Director's Note 9/1/17

September 1, 2017

The chickens just drove off to rejoin the flock at Pampered Produce. Pam Percy and Marty Hintz entrust us with eggs each summer for the campers to raise into chickens, and I only hope that this trio adapts to a life in which children no longer line up to handfeed them bugs they’ve unearthed in the garden. The occasional yellow leaf floats by my window: I see only the trunk of the massive elm outside my office, its vase-shaped canopy invisible behind the house’s overhang, but it is definitely preparing for winter. Its cousin, down by the shore of Big Lake, is already fading from the top down. It has been colder—always a shock--though the descent isn’t unilateral. We’re expecting warm weather this weekend and will be open as usual on Labor Day.

It was a busy August. The smell of warm paraffin is still in my nostrils, a reminder of Arianne King Comer’s residency. Her visit began with a marathon free family day—almost 500 people passed through the gates to try out different forms of wax resist dyeing with Arianne. At different moments, the lawn by the patio was filled with blue textiles—Arianne brought her indigo—drying in the sun. That day ended with SistaStrings performing on the porch of Eliza’s Cabinet. Once again, the audience braved the heat and mosquitoes, this time to listen to Monique and Chauntee Ross. Their music was punctuated by the sisters’ stories about their childhood in Milwaukee: playing in church, learning about Black history from their parents. As with Arsene DeLay, when they played the old songs on the porch, the songs of the civil rights era, audience members joined in.

In the days that followed, Arianne opened her makeshift studio in the front porch and welcomed a steady stream of visitors, sharing her knowledge of indigo and her beautiful collection of wooden stamps, listening to the stories people shared. We are looking forward to bringing Arianne back next summer for a longer residency—another ancestral call in cloth--and an exhibition (she’s already making batik paintings of her time at Lynden). Several of those attending Benjamin Seabrook’s performance on the porch a week or so later proudly wore garments—hats, pants, skirts--they had dyed with Arianne. Using only his wonderful bass-baritone voice, Seabrook shared a series of songs and vignettes with a rapt audience, illuminating the Gullah-Geechee culture he shares with artist-in-residence Portia Cobb.

It seems that each year, no sooner have we packed up the last folding table from our backyard barbecue then we plunge into preparations for the launch of the next Nohl Fellowship cycle. We’ve been revising applications and guidelines, updating the website, and scheduling workshops ahead of Tuesday’s release. Supporting artists is one of Lynden’s three main areas of focus (place-based education and convening around sculpture and public art are the other two), and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists program, which puts a total of $70,000 into the hands of five local artists each year, is a pillar of that support. If you are an artist, or a friend of an artist, check out the Nohl web site and start getting your work samples in order.

Of course, things don’t slow down at Lynden during the Nohl application process, as the list at the top of this newsletter suggests. Just a few reminders: the two weekly Art Drop-ins resume in mid-September; homeschool days begin on September 28; we’ll have quite a few writers at Lynden this month; and we join Doors Open Milwaukee for the first time (we’ll participate on September 24). It’s not too late for an early evening picnic at Lynden: we stay open until 7:30 pm on Wednesdays until the end of September. And while you’re here you’ll want to explore Katy Cowan’s Inside/Outside exhibition, and the bonsai pavilion, both of which will wind down next month.

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