Home and Lifestyle

50 things that give Madison color

Feast your eyes upon Madison's many vibrant shades

Madison emerged this spring from the dreary shades of winter with a sense of renewal. This reawakening of the colorful growing season inspired us to celebrate the many things that give Madison its glorious color.

In kaleidoscopic hues and tones, color helps define a place and its people. Color can help us understand the world and has the power to influence. Take the case of the Albanian mayor who helped paint his town’s buildings in a rainbow of colors. Now the prime minister of Albania, Edi Rama transformed the industrial cityscape of Tirana, Albania, into a work of art.

Since then, crime has declined in the town, and Rama credits the project for bringing about the positive change.

Color not only sparks creativity and imagination, it can also be inspiring.

“As we become more sophisticated about health and well-being, people will embrace [color] more,” says Jane Earl, an experienced color consultant living in Madison. “One of the things that makes you feel better is surrounding yourself with the right colors.”

In this story, learn about Earl and her award-winning universal design concept, plus others who use color in their respective industries. Meet an artist who captures the black aesthetic in her portraits, a clothing line founder who is digging the 2019 color of the year and a partially colorblind man who doesn’t let his disability deter him from working with color. Also discover some of the city’s brightest food offerings and most eye-catching artwork.

These examples signify the exceptionally diverse and distinctive qualities that make Madison the place that it is. Feast your eyes upon the many vibrant shades that define Madison.

1. Terrace Chairs

QUICK — can you name the three colors of the Wisconsin Union’s iconic terrace chairs? If you said orange, yellow and green, you’re only partially correct. In 1981, Wisco Industries Inc. in Oregon, Wisconsin, was commissioned to create the sunburst chairs. At that time, the three colors were named John Deere green, Allis Chalmers orange and sunshine yellow. The John Deere, Allis Chalmers (both farm equipment manufacturers) and sunshine colors are an ode to Wisconsin’s farming traditions, but they also represent the fall, summer and spring seasons when the chairs can be found on the terrace along Lake Mendota. The lake also inspired a limited-edition chair color in 2012 — “Mendota Blue” chairs were on the terrace for a single season to raise awareness and donations for the union’s renovation project, which was completed in 2017. The three signature colors were trademarked in 1988, so you won’t find chairs painted in those three colors anywhere else in the world. Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at how the terrace chairs are made.

2. Rainbow Latte

Café Domestique created this rainbow latte just for our color story. The trendy drink is a social media superstar, but not many rainbow lattes have appeared in Madison. Café Domestique owner Dan Coppola says he and his staff shy away from adding food coloring to the drink just for the sake of giving it color, but he says staff is experimenting with Fruity Pebble-infused milk for Domestique’s “over the rainbow” drink, so watch for that as a May special.

3. Sunflower Days

The town of Middleton is bringing back Sunflower Days at Pope Farm Conservancy after a yearlong absence, providing one of the brightest and largest displays of nature’s gorgeous colors. Feast your eyes on thousands of bright yellow sunflowers at the Middleton farm this year from July 26 to Aug. 4. The event drew about 90,000 people over a 10-day period in 2017.

4. Watercolor Tattoos

Madison Tattoo Co. owner and tattoo artist Oliver Kalkofen has fun adding a watercolor effect to some of his clients’ tattoos. “I use ink diluted with water to make different variations of one color and make the color richer in places,” he says. “I can change the saturation of the color depending on the mood of the tattoo.” A color tattoo heals differently than black-and-gray tattoos, Kalkofen says. The skin gets worked more in the process, so it needs more care after the appointment. He recommends adding color later to a tattoo if you aren’t sure, doing your homework on the style you go with and using SPF 50+ sunscreen after you get a color tattoo to prevent fading. 

5. This Artist's 'Tactile Meditations'

Caryn Ann Bendrick has always been bold and loud with her color choices for her artwork. “When I look out into the art world, it’s artists who work without color that I envy, because I don’t find an ability to express myself that way,” says the Madison-area tactile artist. Read more about this artist's work by clicking here.

6. Sarah Van Dyke

Sarah Van Dyke is the personification of her business, Revel. Her style and personality are as colorful and fun as the crafts she offers at her downtown workshop. She’s bright from head to toe, literally — she has pink hair and often rocks a pair of bright high heels. “We all love to surround ourselves with things that bring us joy and make us feel comfortable and happy,” Van Dyke says. For her, pink is often the color that sparks joy. After talking about doing it for 10 years, Van Dyke decided to dye her hair pink. “It’s been really fun,” she says. 

