Wausau, Wisconsin: Photographic illustrator Walter Wick – known for his “I SPY” search-and-find images teeming with toys, machines, and illusions – leads programs February 27-28 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau during the opening weekend of an exhibition featuring his whimsical images that engage curious minds of all ages. During opening-weekend programs, Wick will discuss his mesmerizing images, creative process, and playful concepts.
“Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic” comprises Wick’s large-scale photographs depicting visual riddles, puzzles, and optical illusions that engage and challenge children and adults alike.
Included in the exhibition are three-dimensional models – comparable to small-scale movie sets – that Wick designs and arranges, along with photo illustrations from the “I SPY” and “Can You See What I See?” series, “Seymour” books, and Wick’s award-winning “A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder,” and “Walter Wick’s Optical Tricks,” a book of photographic illusions. Nine images feature accompanying interactive activities offering questions or puzzles to solve by closely examining the photo. These directly engage viewers with specific tasks that are do-able in the gallery.
Wick’s challenging search-and-find photographs, visual riddles, and playful scenes are cherished by legions of readers of these Scholastic Inc. books, with over forty-five million copies in print worldwide.
“Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic,” organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, remains on view at the Woodson Art Museum through May 29. A Joint Effort Marketing grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism supports expanded “Walter Wick” marketing efforts.
Opening Weekend with Walter Wick
On the exhibition’s opening day, Wick shares his belief in the power of play and the story of his journey as a photographer and how creative exploration at a young age nurtured his artistic ambitions. Learning through Play, Saturday, February 27, 3:30-5 p.m., includes a book signing at 4:30 p.m.
A Student Art Reception, Saturday, February 27, Noon-2 p.m., celebrates the opening of the Woodson Art Museum’s 39th-annual Student Art Exhibition, on view through April 3, featuring artwork by north central Wisconsin students in grades 9-12.
On Sunday, February 28, 1-2 p.m., Wick provides an in-depth look – from concepts to intricate studio processes – behind his award-winning photographic illustrations, including highlights from his famous “I SPY” and “Can You See What I See?” series. During Behind the Scenes with Walter Wick, he explains how he blends art, games, illusion, and science, in his photographic illustrations, including reactions he’s received over the years from sharp-eyed readers. Get insights into Wick’s artistic process via the Museum’s audio tour app.
About Walter Wick
Miami-based artist Walter Wick began his career honing technical skills as a commercial photographer. Later, he opened his own New York City studio, produced work for magazines such as “Psychology Today,” “Discover,” and “Newsweek,” and for ten years designed and created photographic puzzles for “Games” magazine, where his career path intersected with that of Will Shortz who eventually became “Games” magazine editor. Wick went on to build a career creating mind-boggling photo illustrations, often from his intricately designed model sets, for search-and-find masterpieces and optical-illusion images.
“In the world of puzzles, only a few people have the ability to create an original, elegant, well-designed challenge and present it with great artistic sense. And when that artistic sense is photographic . . . well, I can think of only one living ‘puzzle person’ who has it – Walter Wick,” said Shortz, who now is the “New York Times” crossword editor, director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and National Public Radio’s puzzlemaster. “ . . . Now, with this exhibition, Walter is getting overdue recognition for his ingenious, beautiful sort of play – art that makes you use your brain.”
Interactive Options and Programs
Opportunities for intergenerational engagement abound at the Woodson Art Museum through programs for all ages and exhibition extras.
• Art Park: Delve into imaginative play with thaumatropes, flextangles, and fling zings in the Museum’s family interactive gallery.
• Audio Tour: Get insights about selected artwork on view from photographic illustrator Walter Wick by listening on a Museum iPod, your smartphone, or tablet; all free!
• Activity Guide: Explore Walter Wick’s playful visual riddles, optical illusions, and artful assemblages via printed or online versions for in-gallery or at-home use.
• Books: Offering an array of intergenerational activities, Walter Wick books are available for purchase at the Museum’s Visitor Services desk.
During Night Out @ the Woodson on the first Thursday of each month when the Museum stays open until 7:30 pm, learn something new during Art 101, 5:30-6:30 p.m., and drop in for Hands-on Art, 5:30-7 p.m. Art 101 also is offered as a noon-hour program on the third Wednesday of each month. Night Out @ the Woodson, on Thursday, March 3, features Art 101: Wick Games, Gizmos, & Creative Connections, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; learn how interacting with Walter Wick’s artwork bridges lifespans and interests, including design, photography, science, and more. Join educator Catie Anderson for a closer look at interdisciplinary connections and intergenerational entry points. During Hands-on Art, 5:30-7 p.m., all ages drop in to create Wick-inspired characters from beads and assorted objects.
Visual riddle and optical illusion themes extend throughout programs and presentations designed to pique the curiosity of all ages, incorporating concepts ranging from science principles to puzzles and rhymes.
