American Impressionism and Tactile Folktale Sculpture Exhibitions on View

Wausau, Wisconsin: Two distinct exhibitions featuring American Impressionism paintings and touchable low-relief sculptures of folktales are on view at the Woodson Art Museum through February 21, 2016. American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony and Forest Folklore: A Multisensory Experience will be enlivened by an array of programs for all ages, including snow sculpture, gallery walks, workshops, and hands-on activities led by visiting artists who explore exhibition themes.

American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony includes lyrical landscapes, portraits, and still-life paintings that highlight the critical role of artists’ colonies in the development of the movement from the 1880s through the 1940s. Forest Folklore is a tactile fairy-tale forest where visitors are encouraged to gently touch low-relief sculptures, designed to inspire and inform all about the needs of those who use other senses “to see.”

Forest Folklore: A Multisensory Experience

Colorado-based artist Ann Cunningham’s site-specific Forest Folklore exhibition transforms a Woodson Art Museum lower-level gallery into an intriguing landscape of touchable sculptures in slate, stone, and bronze. Focusing on the emotional and intellectual responses artworks can elicit, Cunningham creates tactile artwork and advocates multisensory access to the arts for all people.

After years of sculpting stone, Ann began wondering in 1992 if her low-relief slate sculptures could be understood by someone who was blind. She discovered, while creating tactile artwork and teaching art at the Colorado Center for the Blind, that touching her artwork enhances the experience and expands understanding of how individuals effectively use senses other than sight. Well-designed tactile images can “unlock new ways for all of us to see through our sense of touch,” Cunningham said. “Touch uses other neural pathways. Once you reach out with your eyes closed, your brain will start teaching itself how to interpret the images.” Her two-sided wolf sculpture, for example, “takes on volume” when a visitor uses each hand to touch both sides at once. “In your mind’s eye, you see from both sides at once, which you can’t do visually. It’s fun to discover new ways to see!”

Ann Cunningham Artist Residency, December 3 – 18

During her artist residency at the Woodson Art Museum, Thursday, December 3 through Friday, December 18, Cunningham works with 700 Pre-K through first-grade students during class visits to the Museum as well as offers an array of public programs for visitors.

  • Thursday, December 3, 5:30-7 pm – Art 101/Hands-on Art: The Road to Tactile Art
    Ann Cunningham shares her journey with tactile art and how her career evolved to focus on artwork developed with visually impaired audiences in mind. She then leads participants in creating an artwork from clay.
  • Saturday, December 5, 1-3 pm – Art Park Open Studio
    All ages drop in to work with Ann to create a plaster-cast tile.
  • Monday, December 7, Noon-4 pm – Teaching with Tactile Art: Educator Workshop
    Regional educators and museum colleagues join sculptor and accessibility advocate Ann Cunningham for demonstrations, lessons, and conversations about sensory learning’s power to serve a wide range of audiences, including individuals with visual impairments, cognitive challenges, memory loss, and other specific needs in practical and creative environments. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.
  • Saturday, December 12, 10:30 am-Noon – Art Beyond Sight
    Individuals with blindness or low vision explore Forest Folklore with Ann Cunningham and Museum educators and engage in hands-on art making. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.
  • Saturday, December 12, 1-2 pm – Please Touch the Artwork: Tactile Art Demonstration
    Ann Cunningham shares her methods and motivations for creating tactile artwork for museums, universities, and classrooms across the country.
  • Sunday, December 13, 1-2 pm – Forest Folklore Gallery Walk
    Experience the low-relief Forest Folklore sculptures in slate, stone, and bronze in the company of Ann Cunningham, whose mission is inclusion, encouraging all to explore her artwork through touch.
  • Wednesday, December 16, 12:15-1 pm – Art 101: The Road to Tactile Art
    Ann Cunningham creates artwork to be appreciated by individuals with low vision or blindness; learn how her tactile sculpture offers a multisensory experience for all.

