Summertime so far has been extra fun for me; I spent the last week in June and the second week in July outside in the Woodson Art Museumsculpture garden. Yes, as a museum educator I was working; first coordinating a plein-air workshop with artist Janeice Linden and then leading a week of children’s summer art camps.
Time outside in the Margaret Woodson Fisher Sculpture Gardenprovided a view of our visitors I normally don’t have from my office. I was able to see who visits, what they look at, and how they interact.
I was excited to meet grandparents and their grandchildren, families, couples, and individuals visiting and even picnicking in the garden. One young visitor was thrilled when I introduced him to the newest, touchable sculpture: Prince Marvin, a large bronze frog by Geoffrey Dashwood, now sits across the walkway from The Heavyweight, Burt Brent’s bronze hippo that children love to climb on while parents snap photos. A few visitors already have kissed Prince Marvin, and so far he’s remained a frog. However, hope springs eternal; one never knows when a prince might appear.
I noticed visitors like to rename the sculptures. Their humor is contagious and their joy, endearing. Debates still rage about whether The Heavyweight is a girl or boy. Based on my observations, Henry or Henrietta are the top name choices, used almost equally by visitors when referring to the hippo sculpture.
Debra Butterfield’s horse, Kua is the most widely debated sculpture in the garden. Is it made of driftwood or bronze? If you think it’s made of bronze, you are correct. If you guessed driftwood, you are not too far off because Kua started as driftwood and became a bronze sculpture through the lost-wax casting process. If you’d like to learn more, lost-wax bronze casting will be thoroughly explored this fall during Paul Rhymer’s residency, October 22 through 27.
The array of outdoor art has grown with the addition of Gwynn Murrill’s canine and feline sculptures. The large cats and dogs have wide appeal for all ages and are prompting new antics in the sculpture garden. I’ve heard voice commands given to the dogs to sit, stay, and roll over. Bronze sculptures always sit and stay when given the right command.
Thanks to all the visitors who shared their joy and laughter while I was in the garden this summer. You make working at the Woodson Art Museum rewarding and fun.