Monday morning I received a call alerting me that good friend and longtime Wausau-area arts supporter Carol Mularkey had died on Sunday. For more than fifty years, Carol taught art in central Wisconsin.
I knew Carol for most of my twenty-nine years at the Woodson Art Museum. During this time, we had countless conversations about art and a variety of other subjects, too. Carol was never shy about expressing her opinions or engaging in conversation, as those who knew her well can appreciate.
Carol regularly brought her students to the Woodson Art Museum, and I often joined her classes on these visits to share insights into how an exhibition was organized or installed. Most often it was her drawing students, who were most eager to sketch in the galleries. Carol was a stickler for style and handling and she’d push students to work just a bit harder to achieve results she thought worthy. Carousel Animals: Art in Motion, the Museum’s spring 2007 exhibition, especially lent itself to in-the-gallery sketching and the enthusiasm of Carol’s students pleased her greatly.
A few years ago Carol and I judged ChalkFest and were asked to join the committee that organized the annual event. Carol was in her glory each year as she strolled along the sidewalks of Wausau’s City Square viewing the abundance of drawings and visiting with artists, many of whom were former students.
The Museum’s annual Birds in Art exhibition was perhaps the occasion that Carol most looked forward to each year. She was a fixture in the galleries on Saturday morning of the opening weekend, engaging artists in conversation and asking them to sign her catalogue. No surprise that long-time Birds in Art participant, artist Paula Waterman, who is in residence at the Woodson this week, knew exactly who Carol was when staff members were talking about her on Tuesday morning. Carol always made herself known.
In addition to teaching art and nurturing students, Carol enjoyed traveling. She often told me about trips she had taken to visit museums and experience other cultures. She participated in many Woodson Art Museum trips, traveling with me to a number of Midwest cities, including Milwaukee and Chicago. She particularly enjoyed the latter, which included visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, where Carol proudly received her Masters in Art degree.
Carol was to join me and a group of thirty Woodson Art Museum members on a three-day trip to the Twin Cities in early November. Despite failing health, Carol hoped to have the stamina for a fast-paced schedule of museum visits and theater. She was not the sort to admit defeat or to let anybody or anything get in her way. Alas, we’ll be making the trip without her.
Over the years, Carol developed quite a large circle of friends who enjoyed her zest for life and benefitted from her insights on art. I include myself among that group of friends and can honestly say that Carol will be missed. We have many fond memories and lots of stories to tell.
Carol, you’ll always be in our hearts.