Chazen Museum of Art

News

While Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order is in effect — just like many other people — Chazen staff is working from home. To give visitors a glimpse of our new office life, some of us have supplemented our staff bios, located here, with updated details about our current work situations. 
 

Katherine Alcauskas
Chief Curator

What I do at home for the Chazen: From home, I’m still pretty busy overseeing the curatorial department, our exhibition schedule, and various projects related to the growth, care, and interpretation of the permanent collection. We are working on adapting our current and upcoming exhibition schedule for our updated circumstances as they change. I’m also putting a lot of thought and research into planning for our upcoming permanent collection research.

When I started working from home: Wednesday, March 18

Insider tips for social distancing: It helps that I am still relatively new in town and didn’t have a large group of friends yet! Given how much I’ve moved around, I’ve become used to catching up with friends who are scattered around the world by phone. While not the same as in-person, scheduling regular phone chats with friends can be a great solace and way to stay connected.

Why I stay at home: To show my respect for our doctors and nurses and those in our community who don’t have the luxury of good health.

Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: Governor Tony Evers

On Saturdays you’ll find me: Reading and trying hard to stay off my phone.

What I miss most about being at the Chazen: The artwork. It’s just not the same looking at a thumbnail in the museum’s database!

My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: I love the art quizzes that the Metropolitan Museum of Art does weekly on their Instagram.

Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: It’s harder to plan for exhibitions and do collection research without the ability to pop into the galleries or go see a work in person in storage. 

Describe your remote workspace: When we were looking at places to rent, we looked at all types, including smaller apartments downtown. We ultimately decided to rent a house a little further from the UW campus, but I’m glad we did, because I have an entire room devoted to my office, which I had already set up and had been working from when needed on the weekends. It’s nice to have a separate workspace.

Describe your “co-workers”: Billie and Dizzy, our cats, who are older and pretty mellow, except when Dizzy starts howling because I’m in my office and not showing him enough attention.

Favorite desk snack? I don’t know if it’s the stress or not, but I’ve become addicted to this amazing snack that my boyfriend discovered here in Madison: Barbara’s Original Cheese Puffs. They are like a healthy version of Cheetos, supposedly. I’ve been going through bags of them at a questionable rate.

What do you miss the most about working AT the Chazen? The camaraderie of being with my colleagues all day—it’s nice to see their faces on the computer, but it isn’t the same as seeing one another in person. I also miss getting up and getting dressed up and having a place to go. Lastly, I miss seeing the museum full of students and patrons—there is definitely very little energy here at home in comparison.

Have you started any new habits you’d like to keep once the museum is open? Washing my hands correctly!


John Berner
Preparator

What I do at home for the Chazen: I've been primarily working on materials that we could develop into online engagements for the Chazen in the form of virtual tours and exhibitions. Oh, and plenty of webinars.
 
When I started working from home: A year ago? Wait, a month? Two weeks? Time is getting weird; I’m pretty sure it’s been a few weeks.
 
Insider tips for social distancing: We’ve got a pop-a-shot machine in the basement that’s been keeping us sane… I suppose good luck if you aren’t well equipped with carnival games. Also, keep impulse online shopping to a minimum. Sitting right next to my turntable all day has been a dangerous temptation and I blew most of my vinyl budget for the year in the first week.
 
Why I stay at home: I’d prefer to see the decline of a global pandemic. That starts at home.
 
My ChazenFromHome moment: Checking in during our weekly online get togethers has definitely offered a few opportunities to lighten the mood a bit.
 
Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: Still probably Tom Hanks. 
 
On Saturdays you’ll find me: I hope you won’t. If you found me it would mean I’m not doing a very good job of this whole social distancing thing.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: My day-to-day job generally has me very active and hands-on with artwork and fabricating things in the workshop. Being stuck inside in front of a computer is definitely making me miss being on my feet, working with my hands and being with the art.
 
