kasey schumacher | the neville now | july 2018
In the midst of concert series, farmers markets and food trucks, there are many ways to fill your summer in Green Bay. One activity you should be sure to add to your list is visiting the Art Annual Juried Exhibition at the Neville Public Museum.
Since 1915, art exhibits have been an integral part of the museum's history. In 1942, museum director, Earl Wright, initiated a juried art competition. Since that time, the Art Annual has become an exhibit showcasing the artistic talents of many local artists in Northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
This year marks the 73rdjuried exhibition. This year's juror is Graeme Reid, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA).
The annual exhibit opened an application process for artists earlier this year and over 200 pieces were submitted. Graeme Reid chose a final 38 works of art from 32 artists. Art pieces range in mediums from ceramics to photography, chalk pastel, oil on canvas and newspaper collage paintings. While there was no set theme the artists were required to adhere to, Reid found a way to weave a common thread between the pieces chosen. How does a juror do this while determining what pieces will be selected out of over 200 submissions from 84 artists?
In his juror's statement, Reid shares:
“We live in turbulent times. So much so that perhaps at an art exhibition most of us really don't want reminded of it by anything that could be considered 'in your face.' That being said, the entries I selected … were subtle but certainty (in my mind) reflective of current affairs. Tornados, destructions, the good and the bad, unsettling images that combine bugs and beauty. To me these spoke of our national situation and the fact that so many, many things are beyond our control, while some are not."
While the pieces spoke of our national situation to Reid, they were created locally. If you explore the 2,300-square foot exhibit, you'll notice a heat map of Wisconsin and Michigan displayed on a wall, showcasing where the artists call home. Some live a few minutes from the museum, others are just a few hours away. Some are local art professors at St. Norbert College, others are current students or highly skilled art enthusiasts. Knowing each artist hails from our community adds a dimension to the collection you won't be able to find anywhere else.
Why would someone choose to return to this exhibit year after year?
Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director at the Neville says, “Because it's different every year. You're never going to see the same pieces of artwork and you won't see the same artists either. A lot of artists do submit year after year, but because it's growing, we're getting stiffer competition. The quality is increasing and the artists are seeing that themselves. This exhibit shows high-quality artwork from recognized artists."
In addition to simply viewing and analyzing the pieces, Cullen developed a unique element to the exhibit.
“I created a little seek-and-find activity. We try to do that with all of our art exhibits to have some interactivity," says Cullen. “I created one for the Art Annual where it asks participants to look for the pollinators that exist in the exhibit. There's a butterfly in one piece, there's a bee in another. It takes the viewer on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find specific images or aspects in art pieces. It allows kids and families to become engaged with the pieces, looking deeper into them rather than just on the surface. There's a lot going on with this exhibit and you can spend a lot of time exploring this one."
Take an afternoon to visit, interact and appreciate the artwork of our community members at the Neville Public Museum. The pieces are vibrant, meaningful and will allow you to subtly reflect on the collective current social and political climate.
The Neville Public Museum 73rdArt Annual Juried Exhibition runs through July 29, 2018.
For more information on this exhibit visit NevillePublicMuseum.org.