Sheri Burgstrom, Senior Accountant Speaking on Charles Gruppe’s Dutch Landscape
My name is Sheri Burgstrom and my position here at the Memorial Art Gallery is Senior Accountant. I am responsible for budgets, forecasting and other special financial reports.
I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to personally select a piece from our collection that might not otherwise be shared with the public. There was a sense of overwhelming responsibility as I began to review our Embark system which is a huge catalogue of computerized snapshots of each item in our collection. There is pottery, glass, paintings and drawings. We have so many very different categories and types of art. Classic and extremely eccentric pieces I had no idea we have in our collection. The process showed me how our Gallery, the one I was so fortunate to work for, was so full of surprises and future adventures for our patrons, public and family audiences. It was as if this experience was a key and it unlocked a completely new insight to what our Gallery has the potential to offer.
How was I going to choose? I decided to start a list of items that captured a second glance or that I wanted to learn more about. Two hours flew by and all of a sudden I realized that I had reviewed less than 2% of the collection and my list of items that were especially interesting to me filled the notebook page! This approach was not going to work and I wanted to take this opportunity very seriously. How was I ever going to narrow down my choice to one item. All of a sudden, my excitement turned to pure panic. I didn’t want to waste this opportunity.
Each story or description of every piece made them special and important. I had a new appreciation and respect for the curatorial and exhibition staff at our gallery.
It became obvious to me that my approach needed to change and that I had to accept that we have enough treasures to fill a lifetime of viewing. I decided the only way I was going to be able to select an item was to randomly poke at items and narrow my field by accepting that I would choose the first selection that made me think of someone special that I know. In a sense, I would let the item speak to me.
The painting I chose is called the Dutch Landscape, a nautical seascape painted with oils on canvas. When this painting came up I immediately thought of my dad and how he loved to work on building his wooden boats, how my aunt who was a nun that taught art and after her retirement, went to Europe and would send us paintings of landscapes and lastly, the beautiful frame and how I went to an auction when I was 12—and horrified my parents by raising my hand and bidding $7 on 20 ornately framed mirrors—which we still laugh about (and use). I decided if that picture could provoke these three thoughts in an instant, the picture picked itself by bringing back memories for me. I hope you enjoy the item I chose and thank you for letting me share my experience.
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