Snow Sculpture: Fairy-Tale Flurries, January 23 – 24

With a nod to Forest Folklore, Team USA Snow Sculptors – Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz – carve winter’s fluffy stuff, celebrating the 26th anniversary of the Museum’s snow-sculpture partnership, Saturday & Sunday, January 23-24, Noon-5 pm.

An array of programs for all ages incorporate Forest Folklore themes throughout the exhibition, December 5, 2015, through February 21, 2016; check the events calendar at for a complete listing.

American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony

Landscapes of snow-covered hills and sun-drenched harbors, portraits, and still-life paintings exemplify American artists’ varied approaches to Impressionism during the early twentieth century. Oil paintings and works on paper reveal the abiding interest they shared – capturing the effects of light and atmosphere in loosely brushed compositions. Arranged by artists’ colonies from New England to Taos, New Mexico, and California, the exhibition explores the critical role of the colonies in the development of American Impressionism in the 1880s through the 1940s. Colony artists – surrounded and inspired by scenic locations – taught, collaborated, and escaped the daily rigors of their city studios. Included are works by William Merritt Chase, Frank W. Benson, Guy Wiggins, Charles Webster Hawthorne, Edward Redfield, and American expatriate artists Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. “American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony” was organized by the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania.

David Kapszukiewicz Artist Residency, January 7 – 9

Tomahawk artist David Kapszukiewicz, who creates striking paintings of familiar northern Wisconsin landscapes and sunlit portraits in natural settings, leads programs during his artist residency at the Woodson Art Museum, Thursday, January 7, through Saturday, January 9. Working in oil, Kapszukiewicz draws upon techniques and subjects utilized by American painters before him whose passions for nature, working en plein air, and capturing ever-changing light fueled their work. Kapszukiewicz, an instructor and Birds in Art artist, will demonstrate painting techniques and lead discussions about how the legacy of the American Impressionists remains relevant and inspirational.

  • Thursday, January 7, 5:30-6:30 pm – Art 101: American Painters through an Artist’s Eyes
    David Kapszukiewicz connects works by celebrated American Impressionists, including John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, to his own process and work as an oil painter.
  • Thursday, January 7, 5:30-7 pm – Hands-on Art
    Be inspired by portraits in the galleries and capture your own portrait in pencil during this drop-in program for all ages.
  • Friday, January 8, 1-2:30 pm – Artist Open Studio: At the Easel & in the Galleries
    Gather in the galleries to watch a painting develop as David Kapszukiewicz works at his easel and discusses how his process echoes that of artists whose works are on view.
  • Saturday, January 9, 10 am-4 pm – Understanding Oil Teen & Adult Workshop
    Using the American Impressionism paintings on view as time-tested inspiration, David Kapszukiewicz teaches concepts necessary for building a strong painting with visual impact. Through observation, discovery, editing, and decision-making, develop a way of thinking that reduces guesswork and increases knowledge and confidence. Learn how light flowing across a subject creates structure, movement, and color. Fee: $15 for Museum members; $25, non-members; lunch provided. Bring your own supplies based on a suggested list. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.

Support for the David Kapszukiewicz residency is provided by the B. A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation.

Varied programs for all ages incorporate American Impressionism themes throughout the exhibition, December 5, 2015, through February 21, 2016; check the events calendar at for a complete listing.

For more information, visit, e-mail the Museum at, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and the Museum’s weekly blog, Woodson Wanderings.

URL link to Artist-in-Residence Ann Cunningham Artist Ann Cunningham

URL link to Artist-in-Residence David Kapszukiewicz Artist David Kapszukiewicz

URL link to sketch of 2016 snow sculpture; please include caption information

Snow sculpture sketch, Fairy-Tale Flurries, Team USA Snow Sculpture, January 23-24, 2016, Woodson Art Museum

URL links to exhibition images are available to media representatives upon request; please contact Amy Beck at


Woodson Art Museum

Tues–Fri 9am–4pm
First Thurs each month 9am–7:30pm
Thurs during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Sat–Sun Noon–5pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas

Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. Twelfth Street)

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