The Green Bay Art Colony: 'Bringing the world' to Green Bay

Aimee Suzanne Kruse-Ross

aimee suzanne kruse-ross | the neville now | feb. 2018

The GBAC's 103rd exhibition runs at the Neville from Feb. 9 through April 1.In 1915, nine area women gathered together to create the Green Bay Art Club, an art appreciation group that would later evolve into the Green Bay Art Colony. The all-ladies group met in their homes to nurture one another as well as the art they created.

Holding their first exhibit in the basement of the Green Bay Public Library, the exhibit was such a success, the group saw a need for a permanent museum that could “bring the world" — art, history and science — to Green Bay.

Time would only reinforce their vision for a permanent museum as by 1923, the group had completely outgrown their space at the library.

In 1925, the city was gifted $60,000 by New York's Mr. and Mrs. Mason for the purposes of building a museum and on July 23, 1927, the GBAC's vision was finally realized with the opening of the Neville Public Museum.

Today, the partnership between the museum and that group of artists — now called the Green Bay Art Colony — endures and the museum is home to the GBAC's yearly exhibits, which highlight a variety of work created within the past year by its members.

The pieces displayed during these exhibits are as diverse as the women who create them.

“We have more than 20 artists that work in all mediums, like pottery, paper mache, photography, painting, collage, quilting, fabric and textiles," says museum curator Lisa Kain.

The works in this year's exhibit are the result of a professional jurying process conducted by Shannon Piette, the executive director of the Richeson School of Art & Gallery in Kimberly, Wisconsin. The art pieces exhibited have been culled down to the 20 or so top works that will be featured during the colony's 103rd exhibition, which opens at the Neville on February 9.

GBAC member and textile artist Sandy Melroy used her career in sewing and design to propel her art into her current passion for hand-painted silk. Melroy believes that working artists need opportunities to display their work to the public.

“I firmly believe the arts are a vital part of our community," says Melroy. “They bring so many positives and make the places we live and work more creative, more fun!"

“The Neville gives us such an amazing presence and I'm very proud of our association with [the museum]."

Teresa Ann Gifford works in art quilts, assemblage and book art. She's been a Green Bay Art Colony member for nearly nine years.

“It's a very inspiring group of women artists versed in a variety of mediums," says Gifford. “Everyone is sharing their ideas with one another."

Today, the colony continues to provide a nurturing environment for both established and emerging artists. And, just as it did at more than 100 years ago, the colony continues to bring the world of art into the broader tapestry of the Green Bay community.

“Communities are richer for having a vibrant art scene, both for residents and for tourists," adds Melroy. “We look more alive … and more encouraging of diversity — that's the recipe for a thriving community!"

The Green Bay Art Colony's 103rd exhibition titled “Anything Spectacular Will Do" opens Feb. 9 and runs through April 1, 2018.

For more information on this exhibit visit NevillePublicMuseum.org.

For more information on the Green Bay Art Colony visit GreenBayArtColony.com.

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