The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s new art gallery director and campus curator says she is excited to be part of a university that is committed to its students and the arts.
Leslie Walfish began duties in August. In a three-part role, she oversees operations of the Allen Priebe Gallery and Annex, serves as curator of the campus art collection and teaches a new course on museum studies as an instructor. The first gallery exhibit, displaying works from UW College faculty, runs through Oct. 4.
“I was really excited when I heard about the (gallery director/curator) post,” she said. “I know the school and faculty through the arts world. I know they are really committed to their students and they are interested in giving them the skills they need to be artists and many practical skills they need to succeed as an artist.”
A 10-member, student-comprised board decides the Priebe Gallery exhibit line-up for the year.
Walfish does not consider herself an artist, but she has a deep appreciation for the arts and all mediums. She enjoys the interpretation of art and learning about the influence to create the piece.
She said UW Oshkosh has a historic, interesting art collection, with about 400 in its personal collection and about 350 Works Progress Administration (known as WPA) pieces. WPA was created to help provide economic relief to the citizens of the U.S. who were suffering through the Great Depression. A Federal Art Project was one way to provide employment for artists on relief. The artwork now tells history of the Depression Era. The murals in Swart Hall are some good examples of WPA work on campus.
Early love of the arts
Walfish grew up in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., where she developed an early love for museums and galleries. She studied art history at James Madison University, receiving a bachelor’s in art and a master’s in art history at the University of Arizona and a master’s in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Walfish was the gallery and collections coordinator for seven years and acting director for one year at Lawrence University’s Wriston Art Center Galleries.
She was the gallery curator of the Edna Carlsten Gallery at UW-Stevens Point and the art curator of the Lawton Gallery and an instructor in arts management at UW-Green Bay, before coming to UW Oshkosh. She is married to John Mayrose, who teaches music theory and composition at UW Oshkosh.
Walfish has been busy taking inventory of campus art, working on ways to protect artwork around campus and developing a system for works to be on loan. In the past, the gallery director position was filled by faculty in the art department who took on reduced course load.
Walfish’s Intro to Museum Studies course has proven popular as a new offering at UW Oshkosh, with 19 registered before the start of school.
The course is being taken not only by art majors, but history and anthropology majors and others. It meets 3-6 p.m., one day per week.
“This is a hands-on class,” Walfish said. “Students will be learning how to handle art, hang it, add lighting and label it.”
Several field trips are planned to museums and art galleries in the area and to Chicago.
Under consideration, Walfish said, is whether museum studies could be an academic minor at UW Oshkosh.
In spring, she will be teaching a course on art history. She looks forward to the interaction with students.
“I’m excited to be here to get to be part of the UW Oshkosh community,” Walfish said.
Leslie’s DIY tips for hanging art
- With center height the same, a display looks purposeful. Walfish says 59 inches is the optimal height for most people’s view. Some galleries mount pieces at 55 inches, but her last employer had items hung at 58 inches.
- Use at least two screws or nails. A single nail means pictures slant every time someone slams a door or stomps on the floor.
- Putting labels on anything makes them seem more important.
- Hang “office art/pre-made art” if it fits the style and makes you happy. But visit art fairs, farmers’ markets, special events or storefronts and restaurants downtown, to get that one-of-a-kind piece. You may learn whose hands went into the creation of the work and that will make it more special.
Becket’s and Gardenia’s in Oshkosh are two places that sell artwork; UW Oshkosh student art may be available for purchase around the holidays when Walfish is planning a sale.
“It’s a great way to begin a collection of original art and get a collection started,” she said.
UW Oshkosh, Allen Priebe Gallery Schedule:
Sept. 12 – Oct. 4
UW College Faculty Exhibition
Art faculty from a number of the UW College schools is featured in this exhibit hosted at UW Oshkosh: Letha Kelsey, UW–Baraboo/Sauk County; Suzanne Truman, UW–Barrron County; Wendi Turchan, UW–Fond du Lac; Frank Zetzman and Judith Waller, UW–Fox Valley; Berel Lutsky, UW–Manitowoc; Tom Fleming and Diana Budde, UW–Marathon County; Lisa Wicka, UW–Marinette; Kitty Kingston, UW–Marshfield/Wood County; Gregory Johnson, UW–Richland; Michael Julian and Mark Dziewior, UW–Rock County; Tom Uebelherr, UW–Sheboygan; Pete Railand, Barb Reinhart, Jeff Noska, UW–Waukesha; Joshua Lesniak, UW–Washington County.
Oct. 11–Nov. 1
Painter Reginald Baylor uses the crisp lines, geometry and high-keyed colors to create artworks that are fundamentally about the American dream–what it was, what it’s become. His work has been described as expressive and personal, spatially complex and gutsy. They include ingenious cultural allusions, pop culture icons and stealthy references to art history.
Brittany Ransom is an artist and educator who serves as the assistant professor of sculpture and new genres at California State University Long Beach. As a member of the faculty of the College of the Arts, she works within the sculpture area and specializes in 3-D computerized production/ digital fabrication and physical computing /kinetics. In her work, Ransom strives to probe the lines between human, animal and environmental relations while exploring emergent technologies. She invites the viewer to question how technology can concurrently invent, destroy enshroud and expose itself within our shared environments.
BFA Studio Senior Exhibitions
UW Oshkosh Bachelor of Fine Arts seniors will exhibit their work of ceramics, painting, printmaking and sculpture.
Monday–Friday 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday–Thursday 7 to 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Priebe Gallery is located at 1001 Elmwood Ave., on the first floor of the Arts and Communications building across from the Music Hall.