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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Best $9 That I Ever Spent

Last week I went up to Katrina's new place in Menominee, Michigan, and on my way home I saw a billboard advertising Chihuly at the Paine Art Center in OshKosh.  The Paine Center was already on my list, and Dale Chihuly is a genius, so it's been on my mind every day since then.  Saturday I decided I'd have her meet me in OshKosh to get my car back from her and I'd have my excuse to see the collection.  Wayne and Cory were at WIIL RockFest at the Country Thunder grounds in Twin Lakes experiencing bands like Volbeat and All That Remains that I've never heard of.  Wayne was volunteering but Cory and his friends had to dish out $40 each to attend their event.  Mine was only $9 and was much quieter.

Katrina declined my offer to join me and headed back to Menominee. I toured the garden first, but I'll get to that later. I went in the front door, paid at the desk, and then a few steps farther and the Main Gallery was on the right.

Never mind the fact that I literally gasped out loud at the sight of the  glass.  It wasn't that big a deal, I'm not kidding you when I say that every person that entered the Gallery did the same thing.  I'm almost glad they didn't allow photography.  I felt like my eyes couldn't soak it up and make it stay in my head, but I close my eyes now and I can still see it.  The lighting was perfect, the glass was divine, words cannot describe it so go see it yourself if you can.  Best $9 I ever spent.  Seeing the Chihuly collection alone was worth that amount.  It's on loan from the Stroemple Collection, if you click the link you can get an idea, but photos really don't do it justice.  My favorite piece was "Silver over Navy Blue Putti Venetian with Spotted Raspberry Prunts".  Seriously, say that three times fast, right? This link shows a picture at the top of its page.

I also like the chandelier and accompanying pieces that surrounded it on the floor.  They had it set on reflective black and the lighting made it all glow. I found a link here but it's not displayed as nicely as they did in OshKosh.

They also had a number of his mixed media drawings exhibited.  Truthfully I was as enamored with the drawings as with the glass, and I'm not interested in paintings at all usually.  I like the glass because I like sculpture, but the way the glass holds the light is amazing.  One lady said, can you imagine what it takes to pack and ship these?

Well, I guess we should talk about the Paine Mansion and gardens, too.  Beautiful home that was completed in 1930 for Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine.  Paine was the owner of the Paine Lumber Company, and their original intention for the home was that it would be open to the public as an art museum and it was designed with that in mind.  The couple never actually lived in the home.  Mr. Paine died in 1947 and Mrs. Paine oversaw the remaining work for the home to be ready for the public in 1948.

I actually walked through the gardens before entering the home, and I'm glad I did it that way.  I was so bowled over by the Chihuly exhibit that I might not have appreciated the outdoor details as much.  Most of the stone is Kasota limestone from Minnesota.  My favorite aspect of the exterior was the chimneys.

It was such a beautiful building that even the rain gutters were made to be pretty!

Such a shame no one ever lived in the home, unlike the Biltmore it had a very homey feel to it, even with the extravagant details inside.  The entry to the Main Gallery had Verona marble columns in addition to iron gates and Macassar Ebony doors.  There was marble mixed with stone throughout, beautiful ceiling medallions, and the woodwork was unbelievable.  Master craftsmen from Paine Lumber hand carved the paneling in the Great Hall to look like folded linen.  All the woodwork in the home is unvarnished oak and walnut to let the beauty of the wood speak for itself. Some of the pieces of furniture even had animals carved around the edges, fitting for a Wisconsin home along the river.

In addition to the visiting exhibit, the permanent collection has some nice pieces that were mostly provided by the Paines.  There was quite a few sculptures by Helen Farnsworth Mears. She was an OshKosh native and studied art in Chicago, New York, Italy and Paris. Unfortunately she died at the age of 40 in 1916.

The gardens were much better than the ones I saw recently at The American Club in Kohler.  A bit dry though, we've had hardly any rain this August.

I'm still thinking about that glass.  I picked up the "Chihuly in the Hotshop" DVD on sale for $30 which won 2 emmys according to the cover.  Add that to my admission fee and I spent what Cory did for the RockFest but I can see my show more than once and loan it out to friends! I brought home the DVD, Cory brought home scabbed elbows from the mosh pit and he lost his glasses.

The DVD cover also mentions the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.  Has anybody been to visit?  It's going on my list!

For a glimpse of the Chihuly exhibit we saw for our anniversary at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis click here.


  1. Always thought OshKosh were jeans or dungarees like my kids wore, never knew there was a place called that. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  2. Oh I'm jealous! I've seen Chuhuly's exhibits in Columbus, Ohio and in Seattle, WA., but might have to plan a trip up to Michigan... that place looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing!