Director's Note 7/1/15

July 1, 2015

I have recently finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain and several articles and interviews by Susan Manning devoted to Reggie Wilson and his work in the February issue of TDR (a journal of performance studies). I am preparing for Movement and Migration, an expansive summer project that brings Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group to Lynden for a two-week residency and a performance of a site-specific iteration of his piece Moses(es) on July 18.

The theme of this summer's collaboration with Alverno Presents resonates with Wilson's abiding interest in the cultures of Africans in the Americas and the effect that migration has on beliefs. At Lynden, these themes can be tied to the movement of creatures across the landscape and to natural cycles, as well as to the movement of sculptures from around the world to their current home in our collection (where, it could be argued, their meaning as a collectivity supersedes their individual significance). They also enable us to consider the circulation of culture around and across the black Atlantic, Milwaukee's migration history, the Exodus story, and the movement of bodies across Lynden's grounds.

Among the bodies that will be traversing the grounds in the coming weeks are the children in our Movement and Migration Camp; students and recent graduates from the UWM Department of Dance and from Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, and members of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging's Jazzy Jewels dance troupe. All of them will be working with Wilson and his company members to become part of Moses(es). "Movement and Migration" is also the theme of our UWM Summer Teacher Institute which begins next week and includes a workshop with Wilson as well as hands-on work with artists Nirmal Raja and Santiago Cucullu. The UWM Dance graduate students will come out for a master class with Wilson, and rehearsals will be running morning and night for two weeks as we prepare for the performance.

As is our wont, we are constructing other entrances into the project, the performance, and the sculpture garden. We open our gates for a Free Family Day (evening) on July 15--a call-and-response picnic with performances by the Skai Academy Band and Ton Ko-Thi--a welcome for those who have not yet visited Lynden. We have transportation subsidies available for community groups who would like to organize a bus; give us a call and we'll work out the details. Capacity is limited, and we are operating a reservations system, so be sure to contact us in advance. We think of our current exhibition, Dan Torop: Frozen Period as another examination of movement across Lynden's grounds; be sure to stop in the gallery to see these photographs and to pick up a copy of the catalogue. And just as Torop's exhibition remains on view into September, we are going to organize a discussion, under the auspices of the Women's Speaker Series, of Hurston's novel and related subjects in the weeks after the performance. In the interim, we invite you to start reading Hurston's "retelling of the Moses story in the language of Southern black folklore" (Susan Manning)--our friends at Boswell can order it for you very quickly. We are especially grateful to the Herzfeld Foundation for their support of Movement and Migration.

My reading, of course, has been a pastime of the darker hours. During the day I watch campers travel up and down Paul Druecke's Garden Path in company with Jeremy, Naomi, Jenna and Tasneem (our new MPS Arts Partnership Intern). I can also keep an eye on the reinstallation of Emilie Clark's Research Station on its new bluestone pad. Nick Matthes has installed a solar system so powerful that we are thinking about using it to run our tractor. Patrick has the formal garden back in shape -- I can tell because there are often flowers in my office -- and Jenny and Nick are busy washing and waxing sculpture. Sergio, less visible, is steadfastly fixing things: the lawn mower, the tractor, the heat pumps--clearing the decks for the larger sculpture conservation projects of the summer. On the evenings when I lock up, I get to say goodbye to the turkeys who have taken to occupying the patio in the twilight.

A quick reminder that we are closed on Saturday, July 4 but open again on Sunday. The following week we make the switch from Sunday tai chi to Saturday yoga; on the 11th you could pack a post-yoga picnic and enjoy the gardens until artist-in-residence Eddee Daniel leads his tour of the grounds at 2 pm. Leslie Perrino returns for an enameling workshop, and we'll be back out watching the stars with Rob Powell during our Midsummer Saturnalia. We have the usual array of activities for small children, a patio tour, and--when the dancers have departed--a day for dogs. But any day is a good day for a visit, and we've now added an array of interpretive hiking, tree and bird guides to our check-out watercolor boxes and discover kits.


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