Last week, I had the pleasure of leading a group of twenty-four Woodson Art Museum members on a motor-coach tour to the Milwaukee area. I planned the tour to coincide with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Van Gogh to Pollock exhibition and added stops to appeal to members’ varied interests.
On our way to Milwaukee, we stopped at the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh to view the newly installed exhibition Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times. Many in our group are big fans of the PBS series, having seen most or all of the first five seasons. The Paine Art Center’s English-style architecture was a wonderful backdrop for the costumes of the popular TV show.
Our next stop was a visit to Ten Chimneys in Genesse Depot to see the home and working farm of theater legends Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. Our docents gave excellent tours of the estate’s many buildings. The list of Broadway luminaries who visited Ten Chimneys is impressive and the stories of their interactions captivates the imagination.
On day two of our three-day adventure, we visited the Milwaukee Art Museum to experience Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. We arrived early for the opening of the Burke Brise Soleil – the Museum’s signature, giant wings that open daily and screen the interior of the main hall. Docents guided us through the exhibition where we viewed some amazing paintings and sculpture by early modernists who challenged conventional ideas of art at the time.
After lunch at Café Calatrava, we returned to Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and stopped at the Tory Folliard Gallery to see the vibrant landscape paintings by Harold Gregor and subtle paintings of interior and exteriors spaces by Gregor’s former student Mark Forth.
Our afternoon was filled with a fascinating tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum. Stories surrounding the famous motorcycle and its impact on American and world culture are intriguing.
We began Friday by visiting the studio of sculptor Don Rambadt, Birds in Art artist and good friend of the Woodson Art Museum. Don talked about his artwork and demonstrated his fabrication technique. Museum travelers thoroughly enjoyed meeting Don and having an opportunity to interact with him.
Our next stop was the Vanguard Sculpture Services on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Owner Beth Sahagian greeted us and staff members talked about sculptures on display before escorting us into an area where they explained the process of making a bronze cast. We then saw furnaces ablaze and roaring and members of team Vanguard pour molten bronze into heated molds.
After lunch, we drove to the Lynden Sculpture Garden and toured the forty-acre estate of Harry and Peg Bradley, opened to the public in 2010. Peg Bradley began collecting monumental sculptures in 1962 and continued to do so until her death in 1978. Today, the garden is home to many important modern sculptures that are beautifully sited.
During the return trip to Wausau, our final stop was the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah to see the newly installed exhibition William Morris: Native Species, on loan from the George R. Stroemple collection. It included thirty-eight vessels with Morris’ signature matte finish and references to nature.
These three days certainly were filled with varied art experiences. Oh, did I mention the wonderful meals we had? This Museum members’ trip will be a hard one to top.