7. Hot Hair

Katlynn Werner is the hairdresser at Rejuvenation Spa in Sun Prairie who helped Sarah Van Dyke get the exact shade of pink she was looking for. “I knew she could pull off pink hair with her fun, bubbly personality,” Werner says. Bright hair colors are definitely trending this year, she says. “This season I’ve been seeing a lot of darker roots with a fun color on the ends, or pops of color for a more subtle look.” Another salon, THORPS Haircuts & Color, reports that pink and all of its shades are way “in” right now. Rose gold, coral, cotton candy, bold magenta — “we love it all!” reads a THORPS Instagram post. Click here to see more pictures of Sarah Van Dyke and Katlynn Werner's work.

8. Funky Socks

The easiest way to add a pop of color to your suit? Add bright, fun dress socks. “That’s really becoming big,” says Craig Butenhoff, co-owner of the downtown men’s attire store Jazzman. Jazzman carries Tallia and Stance socks that come in off-the-wall colors and different themes and patterns, from florals to sports to Star Wars.

9. Queens of Many Colors

Bryanna Banx$, Bianca Lynn Breeze and Anya Knees are serving looks and slaying the drag scene in Wisconsin. We asked these fabulous performers a few questions about how they give color to their characters from their makeup to their outfits to their personas. Click here to read the full interview.

10. Bright Beer

Beer has branched out in the color category. Sour, fruited and other specialty beers produce red, pink, orange and other bright shades that shine just a little brighter than the traditional golden brew. Vintage Brewing Co. debuts its Bouquet Pink IPA this month on Mother’s Day. Brewed with edible flowers, the limited-edition pour will be available at Vintage locations and Tangent, which is Vintage’s new brewpub on East Washington Avenue. Vintage also plans to partner with Food Fight Restaurant Group to offer Bouquet on tap at some Food Fight locations, with $1 per pint going to local breast cancer charities. Another spot to find bright brews is at Delta Beer Lab, the new south side brewery that has a line of beers on tap that mirror the rainbow molecular design on the brewery’s wall. “I wanted a subtle rainbow to celebrate the diversity in beer, society and ideas,” says Delta founder Tim “Pio” Piotrowski. Read more about Delta's mural and how its brewers create a rainbow of colors with beer by reading the captions in the gallery above. 

11. A Red, White and Blue Capitol

It doesn’t happen often, but the lights that shine on the Wisconsin State Capitol building sometimes change color for certain occasions. The last time the lights changed from their usual white color was in recognition of the State Capitol’s 100th Anniversary in 2017 — the dome was lit up red, white and blue for the July 5 Concerts on the Square.

12. Farmers' Market Fare

Baskets of bright red peppers, rows of purple cauliflower heads, bouquets of vibrant blooms and golden sunflowers turn Capitol Square into a living art exhibit during the Dane County Farmers’ Market. The summer season offers some of Wisconsin’s brightest and most colorful produce options, best showcased in Madison’s nationally top-ranked farmers’ market. The 2019 Saturday market season started on April 13 and will run through Nov. 16. For some tips, tricks and more info about the Madison area’s farmers’ markets, check out the “Meet Us at the Market” by clicking here. 

13. Pasture and Plenty's Pigments

Christy McKenzie, owner of Pasture and Plenty, lets seasonal produce do the work adding color to the dishes she offers at her meal kit service/catering company/farm-to-table deli on University Avenue. Pasture and Plenty’s seasonal daily market salads feature different tomatoes based on what’s in season, from green zebras to black beauties. At certain times of the year, you might find deep red beets, orange melons, golden sweet potatoes, rainbow chards or pink radishes in your bowl. McKenzie also loves using edible flowers that come from local farms or from Mushroom Mike, a Milwaukee-based forager. She often uses chive flowers, borage, honeysuckle, violets, pansies, zucchini blossoms, nasturtiums and rose petals as garnish. “Just like herbs, edible flowers can add a bright flavor to a dish,” McKenzie says. Click here to see "9 of Madison's most colorful dishes."

