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Saint Kate Welcomes First Artist-in-Residence


Saint Kate–The Arts Hotel welcomed their first artist-in-residence, Jeff Zimpel. The new artist-in-residence program offers artists from the area the opportunity for an eight-month residency in the hotel, and the Cudahy-based artist’s extensive background, notable career, and overwhelming passion for his art makes him a perfect choice for the role.

Zimpel has an extensive background filled with many different career paths that has helped him hone his craft as an artist. “It’s been around 15 years of shape-shifting and rhizomatic growth. I’ve been a graphic designer, Sunday-portrait-painter, high school art teacher, community artist, graduate student, participatory artist, and artist-in-residence,” says Zimpel. “I learned much from the pop-up exhibit hustle and from working with students as an artist-educator.”

The art is magnetic, with a focus on creating a live environment that is full of bold colors and funky style. “Passersby are drawn into my studio through light and shadow, sound and color, movements and rhythms, and as we make our way through the gallery doors we enter an ecosystem of creative potential,” says Zimpel. “This space is in a constant state of transformation, like a healthy forest.” Zimpel’s work focuses on a middle ground between painting and photography and getting to experience it firsthand is a transformative experience that makes a trip to Saint Kate worthwhile. 

Zimpel’s artist-in residency offers the public opportunities to join him on the creation of one-of-a-kind work using unconventional mediums. “My work is about offering our attention to the living community within this artist’s workspace and creating compositions out of endless combinations of tools, techniques, ideas, and collaborators. My studio invites you to alter your perception. Surround yourself with the elements of mark-making: the tools, the media, and a multitude of surfaces,” says Zimpel. “Grind colorful rocks into dust so that we might paint fantastical visions of the living world—the one that produced such vibrant color. Gather paint brushes from the shores of Lake Michigan and suspend them in windows to cast slow dancing shadows of an ancient technology. This studio is alive.”

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Creating art in a hotel setting is a new experience for Zimpel. “In my first two weeks I have met musicians, poets, visual artists, engineers, parents, students, and creative travelers. The space itself is alive and full of energy, which are the ideal conditions for artmaking and idea sharing,” exclaims Zimpel.

“As an artist, my work is about creating compositions of participation,” he continues. “A potential always exists for a more symbiotic relationship between the artist and communities—it feels good when the creative spirit is acknowledged in any and every community member. The benefit for the artist is that each and every participant has something to teach. If you’re interested in seeing a special version of community engagement, join us at the studio on Gallery Night (Oct. 21, 5 p.m.) or Saturdays for tours of Saint Kate’s permanent collection, feature exhibitions and my studio inside the hotel.”

As Saint Kate’s first artist-in-residence, Zimpel’s work will set the precedent for future artists that will work with the hotel. With the support of the St. Kate team and an extreme amount of talent, it seems he is up to the task. Zimpel says, “This residency is a big deal for nurturing the arts ecosystem in the greater Milwaukee area. Setting up an artist to create without the constant need to hustle and sling work, allows for ideas to embed themselves in the studio space and grow something wonderful. It is a dream honor for me to be connected to the next artist in residence, and the next, and the next…this studio is alive!”

Jeff Zimpel will work as St. Kat—The Art Hotel’s artist-in-residence through February 2023. For more information on his residency and artwork, visit Saint Kate Artist In Residence – Jeff Zimpel | Saint Kate Arts Hotel.

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