health. It has individually and collectively impacted our well being. Until a vaccine or an effective treatment is available, we will endure a slow and steady recovery.
14 May 4:16pm
There’s a rhythm about Dan Didier. It’s technical, buoyant, and productive. He’s a drummer to his core. Dan’s frenetic tempo drives him to create and produce music and film and storytelling and photography.
5 May 7:55am
There is a lot of stigma regarding mental and behavioral health. Some folks hate to admit they have a mental health disorder before it is too late and seek treatment. Some folks are brave enough to admit their condition, but it requires plenty of courage to do so.
3 May 8:46am
Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski is a multidisciplinary producer, whose credits include No Studios artist in residence, the annual Medusa Monologues (a collaboration with Mary Chuy), My First and Last Film, Ringolevio, and Corridor. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
19 April 9:28am
Several Milwaukee buildings are displaying red, white, and blue lights in solidarity against the coronavirus. Participants include Discovery World, Milwaukee County Historical Society, the U.S. Bank Building, the Gas Light Building, Northwestern Mutual, and more.
19 April 9:07am
Romke de Haan is a creative technologist, serial entrepreneur, and business leader with a heart that beats hip hop. He is a graduate of and former creative director for Homeboyz Interactive, an organization that taps the latent talents of gang members, redirecting their energy from violent activity to website development.
9 April 2:50pm
Mark Fairbanks co-founded Islands of Brilliance with his wife Margaret in 2012. The organization’s premise - to pair children with autism with design professionals who can teach the students valuable software skills
18 March 8:04am
The Coronavirus (Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has forced local arts organizations to temporarily suspend operations to adhere to social distancing and flatten the curve (slowing the virus spread and thus, fewer people seeking treatment at any given time).
I have heard writers refer to penning their own bios as being a “death sentence.” So, when you hear the term obituary, and are asked to write one, it’s...
My good friend and award winning editor Barry Poltermann once told me a story about movie pitches in Hollywood. He told me that if you’re in a meeting...
Anne Reed doesn’t drink coffee. I find this out as she greets me at her front door and offers me tea with her apologies for not having the caffeinated...
One of my favorite quotes is by artist and photographer Chuck Close, who famously said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get...
It was far too late when I realized how silly I must have looked standing in my underwear in the parking lot of a skatepark. I had just come from an...
August 6th was adult contemporary night here in Milwaukee as suburban couples and twenty somethings hopped in their SUVs to the Fiserv Forum to hear John...
It was a Tuesday evening and I headed Northwest of the city over to Sherman Phoenix, a community space in the Sherman Park neighborhood that is dedicated...
My 19 year old son and I were walking out of the theater after Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood and he was clearly dejected...
Summer 2018. The day was a grey heat. Air that hung to you. It was the first full day of World Cup matches, and Three Lions Pub was humming, expectant...
On Mother’s Day, I decided to spend my time with a friend. My friend James is one of those people who always knows something exciting going on. He has...
If you’ve attended an event hosted by Milwaukee Film, there’s close to a 100% chance you’ve run into or at least seen Kristopher Pollard.
We moved our daughter to Brooklyn, New York recently and it was a joyous and profoundly sad journey. So, of course, I had to write about it.
I have been gluten free, except for the breaded fry incident back in December, for about four months. Before you groan and stop reading because you...
Passed away. Passed on. Laid to rest. Crossed over. Bit the dust. Kicked the bucket. With Jesus in Heaven. On the other side. Sleeping with the fishes...
Growing up in the 90’s, the concept of “Stranger Danger” was drilled into my head. I remember my school making us watch disturbing videos about ominous...
As we’ve grown to annoyingly expect, at the end of each year, Facebook’s news feed is consumed with post-after-post of friends, family members, and old...
There has always been a part of me that has been a cowgirl. As a kid, I wore cowboy boots, collected a menagerie of porcelain horses, had a favorite...
