Swan Song

By: lywam on June 23rd, 2010

I knew this day would come – and now it’s bearing down on me. I’m retiring on July 2 after 33 years at the Woodson Art Museum!

Where have these years gone? My children were 6 and 10 years old in 1977 and they’re now 39 and 43! I was fresh off a three-year stint teaching English at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Wausau. Not knowing what to do after I decided to leave education, I applied for a clerical position at the Chamber of Commerce, where I soundly failed a typing test. The kind folks there told me that the one-year-old art museum in town (did I even know Wausau had an art museum??) was looking for someone who could spell and write. Sounded do-able. I applied, got the job, and found myself in a whole new world.

And what a great world it’s been.

What will I miss most? Working with colleagues who have a great sense of humor yet take what they do seriously, aren’t afraid to tackle new projects, and put up with me when I write memos like “More Than Three Little Pigs” (to remind us all to clean up after ourselves in the break room!).

After that will be the variety of art I’ve come to know about through the works the Museum collects and through our awesome changing exhibitions. I took a couple of art history classes at UWMC in the mid-1980s, but I’ve learned so much more through my experiences at the Woodson. The good thing is I can still come back to see, enjoy, and learn every time a new exhibition opens.

Last but not least will be the many artists, authors, and program presenters I’ve come to know. Everybody seems to remember Jimmy Stewart’s visit in 1987, but I like to recall pop-up book artist Robert Sabuda, who wanted to go to Wal-Mart while he was here because he never gets to do that in New York City! And children’s book artist Denise Fleming, who told of a hilarious flatulation experience that had everyone at dinner aching from laughing so hard.

And how about all the Birds in Art artists who’ve visited the Museum over the years! So many of them feel like members of my extended family; in fact, I see some of them more than I do my extended family! I’ve told a number of artists in the 2010 exhibition that I’m planning to be out of town during this September’s opening weekend because otherwise I’d inevitably be drawn into the “force field” that their energy and excitement creates.

It’s time to let go and say goodbye to the Woodson Art Museum – my second happy home these many years.

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