There’s a reason why the summer teen program at the Milwaukee Art Museum is called ArtXpress. In less than a month, a group of sixteen high school students came together to absorb the current Kandinsky: A Retrospective exhibition, digest the meaning of abstraction, and collectively orchestrate their own Kandinsky-esque abstract mural to be blown up onto an Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus that will travel routes all over the city. In addition, the teens also mentored Milwaukee Public Schools elementary schoolers through the exhibition, challenging the teens to more deeply articulate the important aspects of Kandinsky’s pioneering work in abstract art.
Some of my favorite rainy afternoons during my childhood were spent exploring the Milwaukee Art Museum. My family spent hours wandering through the halls – I would often stop and stare at a work, entranced by the interplay of colors or rich, varied textures, and then have to run and catch up with my parents. The experience always continued to inspire my brother and me for days afterwards, and we would spend our free time creating our own artworks or making up stories inspired by our favorite pieces.
Each day, hundreds of visitors enter the Milwaukee Art Museum to stare in awe at the incredible wealth of artworks within the museum’s collection. But what can too often go unrecognized is the equally awe-inspiring work of the many museum staff members, without whom the museum in its current state could not exist. “MAM Behind the Scenes” is a blog series written by Digital Learning intern Emma Fallone to showcase the wide range of positions that make up a museum, and to reveal just a few of of the many people whose work makes the Milwaukee Art Museum a source of inspiration and education. We begin with Heather Winter, Librarian and Archivist.
Can you give a brief description of your job, in thirty seconds or less?
A little bit of anything and everything. My responsibility is to take questions about the Museum’s collection and history, and then answer them with any number of materials from the library or the institutional archives. It’s my job to know where those materials are, and to use them to answer the questions quickly and accurately.
I recently had the privilege of visiting the home and studio of Lois Ehlert, Milwaukee’s award-winning children’s book author, along with my photographer friend Megan Yanz. Ehlert published a personal and inspiring new book in March called The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life, which you can learn more about in our previous post about our visit to Ehlert’s studio. Ehlert’s home, as you can see from Megan’s photos that accompany this post, is a welcoming gallery-like space that deserves its own story. Please enjoy this continuation of our visit to Lois Ehlert’s home and studio, and note that there is a giveaway at the end of this post.
Visiting the Bay View studio of Beth Eaton Pottery, I had the enviable sense of the elements of work and family, business and creativity in harmonious balance. Beth Eaton’s work is featured in the Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art exhibition store, and is full of warmth and laughter and radiates a go-with-the-flow attitude as well as a clear vision. She is someone who both creates and responds to possibilities. An early example: When Beth and her husband bought their home in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, the property needed a garage. Even though their family was just starting out at the time, she thought, why not take the opportunity to create a studio space in this new structure, full of possibility? Although when her children were very young Beth had less time to dedicate to her craft, now that they are older (Hedy just celebrated her seventh birthday and Charlie is twelve), the space is now the base of operations for a growing professional pottery studio. Read on to learn more about Beth and see pictures of her beautiful studio (and for a giveaway!).