Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Team USA drew a good grouping that offered the potential for advancement. With a bit of luck and hard work, the team went undefeated in the first round for the first time in the history of the tournament.
Things looked promising going into single elimination with the first game against Ghana. Unfortunately, as in the previous World Cup, Ghana proved to be too much for Team USA and, alas, our hopes were dashed.
Like the US soccer team, I’m fortunate to work with a great team at the Woodson Art Museum.
Last week we had our work cut out for us as three exhibitions closed and three new exhibitions had to be readied and installed in the galleries. Teamwork and effective working relationships developed over many years allowed us to get the exhibitions installed while also making it possible for me to watch the US play Slovakia on Wednesday morning in a nail biting 2-2 tie.
Although the US’s World Cup experience ended sooner than I would have liked, team members played with heart. They are a team to be proud of and there’s reason to be hopeful that in four years we can go to Brazil and shine at the next World Cup.
Whether or not you’re watching the remaining soccer matches, Team Woodson offers three new exhibitions sure to intrigue and entertain the whole family this summer.
The New Reality fills three galleries with tantalizing contemporary paintings – still lifes, landscapes, portraits, and more – inspired by the work of historic masters.
Peanuts at Bat!, features Charles M. Schultz cartoons and collectibles devoted to Charlie Brown and his gang and everyone’s favorite summer pastime – baseball. With dozens of cartoons and cases filled with collectibles, this exhibition is a home run!
If you enjoy comic book art and today’s graphic novels, then you’ll want to check out I Wanna Draw Comics When I Grow Up, including more than two dozen drawings by Chicago-based illustrator Tim Seeley along with six fully illustrated comics that he began drawing when just 12 years old and living in north central Wisconsin.
Team Woodson is proud to present these terrific exhibitions. Plan a visit today and see for yourself.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Where have these years gone? My children were 6 and 10 years old in 1977 and they’re now 39 and 43! I was fresh off a three-year stint teaching English at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Wausau. Not knowing what to do after I decided to leave education, I applied for a clerical position at the Chamber of Commerce, where I soundly failed a typing test. The kind folks there told me that the one-year-old art museum in town (did I even know Wausau had an art museum??) was looking for someone who could spell and write. Sounded do-able. I applied, got the job, and found myself in a whole new world.
And what a great world it’s been.
What will I miss most? Working with colleagues who have a great sense of humor yet take what they do seriously, aren’t afraid to tackle new projects, and put up with me when I write memos like “More Than Three Little Pigs” (to remind us all to clean up after ourselves in the break room!).
After that will be the variety of art I’ve come to know about through the works the Museum collects and through our awesome changing exhibitions. I took a couple of art history classes at UWMC in the mid-1980s, but I’ve learned so much more through my experiences at the Woodson. The good thing is I can still come back to see, enjoy, and learn every time a new exhibition opens.
Last but not least will be the many artists, authors, and program presenters I’ve come to know. Everybody seems to remember Jimmy Stewart’s visit in 1987, but I like to recall pop-up book artist Robert Sabuda, who wanted to go to Wal-Mart while he was here because he never gets to do that in New York City! And children’s book artist Denise Fleming, who told of a hilarious flatulation experience that had everyone at dinner aching from laughing so hard.
And how about all the Birds in Art artists who’ve visited the Museum over the years! So many of them feel like members of my extended family; in fact, I see some of them more than I do my extended family! I’ve told a number of artists in the 2010 exhibition that I’m planning to be out of town during this September’s opening weekend because otherwise I’d inevitably be drawn into the “force field” that their energy and excitement creates.
It’s time to let go and say goodbye to the Woodson Art Museum – my second happy home these many years.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The last couple weeks have been a blur of airports, buses, trains, subways, museums, conferences, and workshops. These aren’t necessarily the venues that come to mind when you think museum educator; however, my recent activities have been anything but typical.
Back in January I responded to a call for proposals for UNESCO’s 2nd World Conference on Arts Education with a one-page abstract. To my delight (and surprise) my abstract was accepted for a full paper (10 pages!), which translated into an opportunity of a lifetime. I was invited to present my paper, “Art Museum-Based Creative Engagement Programs for Low-Vision and Blind Audiences in a Rural Setting,” in Seoul, South Korea.
I pounded the pavement (really more like ‘got on the horn’!) looking for support. The Wisconsin Art Education Association identified this outreach as an advocacy opportunity, and I received hospitality support from the Korean Government.
The conference itself was empowering and invigorating; me – a museum educator from Wausau, Wisconsin – presenting alongside practitioners from Brazil, Malaysia, Cook Islands, and Niger. Not in my wildest museum-related dreams (it’s true, I have them!) could I have imagined this for myself.
Returning to Wausau was short lived; a week later, fellow educator Jayna Hintz and I embarked on a road trip. We stopped in Racine and Milwaukee, visiting their respective art museums, museum educators, and education programming spaces.
On Friday, June 11, we joined a cohort of Midwest museum educators and representatives from the field of creative aging and Alzheimer’s to present a workshop at The Art Institute of Chicago, sponsored by the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and the Education Committee for the American Association of Museums (EdCom) with generous support from the Helen Bader Foundation, Milwaukee.
Over 40 museum folks gathered to hear about the possibilities for museum-based programming for individuals with memory loss and their caregivers. With presentations by Lynda Markut, Alzheimer’s Association; Anne Bastings, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center on Age & Community; Laurel Humble, Museum of Modern Art, New York City; and museum educators from the SPARK Alliance, participants left with the “SPARK!” to start programs at their institutions in response to community needs.
On the Metra ride back to our rental car parked in Kenosha, Jayna and I rehashed trip highlights. The brightest by far was being notified of a Helen Bader Foundation continuation grant to embed SPARK! within the Woodson Art Museum’s signature education programming. How awesome is that?!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Paintings are a bit easier. The lights are placed at the proper angles to the easel and they rarely need repositioning, but there are exceptions. The easel is leveled, the camera angle and easel pitch synchronized. Finally, it’s time to begin.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
No, I haven’t lost it (yet). I was among a couple hundred American Association of Museums annual meeting attendees who took advantage of an invitation to attend a screening of the recently restored John Huston adventure film, The African Queen, starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.
What a great conference kickoff. We were transported by coach to Paramount Studios and ushered into the elegant theater, complete with plush velvet seats and Deco adornments. Paramount Pictures Restoration VP Ron Smith introduced the project, describing the challenges and the processes used to correct faded dyes and misregistration and also to remove audio crackles and pops.
And then the lights dimmed, the curtain opened, and for 105 minutes I was transported to East Africa and onto Charlie Allnut’s (Bogart) riverboat, African Queen, as he and Rose Sayer (Hepburn) bantered and sparred and ultimately triumphed in their seemingly improbable plot to sink the Louisa, a German vessel. Of course, the pair is successful, and as they tackle a succession of river challenges, Allnut transforms from a slovenly gin-swiller to a clean-shaven romantic, capturing Sayer’s heart, too.
As the final credit rolled and the curtain closed, the appreciative audience enthusiastically applauded. The African Queen is a classic . . . they just don’t make movies like this today.
En route to the waiting buses, there was another surprise: a display of recently restored Ten Commandments jewelry – a perfect treat for the museum crowd. An archivist provided background and answered questions as many snapped photos.
And then it was time to get serious. AAM sessions began at 1:00. I had colleagues to re-connect with, pressing issues to tackle, and new and innovative practices to learn about. Four days of invigorating and inspiring nurturing and sharing.
I returned to the Woodson Art Museum with to-do list of ideas and lots of information to pass along to coworkers as well as memories of my journey aboard the African Queen.