Birds In Art at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum!
by Rachelle Siegrist
Wes and I boarded a plane early last Thursday morning headed for Wausau, Wisconsin to attend the Birds In Art opening weekend, at the gorgeous Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Minutes after landing, we were greeted by the smiling face of a friendly volunteer, holding a Birds In Art sign. Instantly we attracted attention from onlookers in the airport, asking if it was the BIA opening weekend, stating they were planning to attend. With several onlookers, the volunteer gave us all a sneak preview of our paintings in the catalogue!
Beside our paintings in Birds In Art
After a quick shuttle ride, we arrived at the hotel where we were greeted by more smiling faces of volunteers from the museum. That evening, along with numerous fellow artists, we boarded one of the big buses heading over to the museum. Even though it’s been several years since Wes and I had been there, we felt like we were returning home catching the first glimpse of the beautiful Woodson Museum, and the many familiar friendly faces inside! We enjoyed our first view of the exhibition, totally impressed as always, with the amazing quality of the art! In no time the museum was filled to the brim and overflowing with excited attendees viewing the artwork and meeting the artists.
The bustling evening passed very quickly and seemed to end as soon as it had begun. Friday morning we enjoyed a couple of informative presentations by Walt Matia and Karen Bondarchuk, before boarding the buses, where we were taken to the gorgeous Wausau Country Club for the artist luncheon. As always it was truly delightful, complete with delicious food, wonderful conversation and much laughter!
After lunch we were taken back to the museum, where we had time to leisurely walk around and view the entire show. Blessed with a lovely sunny day, I also enjoyed meandering through the sculpture garden, whilst enjoying the numerous sculptures and flowers, and fell in love with “The Dance” completed in June 2016 by The Myth Makers, featuring two HUGE Sandhill Cranes!
That evening we attended the official opening reception at the museum, which was once again filled to the brim! People were delighted to see the show, and I was thrilled to have so many tell me how my painting “The Usual Suspects” made them smile and laugh, while others told Wes how amazed they were with the detail of the tiny spider web in his “Lake Side Perch“! Soon we were boarding buses and heading to our celebratory dinner party at the Jefferson Street Inn, where table hosts Don and Linda Haney made us feel so welcome and provided great entertainment through the evening! Don and Wes were excited to learn of their shared interest in model railroads, and it seemed the stories and interactions became funnier as the evening progressed, leaving us all laughing so hard much of the time, that our stomachs were hurting! We enjoyed delicious food with the best being the vanilla cheesecake with fresh berries for dessert!
Our host table during the Birds In Art celebratory dinner
Saturday morning we headed back to the museum for the public opening. It’s always very exciting as artists to see masses of excited people attending art exhibitions, and it was wonderful to see the museum packed out once again! This year’s master artist, Don Rambadt, gave a most enjoyable talk and afterwards it was my turn to experience a bit of nerves during our TV interview with WSAW TV 7‘s Kevin Carr, talking with us about our paintings in the exhibition. I must say he did a great job and actually made us feel very relaxed!
Wes and I have had paintings in Birds In Art numerous times before and are honored that they have paintings from each of us in their permanent collection! I was even more delighted to discover that my miniature painting “The Pigeon Hole” is currently on display in an exhibition showcasing art depicting birds in our landscapes entitled “Passionate Pursuits“!
My painting “The Pigeon Hole” featured in the Passionate Pursuits exhibition
Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to the stunning museum and friendly volunteers, board the bus, and head to Hazelhurst where we would spend the remainder of the day. Upon arriving, I was thrilled when Alice, who’s family graciously opens their beautiful lake side estate to the artist each year, told me they had kayaks since she knew of my love for the sport! So after group photos were taken, Wes and I immediately took them out for a relaxing paddle around part of Lake Katherine.
We were blessed with a glorious picture perfect day, with clear blue skies and mild temps making it perfect for enjoying the lake! After returning we decided to join a few artists on a relaxing pontoon boat ride. Several Bald Eagles graciously posed for us while we got several splendid photos that will become miniature paintings very soon!
One sitting atop a tree on a small island watched as we slowly and quietly approached, looking down at us as if to say “Well hello there . . . can I help you with something?” Another was perched atop a grand, old growth White Pine, looking very stately indeed! We also enjoyed learning some of the history of how the Woodson family’s estate started in the area, from Captain Ron during our blissful boat ride.
Every visit to Hazelhurst requires a visit to Gale Fisher’s stunning flower gardens, which is always such a treat! Numerous flowers were still at peak this year, surrounding us with bold splashes of color in every direction! Here are a few photos of her gardens for you to enjoy . . .
The afternoon flew by, and it was time for our delicious supper. I was delighted to find out that it was Gale sitting across from me, and so enjoyed talking with her about the various flowers in her picturesque gardens, even learning that she too lived in South Florida for awhile. I must admit I wasn’t surprised when she said her favorite smelling southern flower of all time is a Gardenia too!
As with all things fun and exciting . . . time flies and thus the sun had soon set and we were aboard the bus, heading back to Wausau. It was a wonderful weekend and our heartfelt thanks goes out to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson staff and family for making it so memorable! Now safely back at home, Wes and I are greatly anticipating our Artists Residency coming up at the museum October 28 – November 3rd. For more information on this exciting opportunity visit their website at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. To read more about our two paintings featured in this years show, see this enlightening article in the Wausau Daily Herald . . . “6 Artists to look for at Woodson Art Museum’s 2017 ‘Birds in Art’ exhibition
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
Here’s our two fun pieces for Project Postcard. The past several years Birds in Art artists are asked to consider donating postcard-sized artworks which then are sold to members and guests during the Friday evening exhibition preview to raise funds for Woodson Art Museum acquisitions, and it has met with overwhelming success every year!
Our Project Postcards for Birds In Art this year
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Until next time . . .