Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Inspiration at the Racine Art Museum

A morning exploring the Racine Art Museum

Racine Art Museum located footsteps away from Lake Michigan in Racine, Wisconsin holds a truly impressive amount of art. We capitalized on a recent gray day to explore the museum. Since this was our second visit, we were quite surprised by how many different pieces from the museum's collections were on display. The museum was entirely transformed and ready to inspire us! We were fortunate to visit during the holiday season, so did enjoy the treat of viewing the tree!


Christmas tree at the Racine Art Museum display hand blown glass ornaments collected over decades.
Impressive collection of hand blown glass ornaments from over many decades.
RAM's tree is a special piece of Racine history decorated with handcrafted blown glass ornaments collected over many years by late gallerist and arts supporter Emile H. Mathis II. Mathis displayed the ornaments on a tree in his gallery and sold ornaments as well. The tree at RAM focuses on ornaments from the 1940's-1950's to today.

Gorgeous hand blown glass ornaments from and extensive collection at the Racine Art Museum
So many glass ornaments that it is difficult to choose a favorite!

Hot air balloon glass ornament and more at Racine Art Museum
Truly a glass ornament for everything including a balloon!
The first gallery was home to quite a few vessels including some visitor favorite teapots from the RAM's collection of 250. My favorite -- the Pileated Woodpecker. Stunning!

Pileated Woodpecker teapot at Racine Art Museum
Aren't the babies adorable?

We also loved the hurricane teapot. Wouldn't want to get swept up in this storm!

Hurricane teapot at Racine Art Museum
Swept up in a hurricane teapot!

We enjoyed viewing the vases. My husband, daughter and I had incredibly different opinions on which were our favorites. Viewing an art museum with others really can open up your mind when you discuss what appeals to you and why. There truly are many ways to looking at everything! 

Soothing blue vase at the Racine Art Museum
Interesting shapes on this vase yet the blues soothe.
I am a big fan of glass especially when it catches the light on a gray day! Loved the brilliance of the blue in these pieces:

Dazzling blue glass vases catching the light at the Racine Art Museum
Dazzling blue glass vases catch the light 
Some of our favorite pieces were scenes by Racine native Robert Burkert. Robert experimented with various media and methods including graphite, water colors, silver point, lithographs, oil paintings and more. The piece below reminds me of the bottom of the ocean near the shore. Beautiful.


This particular exhibit is open until February 4, 2018. There is a guide that you can pick up when you enter that explains the artist's methods in more detail. Burkert's play of light and colors are just amazing:



During our visit, we explored an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of the RAM's parent museum, the Charles A. Wustrum Museum of Fine Arts. The pieces were chosen to show the expansion of the collection as well as tell a story beyond the art itself. Immediately when we entered the gallery, we noticed a Chihuly. This is such a fabulous example that museums of all sizes are home to incredible treasures. You never know what you will find while exploring!

Dale Chihuly glass art at the Racine Art Museum
Dale Chihuly glass art
Some of the pieces are truly extraordinary like this briefcase that is actually a porcelain piece. I really marveled at this one because it looks so real!

Incredibly real looking briefcase made of porcelain at the Racine Art Museum
This briefcase made of porcelain looks ready for work!
Another cool piece  we encountered -- a large scale sculpture made from fiber! Originally damaged by sunlight at its original location in a manufacturing plant, part of the story of this piece includes its restoration. Artwork tells many stories!


Another favorite was an asymmetrical hodge podge basket. I am so used to seeing "perfect" baskets that the uniqueness of this basket is pleasing to the eye.


During our visit, RAM displayed ornaments from a community contest. Throughout the year, RAM invites the community to participate in art projects. I think it is a fabulous way to bring art to the people. Merely viewing art in a museum still keeps art at a distance. Having participatory elements provides a way to engage more senses and explore your creativity.


How can you not love the armchair ornament created by one community member? So fun!

Ornaments from RAM's community contest including an armchair ornament
Ornaments from RAM's community contest.

The RAM does seem to change its exhibitions quite regularly. So, there will always be something new during each visit! The museum features quite a few American artists including local artists and artists from the region. The gift shop is also a treasure and does include made in USA artwork and other items made in the USA. Racine is also home to several art galleries. My favorite, Northern Lights Gallery, is right up the street from the museum. While in the area, also visit Mocha Lisa for a coffee and more art! So, a visit can easily become quite a day of art exploration. Gray days can be tough, but art really puts the sunlight and inspiration in!

**Disclosure: Thank you to Real Racine for accommodating our visit to the RAM. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Racine Art Museum Treasure Trove of Inspiration in Wisconsin



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