Director's Note 5/1/15

May 1, 2015

More than once over the past week I've found myself in Lynden's kitchen, warming my hands over the pilot lights of the catering stove, or testing the temperature of the new hand dryers Sergio and Patrick are installing to liberate us from the waste of paper towels. Most conversations contain obligatory references to mood and weather: we are at that time of year when we expect sunshine and warmth, and feel preternaturally defeated when we wake to gloom and cold. The flora and fauna are less daunted. Daffodils are blooming along the fence and in the ravine, willows at a distance appear covered in a pale green haze, there's a hint of pink around the fruit trees. Nests are filling with eggs, and an egret stopped in for a visit earlier this past week. Weston Wagner, our junior grounds manager, has been providing reports from the nesting frontlines since March, and you can read them, and see the pictures, here.

More difficult than the weather was saying goodbye to Bob Retko, our Senior Grounds Manager, on Saturday. Bob has worked at Lynden since 1966, which means he's been here longer than most of the sculptures. He came up under the legendary Karl Urban, who was hired by the Bradleys to oversee the landscaping not long after they purchased Lynden, and Bob worked for Mrs. Bradley for a dozen years before her death in 1978. We have all been encouraging Bob to share his stories over the past few weeks (many of which might earn him a place on the stand-up comedy circuit), as well as the very deep knowledge he has of the land and the structures on it. Though we all feel that we are losing a direct connection to the past, it was Bob's willingness to look forward that I most appreciated. Though he always acknowledged learning a lot from Karl Urban, he never ceased to learn about ways to care for Lynden's acres. Driven by his own curiosity and a commitment to environmental sustainability, Bob transformed himself from a grounds manager to a land steward under his own steam and through his own studies. We are grateful for all he did at Lynden, and particularly for the mentoring he has provided for Weston for the past four years. We hope to see him often at Lynden.

Who knows? Now that Bob is retiring he may finally have time to take a workshop or drop in for one of our special events. Top of the list for May is our 5th Anniversary celebration on May 30. We'll be making and flying kites, planting a butterfly garden, enjoying a patio display from the Milwaukee Bonsai Society and partaking in various walks and hands-on activities. We'll move, at least temporarily and at an oblique angle, into the world of museum merchandise under the guidance of artist Sara Caron. She is planning to pop up a shop (in Brian Nigus's Sightseer, of course) that will offer some fairly conventional items--a long overdue Lynden T-shirt, Sarah Luther's beautiful note cards depicting Lynden across four seasons--alongside more far-flung imaginings of what might be useful at a sculpture garden. Pat Hidson and Tori Tasch will be launching their residency with a participatory activity, and current resident Eddee Daniel will be photographing the proceedings.

We have a number of cross-generational workshops in May--Parent and Child Bonsai with the Milwaukee Bonsai Society, a Mother's Day Silk Scarf workshop with Leslie Perrino, a Miniature Sculpture drop-in family workshop--as well as a porcelain bowl workshop with Linda Wervey Vitamvas. Our school-year activities for kids are winding down as we head into summer camp season. This is the last month for our Wednesday Art Drop-In and for Homeschool Days (though the school-free very small children in Tuesdays in the Garden can now look forward to two outings a month). Our new, extended summer hours begin on May 20, bringing back late Wednesdays and introducing longer weekend hours. If you missed Robin Jebavy's tour this past weekend, you still have until the end of May to see her exhibition in the gallery. And just because it comes up right at the beginning of June, I'd like to mention our annual writing workshop co-hosted with Woodland Pattern: this year we welcome Andrew Schelling for Medicine Play: A Workshop on Poetry, Voice, Performance.


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