Kimball is thrown to the dogs
November 1, 2006
The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington inspired a Kimball Art Center dog revolution.
When art center director, Pam Crowe-Weisberg viewed what was voted the "Best in Show" at the Museum of Glass, she knew she had to bring it to Park City.
"I saw the exhibit there and I was just blown away," Crowe-Weisberg said.
The multi-media exhibit featured a series of works by artists David Gilhooly, William Wegman and Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen that portray dogs in various forms and mediums.
"It was just so much fun and exciting," Crowe-Weisberg said, "something you would never suspect looking at dogs. It’s enchanting."
So enchanting that Crowe-Weisberg and the Kimball Staff is bringing the exhibit, "All About Dogs," to the Kimball Nov. 4 through Jan. 11. Kimball Art Center curator Erin Linder said the Museum of Glass was extremely helpful but there was tedious work in assembling the pieces.
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"There was a lot of paperwork in terms of loan agreements and gathering artwork from Oregon and Washington and bringing it here," Linder said.
After it was settled, the Kimball took the dog theme a step further.
Locals will also pay tribute to the canine community. The Kimball will soon feature doggie art from the Park City Professional Artists (PCPA) through Jan 10. and Dec. 2, the Kimball will join with the Friends of Animals for a fundraiser. There will be a party with a silent auction with all things dog related.
"I just think in Park City everyone loves dogs," Crowe Weisberg said. "I thought it would be a great opportunity to partner with Friends of Animals. We have a great relationship with the PCPA and I thought it would be a great venue to show their talent. I thought it would be great to continue the theme."
The "All About Dogs" exhibit will feature 43 of the 48 pieces shown at the Museum of Glass.
"I don’t think the entire state of Utah has ever had an exhibit like this," Crowe-Weisberg said. "It would be great for every age group. It’s just a wonderful fun exciting show."
The artwork takes on a less serious tone than other exhibits.
"A lot of times, art has to be something serious," Linder said. "This is an exhibit that is nothing but fun. You’ll laugh out loud. This is accessible, approachable art, and that makes it different."
It’s a show that Linder feels will be popular in Park City.
"The subject itself is close to Park City," Linder said. "Everyone seems to be a dog owner. They way they are expressing the dog is unique and very original unlike any you’ve probably seen."
Dog art is unique, according to Linder, and she is constantly searching for fresh pieces to display.
"I think most people wouldn’t go into a museum and see art that’s focused on canines," Linder said. "They see (artwork) of people and environments."
Dogs, she said, are not considered worthy subjects among many art circles.
"It’s nice to debunk that and celebrate dogs. They are worthy of a subject matter," Linder said. "It presents how open the art world is and what can be done in an art center."
Not only is the subject unique but the mediums are as well.
"The ways the three artists are expressing their subjects, the mediums are not what you suspect and are original and creative," Linder said.
"Wegman does wonderful photographs that assume human-like characteristics. We were really lucky to get eight of his Cinderella series, where he is recounting the story. It’s really funny," Linder said. "All three artists have a very humorous take on the dog."
Linder, who is responsible for finding the exhibits, works hard to find exceptional, matchless work to share with the community.
"There’s so much great art out there and so many great ideas," Linder said. "I’m just trying to keep things fresh and keep people’s minds open to all the different ideas that are swirling out there."
Both Weisberg and Linder are constantly keeping their "feelers out and cultivating relationships with the galleries in the West" to bring in artwork that follows the latest trends, Linder said.
"When I’m planning a show, it’s really important to reconcile how his or her art will relate to the community, but also provide an educational and inspirational experience as well.
"We like to think outside of the box," Linder said.
Artist Biographies courtesy of the Kimball Art Center:
Wegman was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1943. Raised in a rural area, he was always surrounded by animals, both wild and domestic, including a family dog. The young Wegman showed an early interest in drawing and painting, later studying painting at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, where he earned a BFA in 1965, followed by studies in the MFA painting and printmaking program at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, which he completed in 1967. After teaching at various universities, Wegman’s interests began to stretch beyond painting, ultimately leading him to photography and the infant medium of video then being pioneered by artists like Nam June Paik whose installation, In Flux House (1993), is currently on view in the Grand Hall.
Wegman acquired his first Weimaraner, Man Ray, in 1970. This marked the beginning of a 12-year collaboration, as Man Ray became a central figure in Wegman’s photography and videos. In 1986, after Man Ray’s death, Fay Ray joined the family, and soon thereafter began another pivotal era of work. This collaboration was marked by Wegman’s use of a Polaroid 20 x 24 inch camera. Fay’s litter, and that of her daughter Battina del Ray (Batty), born in 1995, provided the artist with numerous models and personalities to capture on film in the years that followed.
The artist lives and works in New York City and Rangeley, Maine.
Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1960. She and her father, a naturalist, spent many days exploring the woods of Milford, Ohio, where she was raised. Growing up in a family that shared a fondness for nature and excursions in the wild fostered the artist’s unbridled love and respect for animals and the natural world. This, together with her passion for sculpting glass, is the driving force behind her creativity.
Willenbrink-Johnsen has participated at Pilchuck Glass School as an instructor, gaffer and teaching assistant since 1993, starting humbly as a batch girl in 1987 and later working with the master glassblower and artist William Morris for over 16 years. In 1999 she was the recipient of the prestigious Corning Award, which allowed her to concentrate on her studies at Pilchuck. Willenbrink-Johnsen has conducted lectures and workshops in over 40 educational facilities throughout Australia, England, Japan, Canada and the United States, including the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Maine; Tulane University, Louisiana; San Jose State University, California and the University of Hawaii.
The artist lives and works in Mount Vernon, Washington.
David Gilhooly was born in Auburn, California, in 1943. At the age of five, he began collecting things like telephone wire, rocks and odd bits of animal and plant life. Stamps, coins and other collectables soon followed. His father, a veterinarian, moved the family in 1952 to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, where Gilhooly, so close and so inspired by the sea, developed an interest in marine biology, geology and archeology. When the family returned to California, his artistic talents emerged when he began to create cartoons for his junior high school newspaper. At the age of 19, after several moves between Puerto Rico and southern California, Gilhooly enrolled in Robert Arneson’s first ceramics class at the University of California, Davis (UCD), where he eventually earned his BA and MA degrees, studying under artists Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley and Roy DeForest, who would later become his mentor.
Gilhooly has been an instructor of ceramic sculpture at UCD, the University of Saskatchewan and San Jose State College. He is respected as one of the leading Funk ceramists and is known widely for his whimsical work featuring subjects such as food and animals most notably frogs and dogs. Elements scavenged from the detritus of consumer products are incorporated into his art, which is inspired by sources as varied as Greek and Roman mythology, Christian symbolism, Old Masters, pop culture and textile patterns and then cleverly remixed and revised with equal skill in ceramics, assemblage and printmaking. His most recent works are assemblages fashioned from action figure toys and vintage jigsaw puzzles that demonstrate his uncanny wit and wicked sensibility.
The artist lives and works in Newport, Oregon.