It’s a Wonderful Collection

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on July 31st, 2013

It’s my favorite time of the year! You might think I’m referring to the arrival of Birds in Art,but alas, no.
Turning the calendar to August signals a reinstallation of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries. In preparation, I wander among the art storage racks, marveling at the beauty of the paintings and graphics, while drawing inspiration from them. Our holdings are ever-changing – growing with regular gifts and purchases – which makes each visit to storage a bit different as well as inspiring.
Artworks ”spoke” loudly this year resulting in four distinctly themed installations.
Jasper Cropsey, Hazy Afternoon, Autumn
The South Galleries are freshly painted in shades of green. I’ve found these colors have the right tones to focus attention on the artwork, and provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. Upon entering you’ll encounter historic paintings by Martin Johnson Heade, John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, and Rubens Peale. A common motif is the masterful handling of illumination by each artist. Follow the Light: Selections from the Collection examines the varied ways sunlight and moonlight enhance a composition.
Bob Kuhn, Close Harmony
Proceeding through the galleries, you’ll find highlights from a collection assembled twenty years ago. When first exhibited, Natural Wonders: The John and Alice Woodson Forester Miniature Collection was an artist-driven project comprising 154 paintings, works on paper, and sculpture. The small-scale works honored the unwavering support of Museum founders John and Alice Woodson Forester. Natural Wonders: Commemorating Twenty Yearsincludes sixty works from this collection.
Owen J. Gromme, Blue Jays Harassing Screech Owl
The year-old west gallery will be slightly revamped. Don’t fret, Owen Gromme’s re-created studio will remain as will twelve of his large canvases. These will be juxtaposed with thirty-six pencil drawings and watercolor sketches. This selection will allow a peek into the artist’s creative process, specifically how the placement of various elements in a composition contributes to the overall success of a painting.
Owen J. Gromme, Blue Jay Study
Gromme’s love of the outdoors and affinity for hunting are evident in his paintings; these passions are shared by many artists. Dawn to Dusk: The Sporting Spirit in Americacomprises twenty-five works by Ogden Pleissner, Lynn Bogue Hunt, Frank Benson, A.L. Ripley and others. Each painting depicts a scene right out of field or forest, just as Gromme’s work reflects Wisconsin, a state long known as an outdoor paradise.
Gustav Muss-Arnolt, On Quail

The installation of Birds in Art at the end of August will wrap up the month-long task of refreshing the Museum’s galleries readying its collections to share with thousands of visitors in the weeks ahead. I hope blog readers will be among them, having opportunities to witness the beauty of the Woodson Art Museum’s collection and the creative talents of all the artists.

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