My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: Probably Mary Ellen Mark’s “Boy With a Lasso.” I actually had recently purchased a gravure print of a photograph of hers with a couple of kids from a rodeo that I left at the Chazen because I was in the middle of making a frame for it. It’s one of my favorite prints that I own and it’s just nice seeing similar work from her since I can’t go back and get my print yet.
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: . It’s mainly memes, but it’s mostly the kind of memes that only art handlers would get. Meaning they’re mainly bad.
 
Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: Figuring out what my job even is anymore now that I’m not installing art.
 
What do you miss the most about working AT the Chazen? Touching art. It’s really a wonderful thing to be able to experience the weight and texture of a piece of art. That said, PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THE ART.

Amy Gilman
Chazen Museum of Art Director

What I do at home for the Chazen: I'm the director of the museum.
 
Why I stay at home: To help my community, near and far, manage the spread of the pandemic.
 
Person I’d most like to meet when COVID isolation is over: I want to be at the entrance on the day we open again to welcome everyone back.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: Do I have to pick one thing?  I work in a museum because I love art and museums are sacred spaces to me. One of the great pleasures of my life is seeing our visitors engage with the collection and gather in our building. Something I can watch in action normally from the windows in my office daily, or by walking through the galleries. It is physically painful to have it empty and dark.
 
Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: Making sure the team stays connected to each other.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: Husband and better half—an introvert having to adjust to having the two family extroverts home 24/7
Son, and frequent office collaborator—often “needs” me in the middle of meetings. Has taken to slipping notes under my “office” door saying: Mom HRE OP (aka Mom, Hurry Up!)
Canine, chews everything, hadn’t started puppy school, bundle of love
 
What do you like the most about working remotely? Having lunch with my son every day.
Favorite desk snack? Apples and cheese

Amy Guthier
Development Specialist

When I started working from home: March 17th
 
Insider tips for social distancing: Finding other ways to connect with family and friends virtually has been wonderful.  We’ve had family FaceTimes with a Play-Doh show and tell and Zoom gatherings.
 
Why I stay at home: I stay at home for all of us.
 
My ChazenFromHome moment: When I was trying to adjust to all of the different technologies being used for virtual meetings and realized I had in headphones that were plugged in to my laptop from a previous Webex meeting and was trying to talk on my cellphone.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: I miss seeing students, staff and the community enjoying all the wonderful things about the museum.
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: I’ve enjoyed so many doing creative things:  Zoos taking animals out on walks, dance companies and theaters presenting virtually and from kitchens, art museums challenging us to re-create works at home.
 
Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: No In-person connections and not being on-campus
 
Describe your remote workspace: I am sharing our dining room table with my husband who is also working remotely.
 
What is your COVID silver lining? It has been nice to connect with friends and family by phone as opposed to just text and email.  Once this is all over, I am hoping we can all reflect on what led us here and not just say “back to normal.”

Alyssa Lynch
Facility Manager

What I do at home for the Chazen: It’s difficult to manage a building from home, but I have ties to the building through automated building systems and the wonderful essential employees that perform maintenance and security duties for the museum.
 
When I started working from home: Monday, March 16th as cases started to grow in Dane County and community spread was becoming evident.
 
Insider tips for social distancing: State and county parks that are still open are a great resource, and you can easily keep your distance from others.
 
My ChazenFromHome moment: Dog watching from the sun room! So far the three perfectly groomed miniature collies that prance by win 1st place.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: I miss interaction with my coworkers, and days where eight hours fly by because of all the projects I’m running back and forth between. The pace of work at home is a little slower but also has its perks!
 
My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: I wrote a research paper on Grande odalisque à la colotte bayadère by Henri Matisse when I was in school during a visit to the old print room in the Elvehjem building – it’s so nice to revisit it online!
 
My newest hobby/pastime: Yard work. I’m getting so much done now that my commute is nonexistent.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: My cranky grey tabby (who follows me from room to room screaming for treats) and my musician husband are both very confused to see me at home so much. My roommate and fellow Chazen employee(!) and her husband are also great coworkers. 
 
