The Joy of Unknowns

By: Kathy Kelsey Foley, director on June 15th, 2011

In my work world, no two days are ever alike. That’s mostly a good thing. I never know what surprise or opportunity the next phone call might bring. If I can be flexible and open, the unknown can be filled with promise.
Tom Howatt and Kathy Foley
Such was the result of a phone call a few months ago from Wausau Paper President and CEO and Woodson Art Museum Board member Tom Howatt.
Tom, who also serves as President of the Board of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, explained that the WMC Board would be holding an early June retreat in Wausau and he wondered if an evening event at the Woodson Art Museum could be arranged.
On Thursday, June 9, I had the pleasure of welcoming three dozen WMC Board members and staff to the Museum. From the get-go it was one of those terrific experiences during which you make connections and engage in conversations that reinforce the notion that six degrees of separation are far too many . . . two degrees are more like it.
My first conversation was with a WMC Board member from Door County who serves as president of the Board of Sturgeon Bay’s Miller Art Museum. The Woodson has shared exhibitions with the Miller and director Bonnie Hartmann is among my respected colleagues. Further chatting revealed that this gentleman not only knew my good friend Brian Kelsey, a former museum colleague who now oversees Peninsula Players, but also had been Brian’s father’s business partner. It is, indeed, a small world.
WMC Board members in the
sculpture garden with Kathy Foley

Another conversation revealed one gentleman’s long-standing interest in Deborah Butterfield’s sculpture – her bronze horse, Kua, is a Woodson sculpture garden highlight. Yet another guest spoke of his familiarity with Owen Gromme, the Wisconsin artist/naturalist who organized the Woodson’s inaugural exhibition, Birds of the Lakes, Fields and Forests, which became the annually organized and celebrated Birds in Art.
Yet for the majority of guests, their evening at the Woodson Art Museum was their introduction to all that we do and offer. I readily admit that I love first-time visitors. I love to share my passion for the Woodson Art Museum – our exhibitions, collection, and programs. I especially like to think that my enthusiasm will help to convert these first-timers to repeat visitors and that they will, in turn, share their positive experiences here with others.
That unknown factor holds such potential.

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