So you made it through the polar vortex of 2019. Me too! I had a lot of time to think during those bitter cold days and I thought a lot about my values...
It was a typically warm summer night in St. Louis, and Phil Sklar and Brad Novak pulled up to Busch Stadium to take in a ballgame. They love baseball...
Written and drawn from the perspective of a 5’4 midwesterner
Welcome to the Super Bowl of the United States of America. Where “All things to all people” has now reached it’s full self-actualized potential...
I have a feral cat that has lived near or on my front porch for over 11 years.
I want to tell you about the magical world of the Internet. I often ponder its utility when I read about viral challenges that ultimately yield the next...
Hell yeah, another year end list: The top 10 films of 2018, from Commonstate contributor Evan Casey.
The end of the year is a time when sites inundate us with “best of” lists. But here at Commonstate, we’re going to do things a bit differently...
Social media has made it more difficult than ever to temporarily escape from the outside world. Political arguments, clickbait articles, and an ever...
Let’s go back a year or so, late fall. A group of about 30 employees of Flowers For Dreams meet at one of their homes in Chicago and are sitting around...
A simple Google search will reveal that songwriters have been comparing the act of falling in love to a narcotics addiction for many years...
The whole thing started out as a treasure hunt of sorts, an ambitious and industrious young woman named Ashley Town was on a quest. She had written a book.
Active Bird Community’s story is one ripped straight from a rock-and-roll fantasy. Founding members Tom D’Agustino, Andrew Wolfson, and Zach Slater...
I saw an activist that I follow posting videos of people smashing cop cars. I thought, where is this happening? I was like, holy... this is Milwaukee.
The “discovery” functionality on Spotify can be a harsh mistress. I’m not sure I love it, and it rarely loves me back. People are constantly recommending
I met Elmer at one of those career day things at an elementary school. There was the fireman, I was the radio guy, and Elmer was the entrepreneur.
Walking though the gate into Victory Garden Initiative's urban farm was like walking through the upstairs wardrobe into Narnia.
I worked at JC Penney in 1982. Employee #750. Yes, I still remember. My department was ground zero for the sales of hundreds of Sony Walkmen...
Social media is a roller coaster ride that never lets you get off.
When I met Dan Atkinson in his studio on Vliet Street, I was fully expecting to discuss his work making planters out of cream city brick. And, while we...
Imagine this bizarre fantasy: Aliens from another galaxy finally decide to show themselves, and they lower their frisbee-like spaceship towards Milwaukee.
In the pantheon of pop/rock music there are only a handful of iconic duos – those whose voices mesh together seamlessly, whose songwriting and approach...
There was a something happening in the late 60s and early 70s where bands – and a whole bunch of them – found their own voice very quickly...
If Lebron James joined the Milwaukee Bucks, it would change the course of a franchise -- most likely from “up and coming” to “arrived.” But how would...
It’s hard to say whether or not my job found me or I found it. There’s a great possibility that some divine power above chose to marry two desperate...
Harmony guitar parts and beautiful layered melodies are popping out of the speakers in my Volkswagen and I sadly cannot take my hands off the wheel...
Ian McCullough, Aka Cullah, Wrote One Of The Greatest Songs About Being A Full Time Musician I’ve Ever Heard
Ian McCullough has released 11 albums since 2006. Every one of those albums was released on his birthday, April 27. This is not by accident...
At night, the most iconic part of Milwaukee’s skyline rests in the background in the dark. You can see its shape, lifeless, and sometimes the moon...
In the hall of fame of days, Sunday is a first balloter. Plans and obligations be damned. I’m going to mindlessly surf twitter and there’s nothing you...
I’m hanging out at The Vanguard in Bayview, waiting for Nick and Ryan from Milwaukee’s Midwest Death Rattle to join me. Looking over the menu...
It’s easy to daydream yourself into a lifestyle that isn’t quite as cluttered and scattered as your own; something sleek and minimal that’s beautiful...
