by Jessica Miller, PortalWisconsin.org
The Paine Art Center in Oshkosh, considered one of "America's castles," opened to the public in 1948. The Tudor Revival-style building's construction began in 1927 as a summer home for Nathan Paine, of the Paine Lumber Company, and his wife, Jessie Kimberly, heiress of paper manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. The mansion was crafted with the finest imported and American woods. Rugs, porcelain, glass and silver from across Europe adorn nearly every room.
Upon first entering the mansion, visitors are drawn to the elegantly carved oak staircase, which frames the entrance to the breakfast room. The breakfast room is filled with plants, sculptures and an impressive view of the arboretum. A library contains books on history, literature, art and horticulture. The dining room houses a fine collection of English and American silver, and its mantel and columns were created with Vermont marble.
The upper gallery is located on the second level of the mansion, and is decorated with beautiful stained glass. The master bedroom is embellished with a chandelier and sumptuous fabrics.
But today, the Art Center is not a private retreat but a museum open to the public. One can view Nathan and Jessie Paine's art collection, including works by Rousseau, Millet, Diaz, Corot and Daubigny. The Paines favored works by American artists and from the Barbizon school of French painters.
While the interior of the Paine mansion was designed with superior taste, the Art Center also boasts a picturesque arboretum. The Paine's largest garden, the Pergola/Formal Garden, was modeled after the sunken Hampton Court garden in England. Visitors can enjoy a lengthy show of flowers in bloom in any of the Paine gardens.
Currently, the Paine Art Center and Gardens is featuring an exhibit on art quilts. These quilts combine tradition with artistic innovation. Art quilts from the Thirteen Moons Gallery of Santa Fe, New Mexico, are on display through September 15, 2003. The exhibit honors Mary Anhaltzer, an Oshkosh native and founder of Thirteen Moons. Anhaltzer died in 2001.
Anhaltzer had quilted since childhood. She extended her creative vision to fashion unique, contemporary quilts. The quilts represent far more than traditional bedclothes. The designs are an intermingling of textiles, sculpture, paint and photography. Mixed media quilts integrate wood, metal and collected objects as part of the overall composition.
Throughout her life, Anhaltzer's technique continued to develop along with her relationship to her work. She said, "There is a cycle to my process. Passionate spurts of creativity and output separated by what I call my hunting and gathering periods. These periods are also a time for processing what is happening in my life. Looking back at a quilt I made last year, I now find more hidden meaning in it. I love having these ongoing conversations with my work."
The Paine Art Center offers workshops, lectures and events in its gardens, and educational programs on its Main Gallery exhibits. For more information on upcoming exhibits and events, contact the Paine Art Center at 920-235-6903, or visit its Web site.