Have you started any new habits you’d like to keep once the museum is open? The shortage of face masks across the country has gotten me in the habit of sewing again. I’d like to keep doing something creative on a more regular basis.
 
Favorite desk snack? I am HOOKED on those seaweed snacks from Costco. We’re running low and I’ll be devastated once they’re gone!
 
What is your COVID silver lining? I’ve been more social (virtually) than usual!  As an introvert, it’s really nice to see extroverts getting antsy and reaching out more often.

Ale Nicolet
Director of Development

Why I stay at home: I stay at home for my grandma, who requires 24-hour care, and my siblings and parents, whose work still requires them to go into the office.
 
My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: What was then, will never be again by Jim Dine. I love the website’s image of this work—it feels like I’m being drawn up into the crowd of ancient figures. It’s haunting and beautiful! 
 
My COVID creative outlet: Finally cleaning out my attic so I can paint again.
 
Most unusual difficult part of my job to do remotely: One of the best parts of my job is to meet with Chazen supporters in person at the museum. It’s an amazing place to chat over coffee and while strolling through the galleries. While the museum is closed, I’m grateful to continue connecting with donors over email, phone, and video. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: My husband Jared is my home office co-worker and our office manager is a cat named Juneau, who likes to “inspect” our workspaces by sitting directly on our laptops.
 
What do you miss the most about working AT the Chazen? Working with my creative Chazen family in person.

Jamie Prey
Event Coordinator

My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: If you aren't following Tim on Twitter at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma, stop what you are doing and go check him out!
 
My newest hobby/pastime: Book club! I have joined two book clubs since the quarantine has begun. It is so nice to spend time reading every day, and to have an excuse to 'meet' with friends and family every week.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: I have one co-worker who still has to leave the house four days per week to go work his other job. All my other co-workers and myself stay here full time. My other co-workers are a 5-year-old bunny, a 4-year-old puppy, and a 1-year-old toddler. Honestly, the puppy and the toddler seem to think going to work is just for hanging out, and they really don't understand why I sometimes hide from them in order to actually get some work done. 

 
What do you like the most about working remotely? Yoga pants. And daily walks, in yoga pants, I suppose.

Adrienne Rich
Assistant Curator of Education

 
When I started working from home: Monday, March 16th was my first day working at home.
 
Insider tips for social distancing: I have really enjoyed walking around my neighborhood and looking at the animals. I live near Wingra Creek and the Henry Vilas Zoo and on my regular walk, I will try to spot as many animals as I can. I have seen a beaver, several muskies jumping the dam, an albino squirrel, a possum in a tree and regularly see the lions, bison, and goats as I walk around the outside of the zoo
 
On Saturdays you’ll find me: reading my book and fishing along Wingra Creek.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: I miss getting up to walk around the museum and exploring the collection during breaks and speaking to co-workers face to face.
 
My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: My favorite work of art online is Provincetown Waterfront by Reynolds Beal. It reminds me of sitting outside in the summertime and looking out onto Lake Mendota from the Memorial Union Terrace.
 
Describe your remote workspace: I work in a couple different locations throughout my house. My favorite spot is on the sun porch so that plants and sunshine can surround me while I work.

Andrea Selbig
Collections Registrar

What I do at home for the Chazen: I am able to continue working on the collections database to keep our online collection up-to-date so that our visitors can access our extensive collection.
 
Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: John Krasinski! His Some Good News show is keeping me sane.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: I miss walking around the galleries and working with the artworks. Digital images are great, but nothing beats the real thing.
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: I love looking all the #gettymuseumchallenge posts on Twitter and Instagram.
 
My COVID creative outlet: Working with my family to capture our own family #gettymuseumchallenge creations!
 
Describe your remote workspace: I have a makeshift office set up on my dining room table. There is lots of natural light and space to spread out.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: My new co-workers include two bored teenagers, spouse, confused kitty, and two very happy dogs, one of which (recently adopted) sits on my lap nearly all day.
 
