Director's Note 10/1/15

October 1, 2015

The night before last was our final late Wednesday of the season; in fact, it was pitch dark well before we locked the gates at 7:30 pm. As we head into the fall we will continue to be open six days a week, 10 am-5 pm (closed Thursdays); if you still would like to come in the evening, you have one more autumnal chance when Naomi Cobb leads her pre-Halloween Harvest Moon Night Walk on October 30.

There's lots of seasonal maintenance going on inside and outside at Lynden, from testing generators and alarms to re-setting the bluestone path that leads to our front door. School groups are returning for field trips: just outside my window I see a group torn between wanting to climb one of our elms and testing the sound and motion possibilities of Heinz Mack's Three Graces. Planning is in the air, too: our meeting rooms are filled with organizations deep in retreats, and I frequently trip over pre-occupied people on their way to break-out sessions around the house or on the grounds.

I took a quick trip to Minneapolis--or really to Hennepin Avenue--at the end of last week. I drove up with David Ravel of Alverno Presents, with whom I collaborate on dance projects at Lynden, to see Tournamento, a Sara Michelson performance, at the Walker Art Center. It was also an opportunity to immerse myself in a Jack Whitten retrospective surveying five decades of relentless, rigorous experimentation with his chosen medium--acrylic paint. Amidst the many pleasures of experiencing the work, I could not help pondering how and why an artist of this stature could be hiding in plain sight, his work largely absent from major venues for long stretches of time. By calling attention to the skin-like properties of acrylics in his work, Whitten provided a running commentary on the relative invisibility of African American artists. We did manage an early-morning walk through the mostly disassembled Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (major renovations going on there) before heading back. Leaves were turning on the beautiful drive, a preview of the weeks to come; we filled the time discussing the Michelson piece, a work that in its structure, content, and execution generated countless questions.

The trip also clarified my interest in work that blurs the boundary between painting and sculpture. In recent decades, Whitten's work has risen off the canvas, the surfaces built up with tiles and molded forms--both made from poured acrylic. Though his approach and process are very different, Scott Wolniak, who has an exhibition opening at Lynden later this month, is another artist whose close attention to materials and studio process has led him to create three-dimensional wall-based works. Landscape Record surveys recent plaster tablets and works on paper, including a large drawing of one of Lynden's elms commissioned for the show.

October begins with a writing workshop led by Milwaukee's poet laureate, Matt Cook. His title, Why Defend the Kingdom of Dullness?, comes by way of poet Kenneth Koch, and Cook promises that it won't be dull. On the same day, artists-in-residence Pat Hidson and Tori Tasch invite you to join them as they collect and bag seeds from our prairies. You can return later in the month to learn about environmentally friendly landscape practices--and perhaps more about those prairies-- from our new land manager, Andy Yencha. Pegi Christiansen brings her residency to a close with Distance, a performance with accompanying written and visual materials produced by Christiansen and her far-flung collaborators: Theresa Columbus (Baltimore, MD), Jennifer Holmes (Whittier, CA), and John Loscuito (Naples, FL). Originally inspired by the birth of her grandson in California, Christiansen has been exploring distance over the course of a year.

Teachers and their families are invited to enjoy an educators' free day at Lynden on October 18--we have plenty of activities planned, a kind of tasting menu of educational experiences that we provide for PK-12 groups. Sharon Morrisey of UW-Extension will be leading a fall tree walk that afternoon. Hoping for a food truck for this one, and we'll be providing a shuttle bus from the Park & Ride west of the Brown Deer exit of I-43.

We offer the full array of activities for children and families in October, including our final Story Time in the Garden and our first Homeschool Day of the season. Schools are closed several days this month, and we are providing School's Out Workshops on two themes: harvest and bones. Katheryn Corbin returns for another session of Primitive Raku, and invites adults, with or without clay experience, to join her.

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