On Thursday I headed to Milwaukee to meet with Martha Monroe, the new curator for the Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Museums. An intern from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will be working with the Villa’s Cyril Colnik collection this summer, so I came out to share some of the research I’d turned up after documenting some of Colnik’s work for the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database just over a year ago. One of the topics we discussed is the connection between Colnik and Samuel Yellin, a metalworker in Philadelphia in the early twentieth century. Both men were trained in Europe and established successful shops in the United States around the turn of the century, both created ornamental ironwork for public buildings as well as private homes, and both worked in a variety of revival styles.
The Villa’s Colnik collection is extensive and impressively comprehensive–it include dozens of examples of work from Colnik’s shop as well as blueprints, drawing, business records, tools, and replicas of some of his metalworking processes (created by contemporary Wisconsin ironworker Dan Nauman of Bighorn Forge). It’s a true gem that, when carefully cataloged (and perhaps someday made fully available online) will provide an invaluable resource for craftspeople, historians and community members.
I’m heading to the Villa again on May 21st to present a public talk on the Colnik collection and the database project.
Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.