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Milwaukee Creatives Energize Grand Ave.

Arts groups collaborate to lease space in Shops of Grand Avenue

MILWAUKEE, WI –Three creative and established arts groups: Milwaukee Comedy, Inc., home to the annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, along with Pink Banana Theatre Co., providing new opportunities in theatre, and Studio Kristelle an open artist studio, officially announce a new office/rehearsal/studio space in the Shops of Grand Avenue as part of the Creativity Works Here program.

Approximately 10,000 square feet on the lower level of the Plankington building will host the three creative ventures. Each organization will operate independently of one another, but will share spaces and resources including marketing, box office services, etc. “Working together just made sense, economically and creatively.” Said Matt Kemple, founder of Milwaukee Comedy Inc., and Artistic Producer of Pink Banana Theatre Co. “Each company has different strengths that can be utilized in unique ways.”

The three companies will each offer different workshops, space rental and artistic undertakings along with administrative offices. Milwaukee Comedy and Pink Banana Theatre will both offer rehearsal space and small performances. Studio Kristelle will focus on music, dance, writing and art and allow the public the opportunity to stop in and visit her studio and observe art in progress.

Businesses including Art Milwaukee and Spreenkler Talent Labs currently occupy spaces in the Grand Avenue through the Creativity Works Here program, an effort to attract artists, creative companies and entrepreneurs. The model was developed by management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, at a mall in St. Louis, MO


Milwaukee Comedy, Inc., founded in 2008 as the parent organization of the annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, provides educational advancement, resources, performance opportunities and public entertainment in order to strengthen the community through laughter and positive forms of expression. Operations have expanded in 2012 to sponsor and produce local comedy events, offer comedy-related workshops and enhance its promotion of the local comedy community. www.MilwaukeeComedy.com

Pink Banana Theatre Co., founded in 2004, was created to provide professional opportunities to emerging artists. The company offers a refreshing alternative to the more traditional shows often seen in the Milwaukee theatre world. www.pinkbananatheatre.com

Studio Kristelle began in 1990 as a small graphics arts business designing logos for Native American entrepreneurs. Today, Studio Kristelle aims to provide an accessible multi-creative environment for Artists who need a place to share their creative talents with the community and a place for the community to enjoy exploring their creative self with passionate Artists. www.studiokristelle.me


Building a Deck

So I built a deck for my girlfriend Dawn’s dad, Gordy. I have never taken on a project quite like this by myself before.

Original Deck
Here's the original deck and steps.

Long story short, there was a small deck already in place that was starting to become rickety and fall apart, so a new one would need to be built, and why make it the same size? Bigger is always better. Last fall, they thought way ahead and added a sliding glass door off the living room.  Due to an accident, a handicap ramp needed to be installed quite suddenly , so the insurance company assembled one about 16 feet long off the existing decking.  In order to use the new door, two small steps were built to connect to the ramp temporarily.

I took the old deck apart piece by piece, which was no easy task! The original deck was put together with framing nails, so I pretty much only used a hammer and circular saw to take it all apart. I made some temporary steps using the old deck steps and screwed it all together to make sure it didn’t move around and was safe.

Taking the old deck apart.
Taking the old deck apart.

After a few days, I removed the temporary steps and remaining structure to measure everything out and figure out were the post holes would be dug.  The old deck was built over conduit feeding electrical going to the garage, so I had to take very careful measurements to make sure problems didn’t come up later.

Taking a deck apart part 2
Temporary steps in place, time to call it a day.

We hired a company to dig the holes and pour the concrete, which was a good idea because the soil had a huge amount of rocks where the holes needed to go, and would have taken literally weeks to dig by hand.  It took a Cat two full days to dig the eight holes.  Deck holes in Wisconsin must be dug below the frost line, which is 4 feet deep! Any shallower and the deck could shift off the house from freezing and thawing over time. This obviously could make things very unsafe.

Look at that!

The day after the holes were finished, the inspector came by in the morning and approved the holes and the concrete was poured. Metal brackets were inserted into the concrete before it dried so the posts could be mounted and secured with bolts.  The hard part is getting the posts set perfectly to one another to ensure the deck is level and square. It can cause major problems with the construction of the deck if the joists are not built correctly from the start.

Deck joist construction
The start of building!

We attached the main beams on either side of the posts, and added additional supports when two beams needed to be joined together.  The decks dimensions are 8′ x 20′, much nicer than the five foot square of the old! Posts needed to be measured and cut to the proper height for the deck pieces on the top layer, and metal framing brackets needed to be installed to hold everything in place. This part took much longer than I thought, but still only two days for this part.

Deck Joists in place
All in place, ready for the actual decking.

After all the joists are in place, additional support is added to the ends of the joists.  The beginning of this can be seen in the photo to the right. After this, the deck part can go down!  This was by far the most time consuming part.  I built the framing and joists out of treated wood beams.  The deck part used was Trex, which I think is recycled plastic, but it looks just like wood and should last much longer.  In the end it looked really nice but was very hard to work with. Cutting and drilling was a bit harder than traditional pine, and every hole had to be pre-drilled so the material would not crack or split!  In the end, the deck turned out great, but took a very long time.  It’s always good to be familiar with the materials you are using, and never be afraid to ask questions!

Deck almost finished
The top is there, just need a railing!