14. A Chameleon Skyline

Every time Kenton Fowler lifts his lens to take a picture of Madison’s skyline, he captures a unique image of the same subject that looks completely different depending on how a sunrise or sunset decides to paint the scene. “I think my favorite thing about shooting the skyline over and over again is never knowing what it’s going to look like,” says the Madison-based photographer, who runs the popular Instagram account @fowlerkenton. Mornings are his favorite times to capture skyline pictures, he says, especially in the spring and fall. He has documented cotton candy-colored sunsets that appear above and below the Capitol as the sky reflects off the lake; giant blood moons that burst with orange and red light, stealing the Capitol’s spotlight on the backdrop of a purple sky; and deep-blue and red palettes that bounce off puffy clouds as the sun rises. Each shot is a gorgeous reminder of nature’s beauty. “[There’s] something very peaceful about starting the day outside before the hustle and bustle of the day takes over,” Fowler says. To see Fowler's uncropped version of the photo above, click here.

15. The Curious Case of UW–Madison's School Colors

Don’t call it red — the University of Wisconsin–Madison school colors are white and cardinal. But how those school colors came to be still puzzles campus archivists today. Click here to read more about the story behind the school colors in a short article by Haidee Chu. 

16. Modelish Makeup

Makeup artist Cassie Frey and stylist Mikaela Schroeder beautified our cover model for the April story “Adventurous Eats.” The Arch Apothecary professionals gave our model an evening look with a bold lip and loose curls, but they also chatted with us about some daytime makeup color trends they’ve seen recently. “Soft matte eye shadows have been a huge thing over the last two years,” says Frey. “And we’ve been noticing that burnt oranges, browns, purples and rose colors have been so big.” Frey says to pair those colors with long lashes or a bushy eyebrow to be on-trend in 2019. Another hot color Frey is loving this year — skin color! Luminizing products like highlighters and rosy/peachy cheeks help emphasize glowing skin and “really show off how beautiful all our imperfections are — freckles, moles, etc.” says Frey. Click here for more behind-the-scenes pictures from the April cover shoot.

17. Capitol Tulips

It’s a sure sign of spring when the tulips surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol start to bloom. About 29,000 tulips pop up every year in a variety of colors and heights. Garden beds surrounding the walkways and balustrade contain a mix of flowering perennials, annuals and shrubbery that offer a plethora of color against the backdrop of the Capitol’s white granite dome.

18. 'The Black Aesthetic'

Ghanaian-American Rita Mawuena Benissan showcases the stunning colors of black culture in her photography exhibit “The Black Aesthetic,” on display now through this summer on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus in Ingraham Hall, Room 206. Click here to read more about the exhibit.

19. African Accouterment

When you step inside the African and American Store at 2750 E. Johnson St. in Madison, you get that same glimpse of the vivid colors of Africa. Store owners Mamadou and Mariama Diallo of Guinea, West Africa, sell African clothing, jewelry and cooking items. Read more from Fabu Phillis Carter by clicking here.

20. Macarons

Color almost always corresponds with flavor when it comes to macarons. Crystal Jones of the Madison-based Mac-A-Holics Macarons business has fun playing with shades and flavors for her pint-sized confections. Her “celebration” macaron is a funfetti birthday cake-inspired variety that’s filled with chocolate or vanilla buttercream. She’s offered a pink Neapolitan macaron in the past that had a chocolate shell and a strawberry buttercream filling. She uses Americolor gel food color for most of her macarons. Next on her list is to explore natural coloring from freeze-dried fruits.

21. L'Etoile's Edible Art

The intricate beauty of L’Etoile's well-constructed dishes are often enhanced with striking color, and it’s all intentional, says chef Tory Miller. “We definitely don’t set out to make a dish a certain color or highlight a certain color,” says the James Beard Award-winning chef. “Color for us is really about focusing on what comes natural — showcasing the natural beauty of a raw golden beet or the bright green of spinach.” They don’t add green or red oils just to give a dish color, he says. “I think that’s a mistake.” But Miller says it’s also a mistake to overlook color as part of the guest’s experience. “In the end it is still true that you eat with your eyes, so proper colors can make people excited to eat your dish even before they taste it,” Miller says. Click here to see "9 of Madison's most colorful dishes."

