As we prepare Following Esherick for its opening day on May 7th, let’s look back on the past two years of hard work and dedication it took our staff, exhibiting artists, and partners to make it happen!
With all of the excitement around this exhibit, you may have found yourself wondering who exactly Wharton Esherick is anyway, and why his artwork is so widely appreciated. Here’s some background: Wharton Esherick is widely regarded as the grandfather of the American Studio Furniture movement for his groundbreaking sculptural furniture, and as one of the foundational figures of contemporary craft and design. Beyond woodworking, he experimented with printmaking, casting, and stone carving. His fiercely individual approach to art making, as well as his highly original fusion of form with function, has inspired many significant artists and designers, both national and international.
In July 2019, GoggleWorks Executive Director Levi Landis and Artistic Director Tim Compton visited the Wharton Esherick Museum (WEM) to collaborate with Director, Julie Siglin, in the beginning stages of dreaming up Following Esherick, to be exhibited in May 2020.
Then came the 2020 pivot. In early 2020, we had to make a hard decision to alter our original timeline for Following Esherick due to Covid. Like so many other plans, the exhibition we had spent almost a whole year planning was put on hold until May of 2021.
Several GoggleWorks staff members took a trip to Wharton Esherick Museum in March, in preparation for the exhibition, which would now take place in May.
Here’s what they had to say about their visit:
“The Wharton Esherick Museum is unlike any that I’ve visited before. Esherick was a completely unique and innovative woodworker and my personal favorite. The museum is his former studio, and not only is it filled with incredible sculpture and furniture, but it was designed by the artist himself. Every aspect of his home and studio reflect the same careful consideration he used in designing his artwork.” –Luke, Wood Studio Technician
“The Wharton Esherick Museum is unlike any home I have ever seen, and just when I think I have seen it all, I am surprised on my next visit to the space. He thought, lived, and played as an artist, without boundaries, without fear, and with great curiosity. I am so excited to finally bring his works to GoggleWorks and share his lifestyle of creative thinking with our visitors. It’s going to be such an interesting show.” –Tim, Artistic Director
“The whole building is a work of art, let alone the individual pieces, and it was such a treat to be in this space I’ve only previously experienced through photos.” –Kristen, Gallery Coordinator
Luke, Tim and Kristen were understandably enamored with the WEM. By now, we were getting more and more excited to bring this experience to the galleries at GoggleWorks to share with you!
Later in March, Luke gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how he hand-constructed the repurposed-wood crates that would transport the works from WEM to GoggleWorks.
Luke shared, “It’s a tremendous honor to have an opportunity to work with the museum and the GoggleWorks staff in assisting with the transport and installation of these incredible, imaginative artworks!”
Then, in April, we announced the addition of two brand new Art Explorer Tour Make’n’Take add-on activities!
You can now add a Wood Carved Coat Hanger making experience to learn the steps to sculpting and carving a one-of-a-kind artwork using inspiration from the unique shapes and textures in Esherick’s works. Once completed, your creation of form and function can be installed and displayed at home for all to see and use.
Or you can opt for a Stamp Printed Poster experience, where you’ll get to try your hand at the printing process with works from Following Esherick in mind. Using pre-carved stamps, you will collage, ink, and print your masterpiece of a poster to take home and display proudly.
Whatever you choose, these activities are sure to enhance your experience when you come see the breathtaking exhibition. Make sure you book an Art Explorer Tour to take advantage of these awesome activities for an even more immersive experience and a totally unique souvenir to take home!
Towards the end of April, the weather treated us with a bright and sunny day for a stop at the WEM to pick up the works for the exhibition, now opening in only a few short weeks!
We are so excited to finally see this show become a reality! Tim Compton shared, “We have talked about and planned this show for two years, thanks to the pandemic. Every trip to the Wharton Esherick Museum is amazing, but to be able to bring works back for the show is something special.”
In the past week or so, Tim and Kristen have been coordinating the installation of WEM works as well as the delivery and installation of works by the six internationally acclaimed artists whose work will be presented alongside Esherick’s. These artists include Jasper Brinton, Michael Brolly, Amy Forsyth, Ray Kelso, Jack Larimore and Michael Puryear.
All of the perseverance and tenacity the staff and all of those involved in the exhibit have shown in the last two years will finally pay off with an incredible curation of artworks to share with you and to inspire all of our amazing visitors. We hope that this show and the many coinciding and enriching opportunities are the unique and transformative interaction with art that you’ve been looking for.
Book your Art Explorer Tour now to see Following Esherick and see for yourself what all the excitement is about!
Header Image: Wharton Esherick’s Studio
Photo by Charles Uniatowski, courtesy of the Wharton Esherick Museum.