Friday, July 28, 2017


I doubt I would ever have heard of the Paine Art Center and Gardens if it hadn't been for our fortuity in meeting out furniture manufacturer, Terry Sweeney.
Terry's shop is located in Omro, a hop, skip and a jump away from Oshkosh and the Paine Center.
Every time I'm needed to drive up to Omro to look at a new piece of furniture I try to stop at the Paine as well. It's a small museum bequeathed to the Oshkosh community by the Paine's, a family combining the fortunes of the Paine lumber conglomerate with the paper milling family of Kimberly-Clark fame. Nathan and Jessie began building this Tudor Revival country estate in 1927 but the onset of the Depression halted all construction by 1932.
It wasn't until 1946 that the Paine's were able to finalize legal plans to grant the estate to the city as a museum and cultural center. The Paine's, who never spent one day as residents of the estate,  but are now its most famous residents in spirit at least.
On Saturday my sister and I did the drive up to Omro to look at some new pieces of furniture at Terry's Black Wolf Design studio and then it was off to the Paine to see Kirsty Mitchell's photo exhibit, Wonderland.
This is Kirsty Mitchell's first American side exhibition of her work. Kristy is a British photographer who began her career as a fashion designer.  This combination of the camera and fashion produced a fairyland of creativity.
The Wonderland project began as a tribute to her mother, a way of grieving and sanctifying the remembrance of her mother who died way too early from a brain tumor. Her mother had been a schoolteacher and it was those memories of being read to snuggled up in front a fire that inspired the extraordinary characters and imagined forests that inhabit Wonderland. You can feel the immense emotions at play in this photo essay that skips from grief to exuberance.
The scale of the work on exhibit is so large you get the sensation that you could literally walk right into the photo and experience the feel of the shade of the tree canopies and the smell of the floral bouquets.
The costuming and propping in each photo is so filled with imagery and detail that nothing is left behind without having been thoroughly attended to right down to the character's eyelashes.
It's no wonder that several of the photos consumed almost six months of preparation prior to being shot.
If you find yourself anywhere near Oshkosh between now and October fifteenth when the exhibit closes take the time to walk through Wonderland and if you happen to have a spare $7000 please pick up one of the large-scale prints for me. My shipping address will be provided upon request

The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith, photographers
Under the copyright of the Science & Society Picture Library, England

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