Harry Potter & Creatures That Go Bump in the Night

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on October 31st, 2018

Having my turn to blog fall on Halloween is a real treat!

What’s better than spending Halloween evening handing out candy to neighborhood kids all dressed up in festive costumes? Tonight, my wife and I will experience our first Halloween with our grandsons who moved back to Wisconsin last spring.

We can’t wait to see the excitement on their faces as they prepare to go trick-or-treating for the first time. Our 3-year-old will dress up as a dragon, complete with a long tail. Our 1 ½-year-old will go out as a cute little skunk because his parents call him a little stinker!

Giving out candy from the house also will be fun; the boys will enjoy seeing other neighborhood kids in costume for this light-hearted, fun-filled holiday.

I expect a popular Halloween theme will continue to be anything related to J.K. Rolling’s Harry Potter book and movie series, a pop-culture phenomenon that began two decades ago. Children and adults alike seem enchanted by the witches, wizards, and Muggles that come to life in Rowling’s popular series.

Bubo Scandiacus, 2017, by Tyler Vouros

An artwork in this year’s Birds in Art exhibition – a larger-than-life drawing of a snowy owl – appears to reference the other-worldly landscape of Harry Potter and company. Tyler Vouros’ dark, brooding depiction looks eerily familiar.

Standing next to the oversized work, one’s attention is drawn to the owl’s large talons protruding from the creature’s feathered feet. The giant bird nearly fills the six-foot frame, leaving little space to examine the background of windswept trees in the upper left and a distant castle in the upper right corner. The castle resembles the now-famous Hogwarts where Potter and friends attended wizardry school.

Detail of Bubo Scandiacus

After many visitor inquiries, Woodson Art Museum administrative manager, Shari Schroeder asked the artist if he intentionally fashioned his castle after Hogwarts. He replied “… I thought, snowy owl, plus castle… why not make it Hogwarts.”

I appreciate the desire to engage children, capture their imaginations, and to encourage them to enjoy life and the world around them. I invite you to tell friends and family about the giant owl drawing on view through Sunday, November 25, at the Woodson Art Museum and its association with Harry Potter.

As for me, I look forward to walking the neighborhood, with grandsons in tow, collecting candy, and listening for creatures that go bump in the night.

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