Always Something New

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on September 11th, 2013

This week, while much calmer than last, seems too quiet for me.Yes, that sounds a bit wacky, but I thrive on the hustle and bustle. It’s a personal challenge to get every detail aligned for the opening of Birds in Art. Will this be the year where nothing is amiss? Will every label be letter perfect, the paintings totally level, and the endless list of assignments completed without fail? Alas, no, but hope remains for 2014.

Throughout the past three weeks, every artwork in the building has been changed; now visitors can enjoy 275 different paintings, sculptures and graphics. That number includes the 125 artworks in Birds in Art and 150 in five permanent collection exhibitions. Of that, two are outdoor sculptures.
Follow the Light: Selections from the Collection and Natural Wonders: Commemorating Twenty Years share the South Galleries. Twenty masterpieces from the collection comprise Follow the Light. Juxtaposing lights and darks is one of the basic elements of most compositions. While looking at the works, you’ll discover how artists use light to paint a story. Twenty years ago, a group of artists envisioned a plan to honor Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum founders John and Alice Woodson Forester for their unwavering commitment to artists. More than 150 artists offered gifts of small-scale artworks. The exhibition and publication, Natural Wonderslive on in tribute. Natural Wonders: Commemorating Twenty Years features a selection of sixty works from the larger collection.

The newly renovated Decorative Arts Room is fabulous. To celebrate its renovated beauty, as well as honoring an historic collection, eight pairs of Dorothy Doughty’s Royal Worcester Porcelains are on display. The sculptures are from the American Bird Series and focus on birds seen in Wisconsin.

The final two exhibitions are in the galleries adjacent to Birds in Art – commonly referred to as the Gromme gallery. Therein continues Owen J. Gromme: An Enduring Legacy, with a twist. Alongside each of the artist’s beautifully rendered oil paintings, a 2011 gift from BMO Harris Bank, is a series of pencil sketches. These preparatory works reveal how the artist combined various elements into pleasing compositions. Owen’s daughter, Anne Marie Gromme, donated sixty-five studies, specific to the oil paintings.

Not to be forgotten Dawn to Dusk: The Sporting Spirit in America offers paintings, sculptures, and graphics from the sportsman’s perspective. Whether depictions of waterfowl or upland game hunting, these works share special moments of the hunt.

Two large-scale sculptures recently were added to the Museum grounds. Boys Will Be Boys, a pair of tussling bears by Dan Ostermiller, is adjacent to the main visitor entrance. The Margaret Woodson Fisher Sculpture Garden features a recent gift for our youngest visitors and the young at heart. Prince Marvin, a delightful frog interactive, invites all to engage their playful side.

Whew! I think that covers it. But I only shared the excitement of the exhibitions. The past several months brought some amazing changes to Visitors Services, additional gallery space, an improved main entrance, and more. So, after the weeks of renovation and the inevitable change, the hustle and bustle have subsided and we are back to business as usual. A calmer, more beautiful and efficient Woodson Art Museum awaits for visitors and staff to enjoy

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