Wausau, Wisconsin: Backstories are in the spotlight this spring with an array of artwork from the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s collection in Beyond Artworks: Artists & Their Stories, on view March 6 through June 6.
Beyond Artworks shares stories of artists, their inspiration, and how artworks were acquired by the Museum for preservation and interpretation via varied exhibitions, always admission free.
Discover the tale and trace the trail that led to the acquisition of a rare oil painting and a hand-colored aquatint by John James Audubon. Experience artworks by three generations of Wyeth painters, N.C., Andrew, and Jamie, comparing and contrasting their distinct styles and gaining insights into their inspiration and work.
The hows and whys behind artists’ inspiration are peppered throughout Beyond Artworks. Describing his acrylic painting of shorebirds, Pacific, Robert Bateman wrote: “During stressful times, I find it helpful to close my eyes, breathe deeply, and picture a pleasant, peaceful place. . . . In my vision, it’s a calm, sunny day with just the whisper of little wavelets as they touch the sand. Instead of a focal point to distract from a more meditative state, there is only a slight scattering of marine life and just the hint of bird life . . . unidentified shorebirds.”
Other stories emphasize the power of personal relationships. A watercolor painting by Frank Weston Benson, Chickadees, which had been owned by poet Robert Frost, became the perfect way to honor a member of the Museum’s founding family, fondly remembered for wearing a chickadee-embroidered sweater.
Ever on the quest to continue building the Museum’s world-class collection of avian art, curator Jane Weinke noticed in a 2007 gallery newsletter an image and story about a rare oil painting, Pacific Loons, by John James Audubon. The painting would augment several Audubon prints in the Museum’s collection and also prompt the acquisition of Black-throated Diver, a hand-colored aquatint created for Audubon’s The Birds of America, featuring watercolors of 435 life-size North American birds. The stories that unfold are part of Beyond Artworks, which provides opportunities to experience, compare, and contrast Audubon artworks.
Through purchases, gifts, and bequests, the collection has grown since 1976 to encompass more than 14,000 artworks, yet – because of space, preservation, and exhibition narrative considerations – only a portion can be on view at a time. This exhibition celebrates and returns collection artwork to the spotlight in spring 2021; responding to Covid-19 in spring 2020, the Woodson Art Museum re-configured its largest gallery for special/traveling exhibitions rather than featuring selections from the collection. This change allowed for installations to be physically distanced, thereby creating an even more welcoming and safer environment for visitors. The Museum reshuffled and reimagined its exhibition schedule and draws upon its own resources in spring 2021 to highlight collection artworks via new combinations and narratives, sparking visitors’ connections, too.
Discover the synergistic power of artworks and stories this spring via Beyond Artworks, on view through Sunday, June 6, 2021. UMR is the presenting sponsor.
The Museum reopened to all February 6 after a proactive closure during the region’s coronavirus surge. All safety measures remain in place: mask wearing, physical distancing, and sanitizing; learn more here. Before visiting, always admission free, please check www.lywam.org for any updates.
Woodson Art Museum Hours
First Thurs of each month 9am–7:30pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007