22. The City Flag

We’re wondering if we can find anyone who loves Madison’s city flag more than Madison Common Council Alder Maurice Cheeks. “The design and colors of our flag inspire me to remember that for many generations now, people have found themselves in this place — that was once swamp land — and have endeavored to see that this place can become a uniquely beautiful community, in this uniquely beautiful place,” says Cheeks. Read more about Cheeks’ involvement in reviving the flag’s popularity by clicking here.

23. Colorblind Pressman

Rick Smith, who has worked for USA Today and has been in the pressroom at the Wisconsin State Journal for 30 years, has his color-setting methods down to a science. But he has had to work harder than many other press managers for one peculiar reason. “I am actually colorblind,” Smith says. Read more about Smith and how he gets the job done by clicking here.

24. A Vibrant Statement

Many restaurants dedicate food items and a percentage of sales to support the LGBTQ community. Year-round at Bloom Bake Shop, you’ll find a “Love Is Love” cake and cupcake, which were created as a way to support gay marriage. “ALL love IS love,” says Bloom Bake Shop owner Annemarie Maitri. “We spread much joy through our food, our dessert and through sharing a meal together in our cafe. Why not spread an even deeper message through our creations?” Her cafe and bakery on Monroe Street celebrates National Coming Out Day every Oct. 11 by giving the entire case of baked goods a rainbow theme. June is pride month, and Bloom donates proceeds from pride-themed sugar cookies to a local LGBTQ organization. Read more about Bloom's commitment to being inclusive by clicking here.

25. The Color of the Year

This year, it’s all about “living coral,” Pantone’s 2019 color of the year. The Pantone Color Institute — the business unit within Pantone that highlights top seasonal runway colors, forecasts color trends and helps businesses choose colors for products and brands — has named the “vibrant, yet mellow” shade this year’s “it” color. Krystle Marks, founder and CEO of the Madison-based women’s clothing line Lev Apparel, says she’s a fan of living coral from a fashion standpoint. “That color is good on pretty much all skin types,” says Marks, who was a personal stylist for seven years before starting her own line along with co-owner and COO Abby Felix Winzenried. Click here for tips from Marks on how to work living coral into your wardrobe, plus more info about Lev Apparel.

26. Miko Poke Bowls

A poke bowl filled with bright pink ahi tuna, black sesame seeds and shades of green in avocado, edamame, sliced cucumber and julienned scallions might be one of the brightest meals you can eat in Madison. You can build your own bowl and make it as colorful as you want at Miko Poke on Monroe Street. Click here to see "9 of Madison's most colorful dishes."

27. Madison's New Soccer Team Logo

The designers behind Forward Madison FC’s logo decided to go with a nontraditional sports color and mascot, and the city of Madison couldn’t be more smitten with the outcome. A bright pink flamingo takes center stage on a backdrop that mimics the light blue color of Madison’s city flag. “There’s a lot of pride in the Madison flag, and we really liked the idea of maintaining that palette as much as possible,” says Kevin Longino, creative director at Planet Propaganda, the local design company that developed the logo. Longino and his team, including designer Alex Perez and account executive Karmin Arnold, kept coming back to the idea of incorporating the pink flamingo, Madison’s official bird, into the design. The plastic pink flamingo came to be a symbol of Madison after campus prankster Leon Varjian led a prank in 1979 that involved planting more than a thousand plastic flamingos on Bascom Hill. The prank later became an annual tradition and fundraiser for UW–Madison. “We were really excited about it being a really insider thing,” Longino says. Click here to see if you caught all eight hidden meanings in the logo.

28. The Red Gym

The striking brick exterior of the University of Wisconsin Armory and Gymnasium, commonly referred to as the Red Gym, has a distinctive color that defines the iconic University of Wisconsin–Madison building on Langdon Street. Inside, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of cultures that add color.

Since its time as a gymnasium and armory for male students training for the military between the 1890s and 1970s, the Red Gym has been transformed as a gathering place for students of color. While the Romanesque Revival style that characterizes the castle-like building may signal that the Red Gym is a relic of the past, it is anything but. It is rather a place where students of color, LGBTQ students and international students can find resources and community.

More than 30 years after the establishment of the Multicultural Student Center, the Red Gym now also houses International Student Services, the Black Cultural Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the startup spaces for the Latinx Cultural Center and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Student Center, which were inaugurated earlier this year.

