By Andy McGivern, curator of exhibitions
A recent hands-on bench-building program for teens is among many dual-artist residence programs enlivening the Shaker exhibitions on view. Area woodworker Mark Duginske and Door County furniture maker Jim Rose teamed up, along with volunteers and staff, to help nearly two dozen Wausau and Merrill teens build Shaker-style benches.
Mark developed his bench design by referencing a bench in the Gathering Up the Fragments exhibition.
Wood for the benches was donated by Marathon County Solid Waste Department from trees harvested to make way for an expanded landfill site. Using his portable sawmill, Duginske cut the oak and maple trees into usable lumber, planed the wood in his workshop north of Wausau, and cut it to size for the various bench components.
After teens gathered for pizza on a recent Friday night, Mark and Jim explained elements of the bench-building project. Students then paired up and moved to various workstations to construct their benches. I helped students drill holes where tapered wooden dowels later were inserted to join the bench parts.
Once the benches were assembled, students painted or applied a water-based acrylic to finish their works of art.
At the end of the evening, everyone left with a smile on their face and a bench to call their own.
Upcoming Shaker-related programs include a woodworking clinic and Shaker pastimes such as basket weaving and quilting. Check the events calendar or call 715-845-7010 for details and to see what Shaker treasure you can create.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
by Jayna Hintz, Curator of Education
Do you have friends or family who are coping with the death of a loved one this holiday season? During Treasuring Memories next Thursday, 2-4 pm, participants bring mementos to incorporate into commemorative artworks.
The Woodson Art Museum and Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services embarked on a collaboration in 2008 that resulted in Treasuring Memories, a program offered twice a year. Amy Kitsemble, grief coordinator for Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services, spearheaded the project. She based Treasuring Memories on work we had done together with Head Start. Following discussion and planning, we centered the program on creating memorial art in a museum setting. The program is free to minimize any possible barriers for participants. At each Treasuring Memories program, I lead the art-making process; Amy Kitsemble and hospice staff and volunteers are present to hear and honor stories of those grieving.
Art expression becomes part of the grieving passage because it allows hard-to-express feelings to be acknowledged. Grief is a universal experience and a normal emotional response to the death of a loved one. It is easier to share and discuss with others who have encountered the same transitional difficulties and understand the experience.
During Treasuring Memories, Thursday, December 27, all ages can drop in 2-4 pm at the Museum; plan for at least 30 minutes to complete a memory box.
Participants will embellish a box with photos or mementos they select and bring; these items can become a centerpiece of the box. Another option is to make a collage with provided materials, such as images from magazines, fabric, and found objects. These materials can represent a loved one’s favorite color, hobby, sport interest, or career. The inside of the box can become a special place for mementos or somewhere safe to keep notes or journal entries about the journey through grief and loss. When the memory boxes are completed, participants are invited to share their story of loss – no one is urged to share more than they wish or are comfortable sharing.
The program offers the opportunity for those who are grieving to use this personal, creative process to enhance their lives through self-expression. During the holiday season when extended family often gather, Treasuring Memories can be a healing activity designed to encourage sharing family stories while engaging in new experiences.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
By Kathy Kelsey Foley, Director
Since 2008, the week after Thanksgiving has been dubbed “American Art Week” in New York City and eagerly anticipated by collectors, scholars, curators, and dealers who focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American artworks.
Woodson Art Museum curator of collections Jane Weinke and I have long hoped to be in NYC for all that comprises the week, including lectures, gallery openings, and auctions at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
The stars were aligned this year, and Jane and I headed east with a chock-full schedule that would have been the undoing of a less eager and less intrepid pair. We were determined to do it all!
Remarkably, we arrived as scheduled on Monday, November 27, with just enough time to check into our hotel before an evening lecture at Christie's. Erica Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presented a superb assessment of John Singer Sargent watercolors as a prelude to an exhibition that will debut at the Brooklyn Museum and then travel to Boston.
