French Poster exhibition featured at the Woodson Art Museum

Alphonse Mucha, Zodiac, 1896, color lithograph on silk, photograph by John Faier, © 2015, courtesy of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum

 

Experience a flair for France this spring and be transported to late nineteenth-century Paris via an exhibition of colorful French posters, opening Saturday, March 7 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

“L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” showcases the work of five master printmakers – Jules Chéret, Alphonse Mucha, Eugène Grasset, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – from 1875 to 1910. In a brilliant fusion of craft and commerce, posters featuring these artists’ work peppered the walls and kiosks of Parisian neighborhoods and defined a new art form. Advertising products from cigarette papers to milk, French posters also immortalized stage stars and bohemian cabarets and won the adoration of passersby and art collectors.

Although ephemeral, these French posters sparked a passionate craze for collecting them called “affichomania” – whether acquired via special-edition purchases or stealthy pilfering from public spaces. The exhibition features varied depictions and styles, from caricatures of Montmartre’s nightlife to the sinuous lines and expressive subjects that characterize Art Nouveau. “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” was organized by The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

A concurrent, complimentary exhibition highlights exuberant children’s book illustrations by Melissa Sweet, created in her signature watercolor and found-object collage style. “Some Illustrator! Pictures by Melissa Sweet,” also opening March 7, includes her award-winning biographical work and is part of the Woodson Art Museum’s biennial focus on children’s book illustrations.

Both exhibitions, featuring French graphic arts and children’s book illustrations, open March 7 remain on view through May 31.

Illustrating Luminaries: Melissa Sweet Artist Residency, April 16-18

Sweet, based in Portland, Maine, is the author of four books and the illustrator of more than 100 and has received multiple awards, including two Caldecott Honors for “A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams” and “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus.” “Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White” was a “New York Times” best seller; received an Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, which recognizes books that demonstrate excellence as reviewed and awarded by the National Council of Teachers of English; and received a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor award. The title, “Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White,” riffs on White’s Charlotte’s Web and “Some Pig,” and also informs the title of the exhibition, “Some Illustrator! Pictures by Melissa Sweet,” organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

During Sweet’s visit to the Woodson Art Museum, April 16-18, she will share insights into her career and artwork via visiting with area students, teaching a studio workshop, and leading a public presentation and gallery walk.

• Sweet Talking: Guest Artist Presentation, Thursday, April 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Vividly illustrated and vigilantly researched, Melissa Sweet’s book “Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White” captures the life and legacy of beloved author E.B. White, combining family photos and letters with expressive original artworks. Learn about Melissa’s career and creative process through the lens of her carefully crafted ode to Elwyn Brooks White, followed by a book signing.

• Creative Collages: Teen & Adult Workshop, Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m.-Noon & 2-5 p.m. – Artist Melissa Sweet creates layers of meaning and rich visuals through mixed-media collage, pairing watercolor illustrations with found imagery, objects, and text. During the workshop, Melissa helps participants navigate the process of combining ideas with sources of inspiration to create intriguing original artwork. Total fee: $65 for members; $85 for non-members; includes materials and lunch. To register, call the Museum at 715-845-7010.

• Sweet Gallery Walk, Saturday, April 18, 1-2 p.m. – Enjoy dynamic illustrations and artistic accounts relayed by Melissa Sweet during a gallery walk through her exhibition “Some Illustrator!”

For program details, check the events calendar.

Programs Make Exhibition Connections

Throughout the spring, Museum programs for all ages will bring to life themes, artistic styles, and techniques from the exhibitions focused on French graphic arts, children’s book illustrations, and the Museum’s collection. In Art Park – the Museum’s interactive family gallery – all ages dabble in the design of bicycles, fashion, and graphic arts. Also, learn more about French posters and Melissa Sweet’s illustrations via the Museum’s free Activity Guides, designed for use by all ages, in the galleries and at home.

• During Art 101: French Poster Gallery Walk, on Wednesday, March 18, 12:15-1 p.m., enjoy art observation and conversation, imagining the sights and sounds of Paris, while strolling through the galleries with curator of education Catie Anderson.

• Art 101: IB Art & Artists, Thursday, April 2, 5:30-6:30 p.m., features Wausau East High School art department chair Joel Pataconi and this year’s International Baccalaureate Art Program students as they offer insights into students’ portfolio artwork on view at the Woodson in exh-IB-ition through May 10.

• Art 101: Springtime Gallery Stroll, Wednesday, April 15, 12:15-1 p.m., highlights Melissa Sweet’s fanciful yet thoroughly researched artwork in “Some Illustrator!” during a gallery walk with curator of education Lisa Hoffman.

• During Art 101: Art Nouveau – Organic, Ornamental & Overlooked, Thursday, May 7, 5:30-6:30 p.m., survey the origins of Art Nouveau with curator of education Catie Anderson. Learn about how the movement’s innovative ideas and iconic designs served as a short-lived but essential foundation for modernity in twentieth-century art.

• During Art 101: Springtime Surprise, Wednesday, May 20, 12:15-1 p.m. join curator of collections Jane Weinke as she shares insights into the perhaps surprising intricacies of organizing an exhibition, from choosing a theme to installing artworks in the gallery.

• Art 101: Springtime Surprise, Thursday, June 4, 5:30-6:30 p.m., features curator of collections Jane Weinke answering the following questions. With only a small percentage of artwork from the Museum’s collection on view in the galleries, where are the others? What long-term care is required? What is the role of the curator? Participate to learn perhaps surprising insights.

Additional Programs for All

• During Art Park Open Studio on the first Saturday of each month, 1-3 p.m., all ages drop in for hands-on art making inspired by artwork on view in the galleries.

• SPARK! programs for individuals with memory loss and an accompanying friend or family member on the second Thursday of each month, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, offer social interaction in the galleries, followed by a hands-on art activity; call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.

• During Toddler Tuesdays on the third Tuesday of each month, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, little ones, 18 months-4 years, and accompanying adults drop in to sample art making and interactive play in Art Park.

• Art Babies, Art Time for Tots, Art 4 You, and Art Kids programs are offered in late March, April, and May; check the online events calendar for details and call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.

• Art Beyond Sight, on Saturday, April 25, 10:30 a.m.-Noon, is designed for individuals with low vision and blindness. Participants join Museum educators for a multisensory visit to the galleries followed by hands-on art making inspired by both French graphic arts and children’s book illustrations. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register.

For specifics and registration details about these and other programs, check the online events calendar.

For more information, visit www.lywam.org, e-mail the Museum at info@lywam.org, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Acknowledgments

“L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” was organized by The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. “Some Illustrator! Pictures by Melissa Sweet” was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

UMR is the presenting sponsor of “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters.” Additional exhibition support comes from Alice W. and Joseph F. Smith, Jr. and from Jim and Sue Konkel. Educational support comes from the Bell Family Charitable Foundation and WoodTrust Bank. Additional educational support comes from Tim and Cari Logemann. Exhibitions and programs are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Marketing supported in part by City of Wausau Room Tax funds. Support for hands-on art-making supplies comes from the Walmart Foundation.

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