UW–Madison student Riley Tsang is one student who advocated for the APIDA Cultural Center. “The thing with APIDA culture is that it’s less of a ‘we’re celebrating things in the past’ [and more of] a ‘we’re recognizing a shared community that’s on campus currently,’” Tsang says. Click here to read a longer version of this article written by Haidee Chu.

29. AC Hotel's Waterfall of Light

“Eye-catching” hardly scratches the surface in describing the light fixture inside the AC Hotel by Marriott Madison Downtown.

In mesmerizing fashion, the color-changing wall pulsates and swirls constantly. Visible from the corner of North Webster Street and East Washington Avenue through the hotel’s window-wrapped facade, the nearly floor-to-ceiling display features 1,248 cut crystal components backlit by about 7,000 individual LEDs. The piece is called the Dynamic Ridge Stone Wall, or the KUF wall, which is named after the Kufic alphabet, an old calligraphy form of Arabic letters that are written in long horizontal and vertical lines. The wall was created specifically for the AC Hotel, owned by North Central Group.

Manufactured by Preciosa Lighting out of the Czech Republic, the installation cost about $100,000 to create. Due to its design, the wall must be disassembled from the top down to repair an individual panel, and each stone must be dusted and cleaned individually, which takes about seven hours to complete, says Dennis Clark, AC Hotel Madison’s regional general manager.

But it seems the work is worth it. “Overall, the guests have loved it,” Clark says. “We have people taking pictures of it all the time.”

And the 45 preset colors and pattern options make for a jaw-dropping experience. “The design possibilities are virtually unlimited,” Clark says.

30. Canteen

Canteen might be Madison’s brightest restaurant. Food Fight Restaurant Group’s Mexican kitchen and bar near Capitol Square features fun wallpaper, bright paint, tassled decor and pottery that offer a different color everywhere you look. “My intention from the beginning was to make the restaurant colorful — I was inspired by the colors and funky decor found in Sayulita, Mexico,” says Caitlin Suemnicht, Food Fight’s chief creative officer and a certified sommelier. And if you think the interior of Canteen is bright and beautiful, wait until your frozen strawberry margarita and tacos get to the table. 

31. Parades & Fests

City parks and concrete streets of Madison burst into full color when a parade or festival rolls through. Here are a few parades and a festival that offer a colorful feast for the eyes and ears.

Monona Memorial Day Parade | May 27
Fourth of July Children’s Parade at Westmorland Park | July 4
Fête de Marquette parade | July 13
AtwoodFest parade | July 27
Africa Fest Parade of Nations at McPike Park | Aug. 17
OutReach magic Festival at Warner Park | Aug. 18
Willy Street Fair parade | Sept. 15

32. A Green Wedding

It’s likely one of the first things engaged couples need to decide on during wedding planning — the color palette. And it influences so many aspects of the big day, from attire to flowers to hair and makeup to decor to centerpieces. Dominique Zube, owner, lead designer and stylist at Wood Violet Events + Styling, helps her clients create a color palette from which many decisions are made. Zube says she loves using a lush green base. “It’s a neutral base that you can easily build off of,” she says. “It complements virtually every color and you can incorporate an assortment of greenery to add texture and visual interest.” 

33. Art-itecture

Murals bring color to the sides of Madison buildings and inside restaurants and businesses. One mural artist who has completed murals all over the Madison area is Zach Bartel, who most recently painted the large, colorful mural at Sun Prairie’s Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen. This mural is one of his most colorful recent works. Many of his murals use only two or three colors, but the Full Mile artwork of a woman raising a beer is full of wavy patterns and lines featuring burnt oranges, mustard yellows, dark reds and light blues. “Sometimes it’s good to get forced out of your natural groove,” Bartel says of his use of color in this piece.

34. Wall Color is Key

Jane Earl wouldn’t dream of having a white wall in her condo.

“White is a color to pass through,” she says. “White is not a neutral.”

Earl is trained in the human response to color in living spaces, which she has incorporated into her award-winning universal design concept. Wall color is an important part of creating a positive, uplifting home or work environment, but many designers overlook wall color when planning a space, she says.