Following the lecture, the standing-room-only crowd adjourned to Christie’s exhibition galleries to preview the American art sale that would take place on Wednesday morning.
And so began our whirlwind week.
Tuesday’s schedule included the American Art Fair at the Bohemian National Hall, an opportunity to view an array of artworks offered by seventeen distinct dealers. The elegant setting was not only perfect for the featured artworks but also most conducive to engaging conversations with gallery staff. In the evening, we previewed the auction lots to be offered at Sotheby’s on Thursday.
Visits to a range of galleries – Conner Rosenkranz, Arader, MME Fine Art, Gavin Spanierman, Graham, Godel, Debra Force, and more – were sandwiched in between time at the New York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as attending the American art auctions at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
John Rogers: American Stories at the Historical Society and George Bellows at the Metropolitan were two of the superb exhibitions we enjoyed. We also spent considerable time in the recently re-installed American galleries at the Metropolitan where Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) is a show-stopper and Sargent’s Madame X (1883-84) is as intriguing and mysterious as ever.
No surprise, the week flew by. Before heading to LaGuardia on Saturday morning, we had just enough time for a visit to the Morgan Library & Museum, where we savored Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 library, which has been restored to its original grandeur. In addition to the impact of the lush interior, the volumes singled out for presentation in free-standing cases were remarkable and enhanced by superbly crafted label text.
On a high note we “sailed” back to Wisconsin via O’Hare but were delayed by fog that led to an extra night in Chicago. Although Jane and I were concurrently exhilarated and exhausted, we talked almost nonstop about all that we saw and did in New York. What a learning experience!
Neither of us would object to making American Art Week a fixture on our calendars.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By Catie Anderson, curator of education
The Woodson Art Museum’s annual docent holiday gathering celebrates the hard work of a dedicated group of volunteers who lead guided experiences at the Museum for visitors of all ages – especially school children. Sunday evening, beverages were sipped, gifts were given (gotta love Etsy!), and I even made an awkward toast. Thanks to Allister Deacon’s for the fantastic food and inspired atmosphere.
Museum docents come from all walks of life. By volunteering at the Woodson, they find and create a community – a community of fellow lifelong learners who recognize the importance of experiential learning, the arts, and storytelling. The diverse backgrounds of the Museum’s docent corps is a strength of the program. Varied perspectives and wide-ranging experience levels lead to distinct insights and multiple points of entry for visitors. The docent corps is a remarkable group of agile thinkers and interpreters who are hungry for knowledge.
The dynamic work environment of a museum is challenging and exciting. My first year at the Woodson Art Museum flew by, and I’m still settling into the fast-paced cycle of changing exhibitions and the balancing act that’s required. Learning curves are inevitable in every professional position and museums certainly know how to throw a curve ball. Time crunches and other duties aside, one of my favorite aspects of my work is the research that accompanies each exhibition.
The culture and craftsmanship of the Shakers captured my attention for weeks as I prepared to craft audio tour tracks, train docents, and entice educators – through pre-visit materials – to bring students to the two Shaker exhibitions. Diving into new areas of research is a perk of my work as a museum educator and would feel self-indulgent if I didn’t aim to put my findings to good use.
|Richard Sweeney, 03M (Partial Shell), 2010, watercolor paper, wet folded. Photo by Richard Sweeney.|
Partnerships with area artists and experts help to enliven exhibitions and attract visitors. A dual-artist residency with master carpenter and author Mark Duginkse and artist Jim Rose offers opportunities for hands-on Shaker furniture making and contemporary interpretations of Shaker decorative arts designs. While there are many fantastic public programs in store during this period, the Woodson Art Museum team is “on to the next one” so to speak. The docents are now carrying the Shaker interpretive torch and I’m turning my attention to origami. Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami and the paper sculpture of Calvin Nicholls will fill the Museum’s galleries beginning Saturday, January 26. I’m already looking forward to learning with and from our docents in the months ahead.
|Calvin Nicholls, Tree Frog|
Interested in learning more about the docent program? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.