Collector’s Dream

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on October 1st, 2009

What are stamps, coins, baseball cards, navel lint, and toasters? The answer: things people collect!

I do not currently collect anything. In fact, since I gave up on acquiring each of the latest and most beautiful Barbie outfits, I have resisted the urge to amass a group of anything. This is most likely healthy because some of the things I am attracted to, like large diamonds and designer shoes and handbags, make a serious dent in the cash flow.

Luckily for me, when I arrive at work each day, I am surrounded by a world-class collection which I play a small part in developing and acquiring, thereby sating the desire to have one of my own, not to mention that this “stance” also prevents any possible mis-step on my part vis-á-vis curatorial ethics.

While I have the privilege of phone bidding for works at auction – with a definite monetary limit! – and have developed friendships with gallery directors who offer works to the Woodson, I rarely “close the deal.” Kathy Foley, the Museum’s director, is typically “the closer.”

So when the Collections Committee (a group of eight who guide the Museum’s acquisitions) met following the opening of Birds in Art and identified eight artworks as “must haves,” I was thrilled when Kathy asked me to handle the details.

Here is a list of artists and their works that will become part of the Woodson Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Robert Caldwell joins the collection with Sewanee Barn, an oil on hardboard, and he quickly announced the purchase on his Blog. Amazing how fast news spreads! Also coming to roost at the Woodson are The Contender by Mary Cornish, an oil painting of an endearing California condor; Brown Pelican, a stately portrait drawn in carbon pencil and oil by B. Hugh McPeck; and Avocet by James Offeman, a stunning pastel.

Water is a major component in three works. In Running Sanderling, Ralph Grady James uses oils to depict an action-packed shoreline scene of sparkling water and an in-motion bird. In sharp contrast is Sue Westin’s Moorhen Morning, in which she renders the calm water so convincingly you feel you could walk on it. Ewoud de Groot creates an “I want to be there right now” scene of three phalaropes resting in the shallows.

The Collections Committee selected only one sculpture – and a handsome one it is: Paul Rhymer’s regal bronze bust of a Abyssinian ground-hornbill titled Haile Selassie.

Is this a dream collection or what?

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