2023 is off to a busy and promising start at the Woodson Art Museum with new staff members hitting the ground running and all hands on deck working together to offer meaningful programs for the north central Wisconsin community.
On January 24, Museum staff and volunteer docents welcomed 80 fifth graders from the Wausau School District for interactive gallery tours and creative brainstorming in the Museum’s classroom. On January 25, 80 fourth grade students explored The Global Language of Headwear, which inspired hat making that showcased the maker’s personality. These back-to-back-half-day visits kick off the school district’s Art Cluster program offered each year for fourth and fifth graders with a keen interest in visual art.
The supportive spirit of the Woodson team continued over the weekend when Team USA Snow Sculptors – Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz – transformed an 8’ x 8’x 6’ block of snow into a Stormy Kromer-inspired sculpture. On Saturday, January 28, artist Mike Martino joined fellow Museum educator Rachel Hausmann-Schall and I in offering Art Beyond Sight (ABS), a multi-sensory program for individuals with low vision and blindness. Guest artists are always a welcome addition to the program, as they bring special insights, objects, and stories to share with participants, ensuring the experience is as enriching and engaging as possible. A smaller block of snow was prepared late last week for ABS participants to practice carving with instruction and hand tools provided by Martino. Program attendees braved the below-zero temperatures and took turns working outside the Museum’s main entrance to try their hands at sculpting snow. Following pre-carved guidelines, Martino helped individuals remove material using different tools for scraping and shaping snow, to rough out a head shape from the block.
Inside, Museum Director Matt Foss joined the group and assisted with sharing tactile objects like sculpture maquettes and bronze casting materials relating to Martino’s work in a more permanent medium.
The program concluded in the classroom with conversations about Mike Martino’s studio practice, working collaboratively with fellow artists Sponholtz and Queoff, and career highlights. Martino even passed around his bronze medal from the 1998 Winter Olympic Arts Festival in Iiyama, Japan.
The Woodson team is looking forward to working together again this week during collaborative programs with the Central Wisconsin Hmong Professionals. We invite all to join us for tomorrow evening’s presentation on Hmong garments and headwear and Saturday’s Regalia Runway shows.