She and her husband redid their condo in Madison and their remodeling contractor, TZ of Madison, entered their condo in the National Associate of the Remodeling Industry competition. It won first place locally, regionally and nationally in the universal design category, and Earl says their intentional use of color is one of the reasons it likely stood out.

Her condo features a vibrant yellow in the kitchen, a blue-green in the bathroom and a soft violet in the master bedroom and bathroom. “No matter how creative paint mixing and technology gets, we still respond most positively to colors you find in nature,” Earl says.

While part of the human response to a space’s wall color can be subconscious, it’s very much something you feel when you walk into a room, she says. And there’s data behind it — certain colors have been proven to affect people positively in a given environment. Earl, a former president of the North American Chapter of International Association of Color Consultants, is passionate about sharing her universal design concept with others to help them create better living spaces, and she advocates for universal design and the use ofcolor in affordable housing.

"Color is absolutely huge in impacting your psyche,” Earl says.

In the above photo gallery, Earl offers her suggestions for a few color combos you might consider for a living space using Hallman Lindsay paint for the walls and Annie Sloan chalk paint for an accent piece. There are also a few pictures of Earl's choices for her own condo. Click here for the printable chart. Hallman Lindsay has five locations in the Madison area, and you can find Annie Sloan chalk paint at Kate & Co. on Fitchrona Road and at Studio 184 in Stoughton.

What colors sell
Careful color choice goes beyond wall color — marketers use color to their advantage, too. “It’s really taking the idea of marketing along with the idea of how our brains are built,” says Nicole Kahl, digital campaign manager for Phase 3 Digital, a Madison marketing agency. There are certain colors that marketers and graphic designers agree stir certain emotions: Red gets people’s attention and signifies power. Blue is a trustworthy color. Green often denotes health, goodwill or the environment — it’s also the color of money and can connect to the idea of wealth. Purple is a royal color that signifies elegance or prestige. Subconsciously scary as it may be, color theory is noticeable in ads, billboards and commercials. 

35. Three Fluorescent Festivals

The Hindu Festival of Color, otherwise known as Holi, is one of the loudest, brightest and happiest days of the year in Indian culture. It marks the arrival of springtime and celebrates love, triumph over evil and color itself. In Hindu mythology, using color in Holi symbolizes when the god Krishna fell in love with Radha, but was concerned about the difference in their skin color. So they painted their faces with bright colors so they would appear the same. Madison, a melting pot of cultures, races, ethnicities, nationalities and religions, is one place where the annual holiday is honored. Every spring, there are celebrations at many local temples, including the March 23 Holi celebration at the Hindu Temple & Cultural Center of Wisconsin in Fitchburg (pictured in the above gallery). Learn more about Holi, plus two other festivals — Navaratri and Diwali — by clicking here.

36. Designs That Make a Difference

Every year for the past five years, FLOOR360, a local flooring service, has selected a local nonprofit to receive a free interior makeover. The initiative, called Design for a Difference, has given RISE Wisconsin Inc.’s Respite Center, The Rainbow Project, Centro Hispano and the East Madison Community Center beautifully redesigned spaces — all bursting with color. Thirty-plus interior designers work together to volunteer their time and talents to make the projects a reality. Interior designer Angela Skalitzky was the project manager for all four makeovers, and she says color is a wonderful tool in giving energy and life to a space. “The colors used were inspired by their logos, cultural influences or existing items or murals that were to stay in the space,” Skalitzky says. “The colors can quickly transform the space, but always make it more reflective of the spirit and personality of the staff and the kids and families who use the space."

37. This Color-Coding System

In the context of trying to shape recycling behaviors, small adjustments can lead to big changes. For University of Wisconsin–Madison professors Karen Schloss and Laurent Lessard, that change starts with making recycling bins the right color. Combining their expertise in cognitive psychology and engineering, the two researchers developed a method for designing color-coding systems that serve as self-explanatory visual cues — meaning viewers could correspond items with the right recycling bin based solely on color. They found shades of white to work most effectively with paper, red with plastic, pale blue-green with glass, and black with trash, for example. “This study was a springboard for a larger project aiming to automate creation of easily interpretable color-coding systems, with the goal of making visual communication more effective and efficient,” Schloss says. –Haidee Chu

38. Synesthesia Research

University of Wisconsin–Madison assistant professor Edward Hubbard — one of the leading synesthesia researchers in the world — calls Madison home. Synesthesia is a phenomenon Hubbard describes as a sort of mixing of the senses, in which one thing in the world causes two experiences instead of one experience. The most common examples include seeing colors for letters, numbers and music. Other variants include feeling touch for taste or having spatial locations for months of the year or days of the week. “Synesthesia was one of these things that captured my imagination,” says Hubbard, who has been studying it for almost 20 years and co-authored “The Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia.” Read more about Hubbard’s work and a possible synesthesia conference coming to Madison by clicking here.

