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Racine, WI     November 25, 2011
The Racine Art Museum Unveils New Gifts to the Collection

Blinova, Kholui Studio, Owl in the Forest, ca. 1991-2001
Papier mâché, egg tempera, and lacquer
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Wendy Lee McCalvy
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine, WI

RAM premieres a gift to the permanent collection of over forty 20th-century colorful Russian lacquer boxes from donor Wendy Lee McCalvy. Open through January 15, 2012, New Gifts to the Collection: Russian Lacquer Boxes features intricately decorated, narrative works that combine painting with the creation of three-dimensional objects, epitomizing RAM's objective to blur the line between fine art and craft. These lacquer objects are comparable to other vessels in the collection, functional or not, that have been decorated with glaze, paint, or other media.


Russian lacquer boxes are made of papier-mâché. Each object represents an intense period of labor-from the making of the box itself to the surface treatment. The surfaces are lacquered and hand painted in a variety of styles that reflect regional interests and traditions. Russian fairy tales and legendary figures show up often, sharing space with popular culture and political subjects. Rooted in icon painting as well as social and cultural changes, the Russian lacquer ware tradition that has blossomed since the late eighteenth century is connected to the nation's identity and commerce. The four historically important centers for this craft-the villages of Kholui, Palekh, Fedoskino, and Mstiora-are all represented with this exhibition at RAM.


Although Racine's cultural demographics are dominated by the descendents of Danish and German immigrants, there is still a noticeable Russian contingent in the area. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Russians and Slovaks played a large role in twentieth-century immigration to the southeast Wisconsin area. With the arrival of this gift, made possible by Racine collector Wendy Lee McCalvy, RAM honors this folk craft and the area's Russian history and culture.



On Friday, December 2 at 6:30 pm, Ms. McCalvy will be present for a gallery reception and interview conducted by RAM Executive Director and Curator of Collections, Bruce W. Pepich. This exciting opportunity allows visitors to hear how and why this collector began gathering these intricate works and why she chose to gift her collection to the museum. The event takes place during First Friday in Downtown Racine when RAM has free admission 10:00 am - 9:00 pm.


This exhibition is made possible by: Presenting Sponsors -
Karen Johnson Boyd and William B. Boyd, RAM Society Members, Jay Price Ruffo, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. and Windgate Charitable Foundation; Gold Sponsors - Helen Bader Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, Racine Community Foundation, Inc. and Racine United Arts Fund; Silver Sponsors - Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research, Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation, W.T. Walker Group, Inc. and Wisconsin Arts Board; Bronze Sponsors - Clifton Gunderson LLP, CNH America LLC, Educators Credit Union, Friends of Fiber Art International, In Sink Erator, Knight-Barry Title, Inc., Real Racine and Runzheimer Foundation


Together, the two campuses of the Racine Art Museum, RAM in downtown Racine at 441 Main Street and the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts at 2519 Northwestern Avenue, seek to elevate the stature of contemporary crafts to that of fine art by exhibiting significant works in craft media with painting, sculpture and photography, while providing outstanding educational art programming.

Docent led contemporary craft and architectural tours of the museums are available. Both campuses of the Racine Art Museum, are open to the public Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, and are closed Mondays, Federal holidays and Easter. RAM is open Sunday Noon - 5:00 pm, while Wustum is closed Sundays. An admission fee of $5 for adults, with reduced fees for students and seniors, applies at RAM. Admission to Wustum is free. Members are always admitted without charge to either campus.

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For more information or to request images, please contact:

Laura Gillespie
RAM Marketing Assistant
262.638.8300 x 114