Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Sunny Yellow Flag for a Great Place, 1975

I recently came across this photo of local artist Leland (Lee) Tishler, who won a 1975 contest to redesign Milwaukee's city flag. As you might remember from my lengthy article last year, this was one of a series of Milwaukee flag design contests held during the 20th Century.

–Journal Photo
Artist L.G. Tishler displayed his winning design for a new city flag.
Tishler's entry was a notched yellow banner featuring symbols of Milwaukee's people, parks, industry and lakefront.

His original design, seen in the wire photo above, included three male figures across the top. In the inclusive spirit of the time, these were revised to an adult male and female flanking a female child.

It is very 70s in its bold iconography, isn't it?

In recognition of his work, Tishler was awarded a $100 savings bond at a ceremony at City Hall, and then his design was quietly shelved. The common council considered borrowing bits and pieces of it for another composite design, but ultimately abandoned it.

This is a fantastic find - I'm going to update the original post to include this and the 1950 design winner.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Bold Civic Banner, 1950

I recently came across this wire photo, which gives us a look at what Milwaukee's flag might have been.

The contest for a Milwaukee flag was won by this entry at the city hall Tuesday. It was designed by Alfred P. Dannenmann (not shown), 17, of 2859 N. 4th st. Shown are Carl P. Dietz, chairman of the city art commission, and Francesco Spicuzza, an artist and a member of the commission. The first prize was a $100 savings bond.
As discussed in a series of lengthy posts last year, the 1950 contest was one of many over the past century-plus to create a timeless flag for the Cream City. This is the first time I was aware of the name of the winning entry's designer. He was just seventeen years old at the time.

We previously saw this design in a Milwaukee Journal photo of some of the designs entered into the competition.

With this wire photo and a little Photoshop magic, we get a pretty good look at the design.

I find that I don't dislike the design. There's a real draftsman quality to it. Of course, it's way too wordy, which is a huge pitfall in vexillological design. Do "HOMES", "INDUSTRY", and "SHIPPING" really need to be labeled? That aside, the central image of gears and lightning bolt, stripped of the other elements, might have made for a fine municipal design. It seems very much of its time; very industrial-optimistic, very Reddy Kilowatt. And unfortunately, we can only imagine what Mr. Dannenmann's color scheme was. I'd like to think he chose a light blue for his background, as the eventual city banner featured.