39. Wisconsin's Fall Colors


Autumn Woman
A poem by Fabu

I sit on the back door stoop
more beautiful than I have felt in many years.
My aqua sundress billows in puffs
around glazed brown legs
while my mind reflects the clarity
of the crisp, early autumn day.

Colors are vibrant, distinct, even defiant
before the death called winter comes.
I embrace my cloth-covered knees
and lean forward smiling into life
exactly like the black & white photograph
of my mother and aunts in 1956 Mississippi.

There is a glorious redgold tree shining brighter
than the barely warming three o’clock sun.
Wind blown leaves bless my head
as they swirl and get caught in the plaited braids
of a satisfied woman who sits
on the back door stoop.

Originally published in Hybrid 43 Poets and 39 Cabs

40. Mood Lighting at The Sylvee

When done well, the light show at a concert can be just as awe-inspiring as the performance. If performers at The Sylvee, one of Madison’s newest concert venues off of East Washington Avenue, don’t have their own lighting director, Dan Edwards will run the house system and its 40 fixtures that light The Sylvee stage. “I will listen to some of the songs before show day to get a feel for the type of music it is,” says Edwards, technical manager. Then he talks to the tour or production manager the day of the show to see if there are any lighting requests. “Besides that, you just feel out each song and do everything on the fly, picking colors that fit the mood.” 

41. Wine

The shade of the wine in your glass can hint at how it was made, which grape variety was used and where it is from. Square Wine Co. owner Andrea Hillsey offers background you can use at your next tasting. Click here for five things you can learn from the color of your wine.

42. Bold Designs

This homeowner loves color and was not afraid to use it in the redesign of her Maple Bluff residence. Interior designer Erica Meier helped this client mix bold colors and patterns into her traditional home. “I greatly enjoy using color in my design projects — it brings a sense of energy and is also a wonderful tool to personalize a space for the client,” says Meier, who has worked in the design world for more than 25 years. Meier started in 1998 at Zander’s Interiors — the company her father Doug Zander founded — and she’s now preparing to be the second-generation owner of the Madison-based interior design business. This project’s bright color palette of pinks, blues and greens was influenced by the homeowner’s rugs and artwork, Meier says. “Living in Wisconsin, we have several months of gray winter weather — having a home rich in color helps offset the cold gray days and makes you smile,” Meier says.

43. Nails

Q: What nail colors are “in” right now?
A: "My clients gravitate toward cool tones year-round, plus green and blue palettes. Is glitter a color? In my world it is, and a popular one. Marbled and watercolor manicures are popular. People are getting bold with their nail art choices, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m also loving adding foiled and chrome elements to the manicures I do. A colorful manicure means you’re not afraid to express your own personal style through your nails or with nail art. I admire how every single one of my clients is just so fiercely beautiful and totally unique. We create looks based on vacations, wallpaper, the fabric of their favorite shirt — whatever inspires them." –Ashley Marie Welke, nail artist at Midwest Beauty House

44. This Colorful Voice

Mike Lucas brings color to Madison unlike anyone else featured in this list. Lucas is the color analyst for the University of Wisconsin–Madison men’s football, basketball and hockey teams. His title is pretty straightforward — the 40-plus-year veteran journalist adds color to Matt Lepay’s play-by-play calls for radio. Lucas, who has offered his color commentary for 25 seasons on the Wisconsin Radio Network and has worked over the last 10 years for uwbadgers.com, helps provide context and background to a game as Lepay describes what’s happening. “Matt Lepay is the 24-ounce porterhouse or the KC bone-in rib-eye, and I’m sort of the potatoes au gratin or loaded hash browns,” Lucas says in true color commentating fashion. “I’m the creamed spinach.” Read more about Lucas by clicking here.

