On December 15, 2023, four Whitefish Bay High School Alumni were inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame.
Jackie Thompson contributed the biographies below which were read during the Fine Arts Assembly at WFB High School on December 15, 2023 when the awards were presented.
Daniel Boico: Conductor, Class of 1987
Described by critics as "dynamic, vigorous, exciting and imaginative-an undisputed star who combines magnetic charisma with a skilled technique," Israeli-American conductor Daniel Boico is the artistic director and CEO designate of the Free State Symphony Orchestra, as well as Associate Guest Conductor of the KZN Mzansi Philharmonic.
In 1983, Daniel (then aged 14) and his family immigrated to the US from Paris, France when his violinist father joined the UWM Fine Arts Quartet, the longest running string quartet in the world! Fast forward to Dan's junior year at WFB HS. He and friend Adam Shider were sitting in this very auditorium watching musical rehearsals. Adam said, "You know, I can see you doing that!" This is where fate kicks in... His class schedule for senior year had one opening and Dan approached the legendary Randall Swiggum, auditioned for the choir and, as a result, became a member of concert choir, plus the men's and jazz groups.
Later in his senior year, Daniel Boico auditioned for Roger and Hammerstein's "King & I" musical and got the part of the King...an eye-opening experience!
Looking back, Daniel believes he would not have become a professional musician if it wasn't for Swiggum's spirit, dedication, and love for his kids. In college, Daniel enrolled as a music education major in order to take conducting courses. He believes there is something magical about using gestures to communicate musically with an ensemble. Thirty-five years later, Daniel still thanks his inspiring mentors--Randy Swiggum, Robert Fountain, his dad, Uncle Victor, and Ilya Musin.
Niels Mueller: Film writer/Director. Class of 1979
Niels Mueller is and award-winning writer and director. His films have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world and garnered millions of dollars at the global box office. Reflecting on his time at WFB, Niels remembers how the school prepared he and his three siblings well to forge ahead in each of their chosen careers. Niels compliments the entire English Department for success. Ms. Martin made him understand "Point of View"---something very crucial for a filmmaker to grasp as whose story you're telling as director informs everything down to where you place the camera. Also, Mr Angelos captured Niels' interest in composing poetry. In World Lit, Mrs. Ladogiannis encouraged the class to bring the stories to life by "putting them up on their feet" and performing in class! Frau Pohlmann fascinated Niels with the German culture and literature using great stories and perspectives. So, no surprise, at Tufts University, Niels received a BA degree in International Relations and German Studies. To Niels, film is the most collaborative of the arts. It takes a team to make a film with so many moving parts and personalities. He states that a director needs to figure out how to get everyone in sync and working toward the same goal. THerefore, Niels' soccer team did just that. Soccer became a team sport and the Blue Dukes won WFB's first soccer state championship in 1978. Close to home, Small Town Wisconsin is Niels' most recent feature which he produced and directed. Last summer it was premiered at the Oriental Theater, starring Kristin Johnston, and many actors as well as producers with midwestern roots and is a love letter to Milwaukee. The picture was hailed by film critic, Jason Whyte, as "a flat out American masterpiece."
Justin Maas: Portrait Artist, Class of 1990
Canadian Justin Maas has succeeded as a full time professional illustrator, fine artist, and graphic designer for 20+years. He works primarily in pastel, acrylic, and watercolor. Just believes technical skill is definitely a part of his craft, but that the real key to creating art is to elevate it beyond pure ability or skillful use of a brush. He takes great pride in attempting to translate what he sees as lights (and darks) into a powerful, two-dimensional piece. This philosophy is stressed in his book: Drawing Realistic Pencil Portraits Step by Step: Basic Techniques for the Head and Face. Interestingly, Justin stresses that all kids draw and that as we grow, other things become more interesting to most of us: baseball, music, video games---but "artists" are the kids who never find something that fully takes over that passion. Justin was fortunate to already be in that mindset when he attended WFB from 1986 to 1990. BUT, it was a program in his senior year that really solidified that and laid the foundation for his entire career. That program was "Art Satellite." As a senior, he spent every afternoon second semester at the Milwaukee Art Museum studying, drawing, and painting directly from master works by Rodin, Picasso, Monet, O'Keefe, Caillebotte and so many others...and it was even better than he had imagined! Over the years, Justin has studied with many great artists and had a number of exceptional opportunities but he stresses that he is not sure if any of the above would have come to fruition without that foundation laid by the art program offered here at Whitefish Bay! Justin resides in British Columbia and his works can be found there and all over North America, Europe, and parts of South America.
Dan Kois: Writer, Class of 1992
Daniel Kois is an author, journalist, arts critic, and performer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He has penned three non-fiction books - one, The World Only Spins Forward, is a history of the play Angels in America, and is a Stonewall Honor title. Acting as senior editor, Dan writes features, criticism, and essay for Slate as well as the New York Times and others. He is a recipient of numerous awards. Both writing and performing theater and comedy around the country has kept Dan busy. Where did Dan get the motivation to pursue his literary career? His freshman English teacher, Tracy Thiel, sent him to the writing lab to write "whatever you want!" during composition lessons. He chuckles that he is not sure if he was "too annoying to have in class" or what, but Dan is positive her encouragement directed him to find the love of writing--all kinds. THen, Frank Laycock put together a show called "Plays and Poems for Peace" just as the Gulf War was ramping up. It was a spirited and somewhat controversial anti-war anthology which moved Dan as a young performer and so then Dan was launched into the world of podcasts, features, blogs and essays!
Here are some picture from after the ceremony with family and friends.