Spring Fever

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on February 13th, 2019

Many of us hoped that on February 2 the weather-predicting groundhog wouldn’t see its shadow – a purported omen that spring is six weeks away. I, too, hoped for a speedy change of season.

Bernard Palchick, Gli Uccelli, 1991, watercolor on paper

Why the eager anticipation? For me, it’s the time of year to change the Museum’s galleries. I love the opportunity to select from the beautiful artworks in the collection. I revel in choosing a theme, finding appropriate artworks, writing text, and matting and framing. It’s always a thrill.

With thousands of artworks in the permanent collection, how do I begin?

Sometimes, an idea pops into my mind. My first consideration for an exhibition theme was a history of ornithological prints. We have many outstanding works by John James Audubon, Mark Catesby, and John Gould; it seemed to be a great idea. Sadly, the logistics don’t work at this time.

My favored way to find inspiration is walking between the racks in collection storage. Simply being surrounded by artwork never fails to spark an idea. It worked, yet again.

One particular artwork caught my eye. Bernard Palchick’s, Gli Uccelli, a watercolor on paper. It was acquired a few years ago, but this will be its first inclusion in a Woodson Art Museum exhibition. I then noticed a painting by Richard Schmid, with a similar story. I’d found my theme: works new to the collection or not recently in an exhibition. After a search through the collection database, I found sixty-five potential “candidates.”

Richard Schmid, White Geese, 1969, oil on hardboard

I struggled with a “just right” title; thanks to tossing words around with Kathy Foley and Matt Foss, an appropriate title emerged: A Collection Medley.

The next few weeks will be spent writing and editing labels and a didactic panel. I’ll share title and some color ideas with Rick Wunsch, the Museum’s graphic designer who will develop a logotype. And, then, my favorite task: choosing the perfect wall paint color to serve as the backdrop for these stunning artworks. I’m keeping that a secret for now.

This is just a teaser, as is a groundhog’s prediction of spring’s arrival. But unlike the furry prognosticator I’m sure to deliver a new exhibition in a few weeks.


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