When Cranes Call, You Answer

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on June 10th, 2020

Alright, fine; I can’t communicate with cranes. When I say “cranes,” I mean people who work with cranes, which is close enough for me when it comes to blog titles.

ICF Logo The crane-loving colleagues of whom I speak are none other than dedicated staff members at the International Crane Foundation. The International Crane Foundation and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum opened their doors to Wisconsin audiences just three years apart – ICF in 1973 and the Woodson in 1976 – and ever since, the two organizations have shared a close working relationship.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting ICF several times since moving to Wisconsin almost nine years ago to join the team at the Woodson Art Museum. I’ve also had the pleasure of welcoming ICF interns and staff to the Museum for several years during Birds in Art for a guided tour of the galleries and hands-on art making. It’s become one of my favorite groups to visit with each fall.

Catie and Dave pose with Hope the Whooping Crane – ICF’s mascot – at the Madison Garden Expo in early February

Our paths seem to cross often, even running into Hope, ICF’s mascot in Madison in February. Alright, fine; I chased down the big bird. I’m grateful for the spontaneous and planned interactions with the Crane Foundation, so, when ICF’s Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator Lizzie Condon emailed asking to set-up a Zoom meeting to brainstorm ways to collaborate on a virtual offering for online audiences, I was happy to oblige.

We decided on a webinar and an online image gallery, via the Museum’s website, highlighting artworks in the Woodson’s permanent collection that feature cranes. ICF has done a fantastic job providing online content for their supporters and fellow crane enthusiasts. The ICF’s From the Field Webinar Series and a Quarantine with Cranes blog feature lessons, activities, and resources for all ages to engage and learn remotely.

When I’m intimidated by a new project or content that’s a bit out of my comfort zone, I turn to Museum Director Kathy Foley for guidance, or, even better, assistance. I’m grateful Kathy was up for joining me in presenting the Woodson/ICF collaborative webinar, Thursday, June 18, 11 am – Noon. After  Zoom meeting conversations with the ICF team – Lizzie Condon, Education Program Coordinator Ben Lam, and Crane Conservation Naturalist Joey Putnam – we arrived at the webinar’s approach, title, and overarching themes, described as follows:

Join the International Crane Foundation and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum for a special, collaborative webinar, Cranes & Artists: A Creative Dance. The Woodson Art Museum, located in Wausau, Wisconsin, is known worldwide for Birds in Art, an annual, international juried exhibition featuring two-and three-dimensional artworks that draw inspiration from the avian world; indoor birdwatching at its best. Woodson Art Museum Director Kathy Foley and Curator of Education Catie Anderson selected artworks from the Museum’s collection featuring cranes. Kathy and Catie will be your online guides, helping you interpret and enjoy each artwork. Lizzie Condon, Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator for the International Crane Foundation, will be on hand to share biological facts about the cranes, while the group shares stories about artists’ efforts on behalf of crane conservation.

The collection artworks selected for the webinar will be revealed during the virtual presentation. Until then, if you’re intrigued and would like some Woodson/crane content to tide you over, I suggest viewing Master Wildlife Artist Robert Bateman’s interview about Young Sandhill Cranes via the Museum’s YouTube Channel. Robert Bateman, like so many other artists with connections to the Crane Foundation and Woodson Art Museum, is a lifelong conservation advocate, championing the value and urgency of caring for the natural world.

Robert Bateman, Young Sandhill Cranes, 1987, acrylic on hardboard

Please join us during our upcoming webinar (watch the Museum’s social media channels and ICF website for a link to sign up for the free presentation) and enjoy the gallery of artwork images, which will follow.

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