I like the word “absurd” and mental images it conjures – ridiculous, silly, incongruous . . . like a duck on a bike. Birds in Art artist David Milton agrees. He chose his painting’s subject – the 1950s tin toy – at the start of the coronavirus quarantine as a metaphor for the absurdity of the situation we are experiencing.
I’ve long felt the public opening of Birds in Art on the Saturday after Labor Day, signified the start of autumn.
This blog post previews one example of the inventive teamwork behind this fall’s visually focused Art Park installation, as the typical hands-on, interactive stations and art projects familiar to visitors aren’t possible during the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizations, especially relatively small ones like the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum that engender long tenures among staff, are a lot like families . . . and close-knit ones, at that. We don’t just work together, we get to know one another and we care deeply about one another.
It’s bittersweet, therefore, to share the news of administrative manager Shari Schroeder’s retirement at the end of September. While I am thrilled for Shari and her family – and know that Woodson Wanderings readers will be, too – I am experiencing more than a twinge of blueness when I think about the Woodson Art Museum without her. Shari represents a key piece of the puzzle that makes the Museum staff not only a productive whole, but also relevant in a multi-faceted and connected way.
Thirty-one years ago, I had the pleasure of phoning Maynard Reece to tell him the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum wished to honor him as the 1989 Master Wildlife Artist in tandem with that fall’s Birds in Art exhibition.
I don’t recall Maynard’s exact words, but I’m certain they were humble, sincere, warm, and filled with gratitude. His response was in keeping with his gentle personality, which along with his considerable talents and penchant for wildfowl and wildlife subjects served him very well.
Working from home while many “safer-at-home” orders remain in effect, I employ a coping strategy suggested by many mental health specialists – distraction. I imagine art I wish to experience in person in a gallery and think especially of the Woodson Art Museum’s collection.
Literature and art are natural companions; children’s illustrated literature is an early introduction to both.
Each year, as Birds in Art inevitably sneaks up on me, I consider ways to share and interpret the avian-themed artwork with Museum docents, visiting students, and program participants. The annual process of looking for serendipitous themes or popular subjects in Birds in Art begins in May, when fellow curator of education Lisa Hoffman and I view small, printed images of exhibition artworks spread out on the library table by administrative manager Shari Schroeder.