The last few days have been some of the most interesting and rewarding days of my career thus far. I hope you have a few minutes to read about a fantastic experience I’ve had.
Last week, as I was planning my next “What’s Happening” video, I decided to step out of the library and into the community once again to highlight a Fort Wayne event and tie it back to the library.
Our Fort Wayne Museum of Art has been closed for a while for an expansion and renovation project. I was so excited when I drove past the building a few weeks ago to see a banner outside the building proclaiming “Three Generations of Wyeth”. I knew immediately what this must mean–that the museum would be featuring works by N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth.
You have no idea how completely thrilled I was at the thought of being able to view any of the Wyeths’ art up close and in person. I fell in love with Andrew Wyeth’s work back in college, when I went to an art print sale in the student center of the University of Kentucky, and found a poster of Christina’s World which I bought for roughly $5.00. I hung it up in its cheap, plastic cover in my dorm room and emoted regularly as I stared at the girl in the picture, certain that she felt as desperate as I did, gazing hopelessly at her home and longing for something more, surely with tears streaming down her face at her empty, empty life. Oh the drama of early adulthood! I was surprised when later on, in my thirties, I discovered that Christina Olson was actually a 55-year-old woman who used to drag herself along the floor and the field for apparent lack of a wheelchair.
That did not stop me though, from exploring the art of the Wyeth family. Since I worked with children’s books for many years, I regularly shelved classics illustrated by N. C. Wyeth, like Treasure Island and Pilgrims. I also discovered Jamie Wyeth, whose paintings are so similar to his father Andrew’s, and whose subject matter is equally captivating.
So I decided to film my “What’s Happening” video at the art museum (hoping to receive their permission, of course), talking about the exhibit, and mentioning how the library has plenty of books of Wyeth art to check out and enjoy. I would also talk about the library’s own Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, where art exhibits are featured year-round.
I wrote on the ACPL blog about the whole thing, too, because I was enormously excited and couldn’t control myself–I had to write about it, too! Following a new convention for blog posting, I signed my name, title and e-mail address.
But what happened next is where this story becomes interesting.
Within a half-hour of posting on the blog, I received an e-mail from a gentleman named Peter Ralston, who told me that he was a longtime family friend of the Wyeths, and photographer, whose photographs of the Wyeths and their art had appeared in various books. Like a good librarian should, I went to Google and typed in his name to verify his identity, and I found that not only has Mr. Ralston photographed the last two generations of the Wyeth family, but his photographs of their work has appeared in no less than forty books. In an exchange of e-mails, he told me about his close relationship with Andrew and then he proceeded to e-mail me 24 photographs that he had taken of Andrew, Jamie, and family.
I sat at my computer Friday afternoon with tears welling up in my eyes as I gazed at these photographs of a man whom I have admired above all artists for the past 20 years. Mr. Ralston gave me permission to use the photographs as I wished, as very small jpegs. So I put them in the video that I made.
I am looking forward to visiting the exhibit next week while I’m on vacation, with my 14-year-old son, and someday making a pilgrimage up to the Farnsworth’s Wyeth Center and Brandywine River Museum and the Olson House.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that you should follow your passion. When we talk about what we love, the results are always good!
This is the first year I have ever made any New Year’s Resolutions and actually carried them out. We went to visit Helene’s team over at Columbus Metropolitan Library last week; and while I was there, I was thinking about how to be thought of as a leader, but came back thinking about the kind of leader I want to be. There is a big difference between the two. I had been feeling disappointed that people were not seeking me out as a resource in the library, but after digesting everything for a while, I remembered that I cannot change others’ behavior, only my own.
“the king [leader] shall consider as good, not what pleases himself but what pleases his subjects [followers]” “the king [leader] is a paid servant and enjoys the resources of the state together with the people.”
The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Next comes one whom they despise and defy. When you are lacking in faith, Others will be unfaithful to you. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’
While I am not a king, I can certainly follow these leadership ideas. I am attracted to these qualities of the good king:
- serves others
- uses foresight
- builds community
- committed to growth of others
- compassionate collaborator
- systems thinker
- unleashes the energy and intelligence of others
So I am trying to consciously think about these qualities in my behavior and work. I hope to let you know how it’s going, but remind myself, it’s a journey!
This is the video that made me want to start making my own. It’s about eating haggis; it’s interesting, short, decently made, and shows anyone can make a video! (Don’t worry, no preaching…)
I should also mention that today Sean showed me an easy way to shoot myself on video while walking. Simply attach the camera to a tripod, hold the tripod up with the bottom of the legs wedged into your hip, and go!