*this edition of the Museum for Art in Wood’s residency blog is written by Adam John Manley, 2023 resident.
With the Echo Lake Collaboration complete, and the settling in phase well underway, the 6 residents partook in an important tradition in the WARP (formerly ITE) residency. We rented a van, and spent five days exploring local and regional makers, collectors, institutions and curators. The gang is exhausted from a whirlwind tour, but returned after this long weekend eager to make new work and inspired by all that we have seen. We started nearby, and slowly worked out way out over the course of about 5 days.
Part II: Baltimore and DC Area
Driving South from Philadelphia, The residents and our unnamed van headed straight for the The American Visionary Art Museum, in Baltimore. This is an amazing collection of what would commonly be called “outsider art” but generally consists of works of amazing ingenuity, complexity, an profound weirdness. We were stunned. It is a space filled with the kind of unbridled creativity and energy, that most artists can only dream of having. motorized automata, a collection of canes and waling sticks, huge dioramas made of toothpicks, and so so much more. I can not recommend this institution enough to anyone visiting Baltimore.
Next, we headed across town to visit Sarah Marriage at A Workshop of Our Own, a woodworking teaching and studio space specifically for women and gender non-conforming people. Sarah started this project back in 2016, and it has become such an important institution in our field, and I was really excited to finally see it in person.
Next up, on to the hotel in Bethesda.
The Fleur Bresler Collection
Fleur Bresler owns one of the most impressive collections of wood art and studio furniture I’ve ever seen… maybe the most impressive. The collection is huge, diverse, and comprehensive. It represents such a wide variety of our field and more work than we could really take in in our short visit. But, we did our best, and got the comprehensive tour from Fleur herself, Who had wonderful commentary and knowledge on all of the artists and their work.
the Glenstone Museum
This outdoor art center is otherworldly. It is located on a huge estate in Maryland, and works by the most notable names in recent art history. The land is breathtaking, and the architecture is sleek and modern, standing in stark and wonderful contrast with the lush acreage. The heat, however, was intense, we stuck primarily to the indoor spaces, and split up to view at our own pace.
Barbara Wolanin’s home and collection
we ended the second day of the trip with a wonderful dinner and tour of the collection at the home of Barbara Wolanin. Barbara and her late husband, Phil Brown, a renowned wood turner, built a substantial collection of turned and sculpted wood art and Barbara spent time with us explaining the collection before we all sat down to dinner. This was a great way to end a long day of art viewing. We may have been too exhausted and overstimulated to take many pictures, but we enjoyed the collection and the company, and left with some bowl blanks, left over from the massive collection amassed by Phil.
The Renwick Gallery
Day three started with us leaving Bethesda and heading to DC to meet with Mary Savig, Curator of Craft, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. Mary spent over an hour with us walking through the galleries, and explaining in depth the exhibition themes, the makers’ backgrounds, the individual works, and the history behind them. This was a highlight of our visit. The depth of the permanent collection is impressive, and the works on display, represented the height of contemporary craft in America. Downstairs, an exhibition of all indigenous contemporary makers was totally inspiring, with exquisite objects and poignant concepts. We also got to see the Judy Chernoff and Jeffrey Bernstein collection, which we got a bigger taste of later that evening (more on that later) but suffice to say, contained some of the more impressive examples of wooden turning and sculpture We’ve seen before. This Museum is kind of a treasure.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum
Next, we walked down the street to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
On the way, we passed some big white house. People seemed really into it, so we stopped and checked it out. It was pretty cool, I guess.
Judy Chernoff and Jeffrey Bernstein’s home and collection
Last, but absolutely not least, we ended our trip by driving out to the home of Judy Chernoff and Jeff Bernstein. As mentioned earlier, A portion of their collection now makes up a room in the Renwick Gallery, and once we entered their lovely home, it became clear that it was only a very small portion that we had seen in the Renwick. Their home is packed with works in wood, as well as some glass and an incredible collection of basketry. We got a thorough tour from Jeff, and then sat down for a meal with the two of them and had a wonderful time. It was such a pleasant way to end this whirlwind trip. good food, good company, and yeah, more great wood art. After dinner, guess what we did… we looked at more wood art!! then desert and coffee and we were on our way back to Philly with our heads and bellies full. These two were the Consummate hosts and one of the greatest parts of getting to see this collection, was that Jeff (it took some prodding at first on his part) let us handle the work. It really makes the objects come to life, and tells you so much more about he skill and attention to detail.
More soon… byeeeeeeee