Wisconsin’s 2015-16 Poet Laureate Kimberly Blaeser, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor, and photographer, combines her passions for the visual and verbal arts and culture through poetry, essays, and picto-poems. Taking inspiration from nature and Native American literature, Blaeser blends her wildlife photography and writings to create visual metaphors that invite viewers to look carefully and see beyond what the eye beholds. Blaeser offers two Woodson Art Museum programs on Friday, March 4:
• Friday, March 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Picto-Poetry Workshop: Join Blaeser to explore and create picto-poems. Beginning with inspiration from artwork in the galleries, participants will articulate their connections to an image through vivid written descriptions called ekphrastic prose. Next, participants will create a visual interpretation of their prose using relief printmaking, letterpress, and mixed-media collage techniques. Fee: $20 members, $35 non-members; lunch and materials provided. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.
• March 4 Friday 5-6 p.m., Picto-Poetry Reading: Blaeser presents her photographs, ekphrastic poetry, and picto-poems and shares how her intersecting layers of text and images reference Native American pictographs, the natural world, and a reimagining of indigenous culture and voice.
“Games, Gizmos, and Gadgets” themes extend throughout Woodson Art Museum programs for babies through older adults; check https://www.lywam.org/events-calendar/ for details about the following programs.
During Art Part Open Studio, all ages drop in to experiment with provided art materials, 1-3 p.m., on the first Saturday each month, March 5, April 2, and May 7.
The Museum’s monthly SPARK! programs for individuals with memory loss and accompanying friends or family members includes engaging art experiences in the galleries and a creative, art-making activity, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, on the second Thursday of each month, March 10, April 14, and May 12. Call 715-845-7010 to register.
Little ones, 18 months-4 years, and accompanying adults drop in to sample art-making activities and explore Art Park during Toddler Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, on the third Tuesday of each month, March 15, April 19, and May 17.
During Art 101: Wick-Inspired Connections, Wednesday, March 16 12:15-1 p.m., a gallery walk with educator Catie Anderson reveals the multifaceted approach the photographic illustrator takes to create his work, layering art history, design principles, and scientific illusions into imaginative landscapes.
To register for the following programs for little ones and accompanying adults, call the Museum at 715-845-7010. Art Babies, birth-1 year, 10:30-11:15 a.m., on Fridays, March 25, April 29, and May 27; Art Time for Tots, 1-4 years, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Wednesday and Thursdays, March 23 and 24, April 27 and 28, May 25 and 26.
Art Kids, 5-12 years, explore exhibition themes and hands-on art making, 4:30-6 p.m., on Thursdays, March 24, April 28, and May 26. Call 715-845-7010 to register.
During Art 101/Hands-on-Art: Bridging Art & Science, on Thursday, April 7, 5:30-7 p.m., all ages discover how Walter Wick’s optical tricks incorporate visually appealing design principles to educate children about aspects of science and create paper illusions during this presentation by Stephen Schmidt, freelance science teacher and Snapshot Science manager, and Brian Gunning, designer, inventor, and proprietor of Wausome Foods.
Art Beyond Sight, for individuals with blindness and low vision, on Saturday, April 9, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, provides a multisensory exploration of the Wick exhibition, followed by hands-on art making. Call 715-845-7010 to register.
During Family Science on Saturday, April 16, 1-3 p.m., all ages join Snapshot Science instructors for hands-on demonstrations inspired by the optical illusions, mechanics, and scientific principles illustrated in Walter Wick’s photographs. Bring a camera and capture your own visual puzzle with the help of some scientific experimentation and creativity.
During Art 101 Bridging Art & Science, on Wednesday, April 20, 12:15-1 p.m., adults explore Walter Wick’s optical illusions and the visually appealing design principles behind them, which can be used to teach children science concepts. Snapshot Science staff leads the program.
Night Out @ the Woodson features Art 101: Museum Globetrotting Part 1, on Thursday, May 5, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Join director Kathy Foley and curator Andy McGivern for a virtual visit to a dozen international museums and the artifacts, antiquities, and collections that make each one world renowned. All ages drop in for Hands-on Art, 5:30-7 p.m., to make simple toys from paper.
Art 101 Museum Globetrotting Part 2, on Wednesday, May 18, 12:15-1 p.m., features a celebration of International Museum Day when curator Andy McGivern and educator Catie Anderson present the second half of the Woodson’s virtual journey to great museums around the globe through digital-pilgrimage-worthy artworks.
Avian-Themed Exhibitions from the Museum’s Collection
“Out of the Vault,” opening February 20, focuses on six bird species – mallards, bluebirds, ravens, chickadees, downy woodpeckers and wood ducks – through a sampling of mediums that yield distinctly different artistic interpretations.
“Making Marks,” opening April 9, features a selection of avian-themed drawings that range from quick sketches to intricately detailed illustrations, highlighting artists’ varied approaches and the importance of field observation.
Two additional exhibitions from the Museum’s collection remain on view. “Capturing Nature: Owen J. Gromme,” on view through August 7, includes compositions that integrate the bird and its surroundings. “Audubon to Wyeth: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculptures,” on view through December 31, comprises a dazzling, historic array of bird imagery in artworks spanning the early-nineteenth through late-twentieth centuries.
URL links to exhibition artwork images are available to media representatives upon request; please contact Amy Beck at email@example.com
Woodson Art Museum
First Thurs each month 9am–7:30pm
Thurs during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. Twelfth Street)