Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The sad part is that when I look around, my office looks exactly like it did on Monday morning when I got to work. No fair!
But I can now pull out file cabinet drawers without worrying about toppling the whole unit or having a volcano of paper spew out. I can fit all the things that need to be kept under lock-and-key in chronological order on their proper shelves. I can even put my hands on current grant files and recordkeeping binders more quickly.
It may not look different, but it sure feels different. I felt almost giddy coming to work this morning, and once I know everything is safely in the hands of Industrial Recyclers of Wisconsin (IROW) for shredding, I’ll sleep like a baby.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I have the great pleasure of being inspired daily – by a colleague, a volunteer, a visitor (young visitors are my favorites; they never hold back!), or an artwork. I suppose it’s one of the many reasons I went into the museum field. I find museums to be a giant pilot light for inspiration.
I digress . . .
Scratchboard artist-in-residence Paula Waterman sparked inspiration among all those with whom she interacted.
During Paula’s October residency she met with Wausau East High School art students just as they were to begin their scratchboard unit (perfect timing).
Paula definitely inspired these students in the way she works, through her powerful imagery, or simply by her presence.
East art specialist Joel Pataconi copied me on an email he sent to Paula, thanking her for sharing her experiences and attaching images of scratchboards completed by students Paula worked with.
There’s no question that Paula left a mark on these students.
Impressed? I am! This is an awesome aspect of my job; I witness sparked inspiration and creativity in action.
Don’t be jealous – be inspired!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Kathy Foley and I got an early start, taking an 8am taxi to Penn Station to catch the Long Island train to Babylon. Riding the train is a special treat for me. As a lifelong resident of the Midwest, rail travel is not a normal mode of transportation, so I was eager for this journey. The hour-long trip passed quickly as Kathy and I chatted about the scenery and the impending visit to Virginia Eckbelberry.
Mrs. Eckelberry (as I always called her) was the wife of wildlife artist Don Richard Eckelberry, the connection that brought us together. Don died in 2001 and their artist friends, including many regular Birds in Art participants, encouraged her to seek assistance to preserve the body of Don’s work that remained in the house and studio. She invited Kathy and me to visit their residence and offer conservation assistance. We spent that first day getting acquainted, sharing a fabulous pasta Alfredo lunch Mrs. Eckelberry prepared (she was a gourmet cook), discussing Don’s artwork and options to preserve it, and getting a tour of Babylon.
I have many memories of our first meeting: the spritely woman who met us at the train, the stylish hat she wore, her huge smile, and what had to be the longest surviving Datsun sedan on earth. The vehicle looked to be in good repair though Mrs. Eckelberry did mention she believed it to be the oldest running “non-collector” car in Babylon. While the exterior was intact, years of Long Island dampness had taken a toll on the interior, which was riddled with mold and had an overpowering musty odor. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the roads in Babylon are narrow and winding, and I suspect Mrs. Eckelberry had a slight perception problem as we narrowly missed parked vehicles and curbs as we careened down the roadways. All priceless memories.
Happily, that was the first of many visits and, as I write this, I realize I could relate dozens of stories from our gatherings over the years. Mrs. Eckelberry was a pioneer in many ways: a 1937 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, a woman with a long and distinguished textile-design career, a world traveler, an accomplished artist, and a wife who supported her husband in his artistic endeavors. She and Don were instrumental in founding the Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad. I could go on and on.
Sadly, Mrs. Eckelberry died on October 18th. With her passing comes the realization there will be no twice-yearly visits to Babylon, long lunches spent in wide-ranging conversation, pampering her cat Victoria as if she were my own, that this is truly the end of a fascinating period I doubt will ever be matched. But I trust Mrs. Eckelberry knows that Don’s work will be cared for and exhibited, that my memory of our time together is treasured, and our encounters made me a better person. My hope is that her many friends and admirers will come to think of the Woodson Art Museum as the new home of the Eckelberry treasures and be reassured they are safe and secure as well as loved and used.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The exhibition’s final week is a bittersweet time. So many hours are spent preparing Birds in Art – from posting the prospectus to logging entries and from catalogue editing and fact checking to the actual installation – that its nine-week run just seems to go too fast.
But it’s more than the passage of time that gets my attention. It’s the enjoyment that I get from walking through the galleries, looking again and again at artworks that pique my interest for different reasons day after day. It’s the steady stream of enthusiastic visitors, their chatter, and their often heartfelt comments left on post-it notes for others – including staff – to read.
These are among the things that I’ll miss, even though we’re already at work on the 2010 Birds in Art exhibition and have a full and demanding schedule of exhibitions and programs to keep us more than busy between now and next fall.
Birds in Art is, well, Birds in Art. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about it that just makes the exhibition special, like a good friend you can count on, but who also keeps you on your toes. There’s both a comfort factor and a challenging factor at play and I’ll miss both when the exhibition closes on November 15.
On a positive note, there’s still time to take in Birds in Art 2009, whether it’s for the first time, a return visit, or one last look. I’ll be making the most of these final days.