One of my favorite Woodson Art Museum exhibitions is currently on view. No, it’s not Birds in Art, which is fantastic by the way, and it is not one of our permanent collection exhibitions. It’s relatively small and located where if your eyes aren’t peeled, you might walk right past it.
In the Museum’s lower level is the temporary exhibition To Woodson Friends, a collection of artwork and handwritten comments from artists who stayed in the Museum’s guesthouse during artist residencies. While I have seen many of the artworks and sentiments in the guesthouse guestbook before, what makes the exhibition meaningful for me are the memories I have of the time these artists spent at the Museum. While exhibitions and recurring programs come and go, interactions with artists truly mark the time for Woodson Art Museum staff.
It’s hard to forget using a steamroller to create large-scale prints with printmaker Sherrie York. Or what about the time sculptor Paul Rhymer, Museum educator Catie Anderson, and I dominated a game of trivia at Malarkey’s Pub in downtown Wausau? Staff serenading paper sculptor Calvin Nicholls on his birthday was embarrassing for all parties involved, and last but not least, was a Halloween lunch when painter (and former funeral home employee) Wes Siegrist, shared the difficulties of handling cadavers in the Florida summer heat.
When I peruse To Woodson Friends, I can’t help but think of these memories and others from residencies past. As I post this blog, we are in the middle of a ten-day residency with science illustrator and artist Jane Kim, who is not only creating a mural for the Museum’s permanent collection, but meeting with school groups, and giving a talk on her artistic process as well as signing books about her two-and-a-half-year mural project for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
As a deft and accomplished illustrator and artist, I’m sure Jane will have no problem filling a page in the guestbook with an artwork. However, I know it won’t be as memorable as Jane (along with the Museum’s creative consultant Shannon Pueschner) learning to curl for the first time . . .
PS They’re both naturals!