Director's Note 6/1/17

June 1, 2017

This month I’m going to put aside the view outside my window to talk about other places, other things. Sculpture Milwaukee, Steve Marcus’s dream of an art walk on Wisconsin Avenue, opens to the public on May 31 from 11:45 am to 1 pm (with free lunch for the first 750 guests; the ribbon cutting is in front of Chase Tower). The connections between that linear accumulation of sculpture along Milwaukee’s main drag, from 6th Street to O’Donnell Park, and Lynden’s collection were reinforced on Monday when John Henry, who had just finished installing Zach’s Tower on 5th Street, stopped in at Lynden to visit Pin Oak I, another bright yellow sculpture. Pin Oak entered Mrs. Bradley’s collection in the late ‘70s. Henry recalled the installation (he had also brought along Mark di Suvero’s Lover), with Mrs. Bradley leaping into her golf cart and motoring over from the porch—where she was observing the proceedings--to get the crew to re-aim the crane by a foot or so. There are other overlaps between what’s downtown and what’s up here: Deborah Butterfield’s Big Piney is at 500 E. Wisconsin Ave., and two former Nohl Fellows, Jason Yi and Paul Druecke, anchor either end of the walk. So choose a sunny day, grab a picnic, and walk from one end of Sculpture Milwaukee to the other and then head up to Lynden for a day-long moveable sculpture feast.

On a more somber note, we have the NEA to worry about again. Or, more to the point, we have the future of arts and culture in this country to consider. As the American Alliance of Museums has pointed out, the president’s FY 2018 budget proposal eliminates “several key agencies that support museums, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The $4.1 trillion spending plan—which will now be considered by Congress—allocates a minimal amount of funding to begin the process of closing these agencies.”

Lynden does not receive money directly from the NEA, but we do receive funds indirectly through the Wisconsin Arts Board. However, this goes way beyond cash: the entire cultural landscape of greater Milwaukee is shaped by NEA funding. If that funding goes away, our partners go away, the agencies that support artists and arts organizations are in jeopardy, and the physical environment itself changes (think about the Our Town grants, or the NEA’s role in ArtPlace). Thirty-five organizations in Milwaukee will receive funds from the Milwaukee Arts Board this year; others here and around the state will receive money from the Wisconsin Arts Board. The NEA awarded $190,000 to ten Wisconsin arts organizations (six of them in Milwaukee) last fall, but they also awarded funds to an array of national organizations who are using it to do interesting things in places like Milwaukee, or to benefit artists in this area. The ripple effect is enormous.

The AAM has an excellent guide to speaking up—to Congress, in your community. Americans for the Arts has an Arts Mobilization Center here that helps you formulate your case for the arts, and their Action Fund has a customizable message to US Representatives and Senators. There is, of course, a hashtag: #SAVEtheNEA. Take a minute to think about how the NEA, the IMLS, and the NEH impact your life and the lives of your friends and family members. Whether you make the education argument or the therapeutic argument, whether you make the case for the economic impact of the arts, whether you can’t imagine what your world would be like without art and artists—please make your voice heard.

June begins with a frenzy of activity and is punctuated by pile-ups of programming throughout. In the first several days we offer everything from an herbal tea walk with herbalist Kyle Denton (June 3), to our first docent-led tour of the summer (June 4), to the beginning of both yoga (June 4) and tai chi (June 11) in the garden. Our annual writing workshop, a collaboration with Woodland Pattern, features Jennifer Scappettone (June 6-9 with a public reading June 9). We celebrate Bela Roongta’s new book and her love of henna (come get your hands decorated) on June 4, and Bob Eisen and Neil Goldberg perform on the afternoon of June 11. There is plenty of bonsai activity, with the opening of the bonsai exhibit on June 18, and three related workshops: kusamono (June 10), and bonsai for parents and children and bonsai for young people, both on June 24. Danceworks Performance Company and Milwaukee Opera Theatre return to Lynden to perform Handel’s Bestiary on June 16 and 17 (these shows sell out—get your tickets from Danceworks now), and artist-in-residence Katheryn Corbin slips in a quiet ceramics workshop on June 18.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the sun on June 21: current Nohl Fellow Joseph Mougel begins digging a hole at 5:12 am and finishes up at 8:34 pm; artist-in-residence Gary John Gresl launches his new book, Palimpsests & Middens: A Midwest Assembler, created with Rosie Hartmann, and unveils his residency project, a body farm for his sculpture; and artist-in-residence Sara Caron will be on hand—as she is each Wednesday evening in June—to lead a hike on her trail and staff her pop-up gift shop and information center. Tuesdays in the Garden meets twice (June 6 and 13), there’s a toad-related family workshop on June 11, and dogs are welcome on June 17.

Summer camps start up in two weeks, and there are spaces left here and there, particularly at either end of the summer. This is your last chance to see Cecelia Condit’s two-channel video installation, Tales of a Future Past (it ends June 25). The exhibition honoring the 2016 Nohl Fellows opens at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University on June 7 with a reception from 6 to 8 pm.

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