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Art and Love in Wisconsin

Sunday, September 9, 2018

 Displaying two perfect, squeaky squidgy Wisconsin cheese curds. From left, Master Artists Robert Bateman, Cindy House, and Not-Master Artist me.

The center of art in Wisconsin: Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, with a fabulous crane installation called "The Dance" by Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein.

What a sculpture garden this museum has! 

It's not at all like me to blog something so current, but I'm stuck for 7 hours in Detroit's airport, just trying to get home on a dreary gray day, victim of a malfunctioning emergency aisle light on a plane, that had to be fixed before it would be cleared for takeoff. That little burned out light meant I missed my connection in Detroit, and the next plane going to Akron doesn't leave Detroit until 10  tonight. That gets me in at Indigo Hill at approximately 1:30 AM, after I drive the two hours home in blinding rain. Yay. First world problems. I have a car, I have a home to go to, right? Still, it is a bit of a bummer to be so tired and not be able to get home in a remotely timely way.

Reflecting on the great time I had while in the care of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's wonderful staff seems a good way to feel thankful while sitting in a corner on my enforced staycation. Cindy House, fabulous pastel artist and dear friend, asked me to introduce her at two functions during the Birds in Art show at which she received the Master Artist medal. I got to hang it around her neck!!  I also wrote a long article for the show catalogue, in which I attempted to say enlightened things about the importance of her glorious art. Better than that was getting to tell a lot of other artists and art appreciators how much Cindy means to me personally. I really loved getting to do that.

One thing I wanted everyone to know was how funny Cindy is, something that doesn't come through in her majestic pastels at all. My intro turned out well, because Cindy's talk immediately after my little speech was cripplingly funny. Here, she's describing being on enormous Antarctic seas in a hurricane, and saying, "You know you're in trouble when the maid puts a seatbelt on your bed..."

The talent packed into this wee person is inestimable. Go to her website and look at her pastels. This is one of my favorites. You can see through the waves way down into the water.

We had no trouble at all with PDA's. That's how we roll.

It was such a delight to be among friends and fellow bird artists. I got to see Elwin Van der Kolk, with his gorgeous miniature of shelducks on a mudflat.

Such a simple concept, but so, so beautifully realized.  His website: for more of Elwin's incredible work click here.

I've no idea how it came up, but somehow Elwin and I discovered that we had both contributed art to the cover of two different editions of Vernon Head's wonderful book, The Rarest Bird in the World: The Search for the Nechisar Nightjar. Elwin did the cover of the Dutch language edition:

and my painting was used for the cover of the English language paperback edition:

The bird is known only from one dried wing from a roadkill, which is why our paintings have a certain similarity.

More beauty--John Pitcher's breathtaking nesting parasitic jaeger.  Holy wow.

Irish artist Julian Friers' incredible northern fulmar painting. He's a barrel of monkeys--plays guitar and pennywhistle; paints portraits of rock stars, extinct animals and other awesome things. His website is here.


I gloried in a huge auxiliary exhibit of Master Artist Anne Senechal Faust's serigraphs. Oh My Gosh. 

It was such a privilege to be here among such gifted people. Utterly humbling. 

Speaking of soul-feeding... I got to spend some incredible quality time with the wildly talented Debby Kaspari. We made music together, yakked, talked art and life, and soaked each other in. Oh my heart.

The artists all had to stand by their paintings in the Birds in Art show, which left me orbiting rather aimlessly, and wanting to get out into the warm September sunshine. There's no way you can put out enough cheese and crackers for several thousand people, so I got really hungry at the cheeseless Saturday morning public opening.  I decided to go foraging. I only walked about five blocks before I lucked out and found some wild plums dropping their fruit with abandon along a driveway in Wausau. 

 I gobbled about a dozen of them, and wish I'd taken more.

Saturday afternoon is given over to a trip to Hazelhurst, the private estate of the Woodson family which so graciously hosts Birds in Art. There are ravishing gardens which looked fabulous, even in September.  Glorious tall Japanese anemones blew me away.

 Morning glories were just starting to bloom, and already closed for the day. Mine in Ohio are only thinking about making buds. It is ever thus.

 I was delighted to find a new bee for me: Tri-colored or Orange-belted Bumblebee, Bombus ternarius. It's on Sedum "Autumn Joy."

They're zippy little bees, tolerant but fast. 

I found a Grail--a plant I've grown but once and then lost touch with. This is Salvia patens, Gentian Sage, so called because the only flower that comes close to its jaw-dropping pure royal blue would be bottle gentian. I have to say that this salvia beats even gentian for a true blue. It's bluer than almost any delphinium I've seen. Not a hint of lavender. BLUE. blue blue electric blue. Nothing like it.  Not that I'm hung up on blue or anything.

Debby Kaspari, a fellow plant freak and awesome gardener, caught me massaging Salvia seedpods until I found some fat brown ripe seeds. Eureka!

I would imagine you know what will happen to those. It's gonna take about a year, but expect to see this plant in my garden in 2019. Garden goals!

Debby and I were taken on a deluxe two-person sunset pontoon boat cruise around the lake, during which we ogled a young common loon, three hooded mergansers, a bald eagle and about ten billion whirligig beetles. I fell asleep with the sun on my cheek.  I dreamt I was in a Cindy House painting.  And that is a beautiful dream indeed.

Thank you, Kathy Foley and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum staff, for having me up to honor one of my dearest friends. It was a trip I'll never forget. 
Thank you my dear dear friends for all the love. I'm going to try and store it up for awhile. 
A badly-lit goodbye clench at the hotel last night. I had soul-feeding conversations with (from left) Amy Montague, Larry Barth, Cindy House, Barry (and Lisa, far left!) Van Dusen and Eric Derleth, and I'm much the better for it. Gosh I love these people. I feel so lucky to call them friends. Shoutout to my beloved James Coe who was yakkin' elsewhere when this shot was taken.

Now to walk .6 miles in search of dinner. DTW Terminal A, here I come.


Oh my what a time! Nothing better than being around people who "get you." I'll be checking out the links for an art gallery tour. Definitely soul feeding. Thanks for sharing! Have missed you. Kim in PA

I'm so happy that you enjoyed the museum! I went there for my honeymoon eons ago-we were just driving around in the pre-iPhone, gps days and came across it. Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend minus the layover. And I love that blue too.

Oh my, I've long drooled over Robert Bateman's incredible wildlife paintings. And there he is, getting ready to eat a cheese curd!

Cindy House's pastels are really something, the ocean one especially. Hard to believe they are pastels, which has never been my favorite medium.

I'm so in awe that you know these folks. They are unbelievable painters, and I have to admit that I will never be able to paint that way. Thanks for sharing. Want even aware there was a Birds In Art.

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