Moderator: Anne Pryor
Panelists Rich Gabe, Ronald Harvey, Hannah Blunt, Gary LaFleur, Dennis Sipiorski
Kohler Foundation, Inc. Preservation Specialists Dan Smith and Susan Kelly were available for questions.
Long-term preservation of artist-built environments requires multiple layers of effort to educate, build awareness, and develop allies in the community and beyond. While less technically demanding than the science of art conservation, this side of preservation requires tremendous skill and care. This panel explored key elements that need to be in place for the community side of preservation to be successful. Discussion allowed for a creative exchange of ideas.
Anne Pryor is a folklorist residing in Madison, WI. She served as a folk arts specialist at the Wisconsin Arts Board since 1995 and as the state folklorist until 2016. She is cofounder of Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture, which leads cultural tours of Wisconsin for K-12 teachers. She holds a PhD in cultural anthropology and folklore from the University of Wisconsin. Publications include articles on the Dickeyville Grotto, vernacular Catholicism, folk arts education, and cultural art forms such as quilting, Hmong blacksmithing, and Iroquois raised beadwork. Her seasonal passions are curling in winter and gardening in summer.
Rich Gabe has been fascinated/obsessed with art environments ever since touring the Watts Tower in 2009. In 2014, he graduated with a master’s degree in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University. His graduate thesis studied the intersection between art environments and tourism, researching theme routes such as Wandering Wisconsin. While in school, he interned at SPACES Archives, helping prepare an online toolbox detailing business-related challenges and solutions for art environments seeking help. In 2015, he started thelandbehind.com, a seldom-updated, irreverent, art-environment travel blog. When not blogging (which is often), he plans trips and then travels around America’s backwoods visiting and documenting art environments, unusual museums, and other idiosyncratic and fascinating places.
Ronald S. Harvey received a BA in art from Monmouth College and an MFA in art (sculpture) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, followed by a formal apprenticeship in conservation at the Milwaukee Public Museum. He served one year as assistant conservator (faculty-officer status) at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, then returned as assistant and then senior conservator at the Milwaukee Public Museum. He relocated to Maine in 1990 and opened a private conservation practice. Tuckerbrook Conservation LLC serves the conservation needs for both private and public collections throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Ethiopia.
Hannah Blunt is the associate curator at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. She holds an MA in art history from Boston University and a BA from Davidson College. She previously served as Langlais Curator for Special Projects at the Colby College Museum of Art, where she presented a major retrospective on environment-builder Bernard Langlais and was the lead author of the first scholarly monograph on the artist. She and her partner Robin Mandel—an artist and Wisconsin native—lived in the Langlais home in Cushing, ME, from 2010 to 2012.
Dr. Gary LaFleur was born in rural Eunice, LA. He has been teaching and conducting research in environmental biology at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA, since 1998. He is the executive director of the new Center for Bayou Studies, and serves as the president of the Friends of the Chauvin Sculpture Garden.
Dennis Sipiorski is an educator and artist who lives and works in Louisiana. Although he mainly works in clay, other media included in his work are metal, watercolors, oil, and photography. Sipiorski not only shows his appreciation for the southern landscape through his work, he also shares this notion with his students at Southeastern University in Hammond, LA. He exhibits and lectures nationally. He serves on the board of the Louisiana Crafts Council, Chauvin Folk Art Center, and the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. Originally from the upper Midwest, he has received two degrees in education from the University of Wisconsin and his MFA in ceramics from the University of Notre Dame.