Bringing art into the environment
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DELAVAN How do you share art with the community when space is at a premium?
You create a "mobile" museum.
That's what Elizabeth Chappell did when she established the Lake Geneva Art Museum in 2009.
That same year Chappell, who has taught art to both students and adults, documented some 40 pieces of artwork donated over the last 30 years to the city of Lake Geneva, where they hung from the upper mezzanine at city hall. She became the first volunteer curator of the collection, but as the walls there filled up, Chappell began to wonder.
"Where would someone donate artwork now? The city is not in the business of art, so it would be helpful to have some institution in our area that (did)," she said. "And the mobile art museum was just born."
She got the word out, started with a handful of board members, and acquired what has become a fairly sizable permanent collection. The work of about five area artists is featured in the collection, including Richard Salter and Edd Ghent.
Some pieces from the collection can be found at local businesses. For instance, "Sherds," a work by Salter--a Big Foot High School graduate who retired to Florida--hangs at The Bootery, 771 W. Main St. in Lake Geneva.
Chappell said thanks to the support of local businesses and organizations, the museum has been able to make local art more accessible to the community.
Membership to the museum is not an option at this time, but may be considered in the future, Chappell said.
Lake Geneva does have another organization focused on art in the Geneva Lakes Art Association. But that group, which offers classes and programs, is more of an artists' guild, Chappell said. The GLAA has a gallery, but limits its displays to its members' art. The Lake Geneva Art Museum's focus is on local artists, too, but its range is broader.
When noted violinist Rachel Barton Pine played as a guest artist with the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra in Elkhorn in 2010, the museum displayed artwork in the entryway of Elkhorn High School.
Last September, during Lake Geneva's Walk to End Alzheimer's, the museum set up a touching interactive display featuring chalk boards and the words, "I remember," with a line allowing people to finish the sentence by writing in their own thoughts, like "grandma's laugh" or "dad's smiley face."
"We set up four boards with 19 (blank) lines on each one, and I remember they were filled up," Chappell said. "People were brought to tears reading them. They were blown away by it."
Chappell said the museum's goal is to take art out of the box, allowing it to become part of the environment.
The museum's current display is a hands-on, outdoor project on the grounds of Delavan's Lake Lawn Resort, located at 2400 E. Geneva St. Famed snowmaker Dieter Sturm and artist Dennis Dahl have created towering ice sculptures, shaped by spraying on water, adding color and embedding lights within them.
Chappell said work on the sculpture will continue all winter long. Weather cooperating, the display should continue through spring.
The Lake Geneva Art Museum will be part of Winterfest at Lake Lawn, and it is also planning a show there, tentatively set for Sat., Feb. 9, where people can meet the artists and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers.
The museum also wants to do projects each season, and Chappell said they will be part of the Walk to End Alzheimer's again this year.
She encourages people to monitor the Lake Geneva Art Museum's Facebook page for announcements on upcoming events.