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.
Somehow, summer always seems to slip away before we know it. Only a few days remain to experience this summer’s exhibition, Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India, on view through August 30. Imagine pausing the passage of time, even for an afternoon. Who knows? Maybe visiting the Woodson Art Museum with others will help slow the slippage of sand through the hourglass of summer.
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.
The evergreen I recall from childhood extended to the heavens, and courage was measured by letting go while hanging from a limb eight feet above the ground. The creek meandered – burbling over rocks, exposing imaginary quicksand, nourishing buttercups, and refreshing various wildlife. Milkweed fed Monarch butterflies and provided endless fascination. The rock pile invited both creation and parent-sanctioned destruction.
It’s humbling and a tad shocking to think I have been at the Museum almost a quarter of the time it has been in existence.
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.
As the Woodson Art Museum continues its phased re-opening, visitors are meandering through the sculpture garden, embarking on family seek-and-find sculpture quests, sketching in the galleries, and marveling at the intricate patterns and vibrant colors featured in the summer exhibition.
Among the first visitors to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum during our soft re-opening was a member who took delight in telling me how she couldn’t wait to return to her favorite museum.
Viewing the summer exhibition, celebrating indigenous art of India, I hark back several decades to undergraduate religious studies courses. Though once well-versed in tenets, truths, sacred texts, and iconography, I now only retain oversimplifications of Western and Eastern philosophy and world religions. Dinner conversation with my young adult children is all the proof I need that nimble, nuanced, discourse will atrophy if not exercised. Their arguments are elegant and substantial; mine have morphed into easy-breezy recollections.
It’s been a long – and quiet – twelve weeks. For everyone, including for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.
Although the Museum staff continued to work remotely since mid-March and more recently back in the office – appropriately socially distanced, of course – and despite the extensive, rich content available on our website and via social media, a big something has been missing.