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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010

Museum of Wisconsin Art’s Added ‘Spark’ in 2011

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The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA) opens 2011 with three exceptional exhibitions. These triple openings complement the museum’s “Spark!” programming, which is based on the “Meet Me at MoMA” program for adults with Alzheimer’s or memory loss at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

MWA Curator of Education Courtney Spousta began the Spark! programs in September 2010 after attending conferences in New York. A Helen Bader Foundation grant helped to initiate the program, which is part of a case study for MoMA’s research to further advance care for people with memory loss. Presently 14 members—seven pairs of caregivers and clients—benefit from these once-a-month sessions in which artworks from the MWA’s collection are discussed.

“This puts the collection to use in a way it should—sparking people’s excitement and observations about art,” Spousta explains with evident enthusiasm. Participants may have little previous experience with art, but exploring the images and their meanings engages caregivers and clients in a relaxing environment that encourages socialization. The MWA, one of the first state museums to integrate Spark! into its educational programming, continues to invite new members to these free meetings.

Spark! programming begins again on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and Spousta will have three new exhibitions to draw from. The MWA’s main gallery features a Jan. 5 opening for the exhibition “Wisconsin Designer Crafts Council: Showcasing the Best in Contemporary Craft.” This premier state council merges fine art and extraordinary craft from about 35 artists working in multiple mediums. An opening reception 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, celebrates the artists. Three award-winners will be announced that afternoon.

Also on Jan. 9, the One From Wisconsin Gallery holds an opening reception for its featured artist, Reginald Baylor. The Milwaukee artist’s vibrant paintings on canvas transfer to fabric, leather, metal and wood, demonstrating the versatility of Baylor’s artwork.

On Jan. 12, the MWA’s Focus Gallery features Rodger Bechtold’s paintings in “Wisconsin in Simple Terms: Rodger Bechtold’s Landscapes.” The artist’s rural Wisconsin scenes, featuring high-intensity hues that emphasize the stark compositions, have earned him national recognition.

These impressive programs and exhibitions generate excitement for the year ahead—and it should be a big year, as MWA aspires to break ground on a new building in 2011.

Art Happenings

“Color Vibrations”

Tory Folliard Gallery

233 N. Milwaukee St.

The brilliant hues in this exhibition will contrast with the gray skies and white snow of winter. Five artists explore color using various mediums, including Jonathan Kramka and his site-specific light installation. “Color Vibrations” opens Jan. 7; a reception takes place 5-9 p.m. Jan. 21.

“Lake Boats: The Photography of Jim Brozek and Christopher Winters”

Grohmann Museum

1025 N. Broadway

Two photographers capture day-to-day life on freighters that navigate the Great Lakes in this unique print exhibition that opens Jan. 14.