This adventure started innocently enough; I wanted to buy a birthday gift for my wife. She is fond of these bird paintings we had seen at various...
The mismatched mix of tables and chairs in the dining room at La Merenda is slightly unexpected as your host/hostess walks you to your table.
The Cal-Neva is a casino in downtown Reno, Nevada on 2nd Street. And as I walk through the doors I imagine the hardened gamblers, cowboys...
There’s an old Nordic Folk song titled “Varulven” which, translated to English is “The Werewolf.” It’s a Little Red Riding Hood type of story...
Parents have a way of making anything seem unappealing. They do it by saying you have to do it. There is a burning rebellion within you that fights this.
On a recent cold Sunday I caught up with local filmmaker Carol Brandt at her quiet, warm co-lab space for a handful of filmmakers from Milwaukee.
The mission of Commonstate is to champion creative thinking in every community, in every field. Filmmakers, musicians, fine artists, chefs, public servants and architects alike are at home here. And just because you don’t make art doesn’t make you less...
Steve Kodis, one of countless immensely talented people who have willingly traded in a bit of freedom for a lot of responsibility.
I made a list of all sides of Milwaukee I wanted to enjoy before drifting away from the Midwest and the tea service at The Pfister was at the top.
I’m sitting in the back of Buckley's sipping bourbon waiting for Drew Britton to arrive. Drew has just returned from the Slamdance Film Festival.
As the Eagles claimed their “World Championship” crown after the Super Bowl, the saber rattling began around who led the pack in this year’s commercials.
There is one thing I hate more than winter: shitty mugs. I’m a mug snob. I’m not ashamed to admit that. As a young(ish) person who recently breached year 30, born and raised in the Midwest, appropriate dishware for combating the winter blues is paramount.
I received a Facebook event invite from an old high school friend. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – you get those kitchen gadget, nail stickers, weight loss shake invites, too. This one was a little different. “Tarot and past life readings at Lost Valley Cider Co.” Huh.
On a random Saturday in late-September, I got a text from a good friend saying “comedown to Veteran’s Park!” I probably replied with mentioning how I had to head to yoga and carried on my day. Little did I know what he had up his sleeve.
When photographer Kelly Bolter said she would meet me in Wauwatosa, I threw out the names via chat of a few of these newer establishments...
Zach pointed out a few of the product designers in the store when I visited; Kinto from Japan, Most Modest out of San Francisco, Good Thing from Brooklyn. And, if you want to see a pair of Raen sunglasses or a TOPO Designs backpack in person, Commonplace is your spot.
I was standing in the recording room at the Exchange Recording Complex on National Avenue, with Brian Wooldridge. He’s pulling his Epiphone Coronet out of its case and I’m salivating at the sight of it; the Coronet has always been one of my favorite guitars, double cutaway, the iconic Epiphone “E” on the pickguard, the grit.
I’m 51-years-old and have worked out my whole life. I enjoy it. I’ve belonged to every club you can imagine. Getting my 45 minutes to an hour of exercise on a regular basis is important to me. I pretty much work out to maintain my dad-bod and stoke my fake sense of confidence that I have a semblance of fitness.
Have you met Steve Landish? He’s the guy who runs the bar at Kindred on Kinnickinnic Ave. By all accounts, at least in the three or so times I have talked to him, Steve is kind of brilliant. He talks about ingredients, how they work together, and generally is hush-hush about exact quantities he puts into the drinks. Go with it.
Mike Alt, sitting to my left, looked over at me, grinning. Then he laid down this gem: “I went to about 8 or 9 thrift shops before I came here tonight.”
Welcome to Commonstate, a tribute to the creative thinkers in every community who believe that a culture of creativity is a better culture for all. These are the innovators and people who see the world differently and for the better, who through the movement of a pen, or the stroke of a brush, the click of a shutter or a singular vision for business are fearlessly themselves. Commonstate celebrates them all.