Like a Kid in A Candy Store

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on October 18th, 2017

As a child growing up on Wausau’s west side, I remember hot summer days when my friends and I would walk or bike nearly two miles to go swimming at McDonald Pool. Back then, it cost a dime to swim and occasionally I was given a little extra to buy a treat. On our way to the pool, we would stop at Kemp’s corner store to buy penny candy. I remember pouring over what seemed like a smorgasbord of tasty treats, trying to choose a combination to satisfy my youthful palate. A dime could buy you a small brown bag filled with treats. Decisions, decisions.


Frank E Cummings,III, Nature in Transition, 1989, cork, oak, 18K gold

Last winter, I had a similar experience. However, I wasn’t selecting candy; I was pouring over images of wood-turned artwork in the collection of Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood. Perusing the images on line and two of the Center’s publications, I was choosing artwork for an upcoming exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum from this exceptional collection that had been acquired over thirty years. Scanning the many remarkable works created by artists from all over the world was a bit daunting. The collection of over 1,200 objects comprises outstanding items, making it hard to know where to start. I began by selecting pieces that appealed to me visually. Over time, I prioritized artworks, dividing them into categories based on distinct features and construction styles.


William Hunter, Vallarta Shell, 1995, cocobolo

Some works have obvious functional aspects, while others are more sculptural. Some I appreciated for design simplicity. Other work was complex – in design, material used, and construction techniques. In the end, I selected seventy-six artworks.


Angelino Gianfranco, Untitled, ca. 2004, pine, oak

Looking back, it was easy to pick ten pieces of candy that captured my imagination. After all, I would have ample opportunities to repeat this memorable act during my childhood. Selecting the artwork for Explorations in Wood: Selections from The Center for Art in Wood was more difficult, but also more rewarding.


Hans Joachim Weissflog, 3rd Rocking Bowl, 2009, African blackwood, boxwood


You’ll have a chance to view the artworks I selected for Explorations in Wood in person, opening on Saturday, December 2, and on view through February 25, 2018. I hope my selections will resonate with you. I’ll look forward to learning visitors’ favorites.

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