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Wauwatosa artist Eddee Daniel photographs urban story of Menomonee River Valley

Artist Eddee Daniel is seen inside the Zimmerman Design Group studios Tuesday, May 13, in Milwaukee. Daniel is an artist-in-residence at Zimmerman and is focusing on the Menomonee Valley with his photography.

Artist Eddee Daniel is seen inside the Zimmerman Design Group studios Tuesday, May 13, in Milwaukee. Daniel is an artist-in-residence at Zimmerman and is focusing on the Menomonee Valley with his photography. Photo By Peter Zuzga

May 14, 2014

Eddee Daniel doesn't live in Menomonee Valley, but he sure is connected to it.

Since moving to Wauwatosa in 1988 with his wife and two kids, Daniel has followed the Menomonee River through Wauwatosa to the Valley, where the transforming urban landscape has captured his artistic eye.

As artist-in-residence at Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Daniel displays landscape and portrait photography of Menomonee Valley's key players and business developments. He captures images of the Marquette University freeway interchange, groundbreaking at Rishi Tea's $4.9 million headquarters and headshots of professionals making roots in the area, among others.

"All of this is a great urban story," Daniel said. "This is an unusually integrated process. Not only is it bringing in jobs, but preserving the natural landscape."

The display is still a work in progress, as Daniel's AIR is one year in length. Already, he's collected quite a portfolio.

Daniel has been shooting photos of the Menomonee Valley since he started writing his book, "Urban Wilderness: Exploring a Metropolitan Watershed," which was published in 2008. Many of his photos juxtapose industrial development with natural shrubbery and foliage.

Now, the Menomonee River is just one chapter of the story Daniel chooses to tell of the Valley with photographs, but is no less important.

In one triptych, or a work that is divided into three sections, Daniel captures the land intended for Palermo's Pizza on West Canal Street, across the river from Three Bridges Park, with the river uniting the two developments at the center of the composition.

"The sum is greater than the parts because your eye reads them like a narrative," Daniel said.

While many of Daniel's photographs are triptychs, he looks forward to broadening his coverage with portraits of key players in the Valley.

One portrait in the form of a triptych features the owners of Fyxation bike shop. The owners live in Glendale but chose to base their business in the Valley because of its proximity to the Bicycle Federation.

Another portrait features Curt Zimmerman, an architect helping create Menomonee Valley's master plan 2.0. Zimmerman Architectural Studios itself is housed in a "recycled" Eschweiler industrial building.

"We wanted to embrace the celebration of arts and artists in our community; the Valley is certainly a resurgence of that," said Mark Zimmerman, vice president of the architectural firm.

Zimmerman used to be located where Cafe Hollander is in Tosa Village from 1979 until 2009. Before that, it operated on Mayfair Road near Currie Park.

"Our office was on the same river and same tracks that we are now in (the Valley)," Zimmerman said. "We are just down stream. I find that a pleasant irony because Milwaukee's got to be successful for Wauwatosa to be successful, and visa versa."

Daniel's photography will be available for the public at the next Gallery Night in July. It is also available for viewing online at EddeeDaniel.com or on Flickr.com.

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