45. Rainbow Bagel

Get your hands on this limited-edition hand-rolled rainbow bagel made by Joe Gaglio of Gotham Bagels. It’s a May special at Gotham Bagels, which partnered with Epicurean Chronicles for the #ECGivesBack campaign. A dollar of the $2 bagel will go to a local charity. Read more about the #ECGivesBack campaign by clicking here.

46. Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese

Wisconsin is known for its orange-colored cheddar cheese — but cheese isn’t that color naturally. Click here to find out why.

47. Baby Blues Neutrals

You might have been born yesterday (rather, before 1950) if you think pink and blue are still the “it” baby colors. Local maker Briana Raday runs her homemade baby shoe business Sun & Lace out of her Stoughton studio, and she keeps up with baby trends. Popular choices for apparel and nurseries have gone away from the signature sex-specific colors, she says. “I’ve found that people are leaning toward neutral colors, browns and creams especially,” says Raday, at least when it comes to baby shoes. Her pink leather shoes did not sell well, so she now offers cream and brown leather options. As for clothes, Raday has picked up on some trendy colors. “The colors I’m seeing are mustard, creams, blues and rust — by far the most popular color I’ve seen — for both boys and girls,” she says. “Sage and forest greens are also neutral colors I’m seeing. If it’s a blue, it’s either navy or a sky blue, not the typical ‘baby blue’ color. If it’s pink, it’s a dusty rose or mauve.”

48. Faculty of Color Reception

A tradition introduced in 2003, the Faculty of Color reception at the University of Wisconsin–Madison celebrates people of color on staff. The event was created to ensure that faculty of color feel a sense of belonging at the predominantly white institution. The annual gathering celebrates those who have been recently promoted and welcomes new peers. At the heart of the event is the spirit of community — a place where faculty of color can connect and share their experiences over food and drinks. Patrick Sims, the deputy vice chancellor chief diversity officer at UW–Madison, knows the impact staff members of color have on students on color. Sims says students have shared with him that he was the first professor of color they had. “Seeing that representation is inspiring for many of our students,” Sims says. “It creates the idea of possibility [when] someone else is right in front of them doing the thing that perhaps they may think about doing.”

49. Madison's Most Hated Color

If Madison — the city of four lakes — were to have a least favorite color, it might be blue-green, as in blue-green algae. It’s called cyanobacteria, and it’s a harmful bacterium with a pond scum consistency that forms on lakes, ponds, rivers and streams when the water is warm and enriched with nutrients like phosphorous or nitrogen. Blue-green algae has increasingly plagued Madison’s lakes the last few years, often forcing beaches to close when there are intense blooms — every beach on the Yahara River chain closed last summer because of cyanobacteria. Funny thing, though: Blue-green algae isn’t always blue-green. “Cyanobacteria can be green, blue-green, white or even brown,” says Adam Sodersten of Clean Lakes Alliance. “Spotting cyanobacteria is less about the color and more about the consistency.” One way to identify cyanobacteria is to poke a stick in the water where it appears — if it is blue-green algae, it won’t hang to the stick like algae, but has more of a paint consistency. Spotting it is important, Sodersten says, because people or pets who come into contact with it can become sick. The best way to help prevent cyanobacteria blooms is by reducing phosphorus runoff into our lakes, he says. “Rain gardens, rain barrels, strong lawns, redirected downspouts from pavement to grass and porous pavement are all great ways to slow runoff,” Sodersten says.

50. 'Drawn to Art'

“Editing ‘Drawn to Art,’ which features the Waisman Center collection of works by people with disabilities, was an invitation to wonder at the artistic talents of some pretty extraordinary people. Among the elements of the pieces that challenged the imagination and touched the heart was the incredible use of color. In the vast majority of drawings, paintings, etchings and mixed media works, colors are vivid, creative and integral to the work. The colors jump off the page and announce an artistic instinct and inspiration that is thrilling and deeply meaningful. It’s a relationship, that of color and creator, perhaps only the artist can understand. But it is clearly part of what draws all of us to art.” –Neil Heinen, editorial director of Madison Magazine and WISC-TV


Madison Magazine Subscription

Get Madison Magazine delivered to your office or home.

Gift subscriptions now available!

Subscribe Now

Health Guides

Shopping & Style

Sign-up for our event newsletter

This Week's Circulars