A tradition continues at the Neville with the opening of the 68th Art Annual Juried Exhibition on September 22.
Back in 1942, Earl G. Wright was the Museum’s director. He was a noted ornithologist (a bird specialist), and was also an artist—he illustrated many of the articles he wrote about birds, and was an excellent portrait artist. The Neville has examples of each in the permanent collection.
As an art lover, he decided to offer regional artists the opportunity to exhibit their own original artwork at the Museum by entering a juried (judged) competition. The first Art Annual, in 1942, was open to artists living in only eight counties in northeast Wisconsin. It was very popular, and was an annual event until 1983.
1983 was the year that the Museum physically moved from its “old” location on the corner of Jefferson and Doty Streets in Green Bay to its current building on Museum Place. Since the move into the new building was such a major project, there was no Art Annual held that year. It began again, however, in 1984—bigger than ever, with expanded boundaries. Now, artists living throughout the entire northeastern quadrant of Wisconsin or in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula could enter—an expansion which continues to this day.
The other two times the Art Annual was not a yearly event took place when the Museum was between art curators for an extended period of time, and, later, when the Museum decided to experiment with an Art Biennial instead. The experiment wasn’t very successful, and the exhibition is again held every year.
Earl Wright also hired the first full-time Curator of Art in 1945—Agnes Wainwright—and there has been a Curator of Art here ever since.
By Marilyn Stasiak, Curator of Art