What do you miss the most about working AT the Chazen? I miss the energy of the campus and the students, our visitors, and the museum's beautiful architecture.
 
What do you like the most about working remotely? I am really enjoying the 1-minute commute, my very relaxed dress code, and my canine co-workers!
 
What is your COVID silver lining? I feel grateful to spend more time with my older kids who I rarely saw pre-COVID.

Emma Shore
Preparator

What I do at home for the Chazen: I’d normally be installing artwork or working with the museum’s permanent collection. My job is normally very hands-on. Because that sort of work is impossible at the moment, I’ve been updating artwork records in the museum database, helping to model galleries in our design software, and taking online classes to develop my professional skills from home.
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: I really miss working closely with art and being in the galleries. I also miss the pastries at the café!
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: The Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Twitter account is bringing me a lot of joy in these weird times. Tim is a national treasure.
 
My newest hobby/pastime: I bought a synthesizer about two weeks before the Chazen closed so I’ve been creating weird music in my free time.
 
What do you like the most about working remotely? I love being able to hang out with my cat! It’s also really nice to be able to roll out of bed in the morning and be at work. 

Rebecca Strauss
Assistant Editor

What I do at home for the Chazen: I’m the assistant editor, and since transitioning to home I’ve been posting content like our new “virtual tours” on the website, as well as keeping social media accounts active.
 
Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: One of my personal heroes is Jane Goodall. She’s got a lot to say about what got us into this mess, and I would love to discuss it with her over a cup of coffee in the Chazen Café.
 
My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: I’ve been doing some photo research for a project and came across so many works by Salvador Dalí that we don’t have on display. One of my favorites is The Lorelei.
 
My COVID creative outlet: Definitely cooking. One of my favorite things to do is pore over cookbooks and plan out my week’s recipes, and now I have more time to cook complicated dishes. The grocery store, however, is another story.
 
Describe your remote workspace: My office is in the front of the house, and my desk overlooks the window out onto my street. It’s very quiet and sun streams in all morning, which makes it a relaxing spot.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: I have four demanding co-workers, long-haired dachshunds ranging in age from 14 to 8. They require frequent breaks, treats and attention, and each of these interruptions is noted on their timesheets.
 
Favorite desk snack? All of them. All the snacks.

Candie Waterloo
Curator of Education

 

What I do at home for the Chazen: I’m currently focusing my efforts on reimagining museum programming and education resources in innovative ways in light of COVID-19.
 
Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: Dr. Fauci. I’d like to thank him for being empathetic, rational and honest. He’s my quarantine hero!
 
What I miss most about being at the Chazen: the galleries! I miss being able to roam for solace, inspiration, and to chat with visitors. 
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: it’s so hard to choose because so many cultural institutions are killing it, but I’d have to say the Shedd Aquarium. Their penguin videos are giving me life right now!
 
My newest hobby/pastime: fun with polymer clay! I collect vintage oversized earrings, and I’m using this time to experiment with making my own out of clay.
 
Describe your work from home “co-workers”: Furry, inquisitive and always in my way! But at least they’re cute?! Cats. I’m talking about cats people!
 
What do you miss the most about working AT the Chazen? My colleagues. I work very collaboratively and it’s hard not being able to walk across or down the hall to check-in or brainstorm or troubleshoot.
 
What is your COVID silver lining? COVID has forced us all to reconnect in ways that we normally didn’t. Texting is almost obsolete as we’re using Zoom and FaceTime more than ever. In a sense, it’s made me feel closer to my dearest friends who all live beyond Madison.

James R. Wehn
Van Vleck Curator of Works on Paper

What I do at home for the Chazen: Collect, preserve, display, and interpret prints, drawings, and photographs.

My ChazenFromHome moment: One of the first days working from home, I encounted Handsome Heroes of the Suikoden during a random search of the Chazen’s collection online. I don’t even remember what I was looking for at the time, but I ended up clicking through all 52 color woodcuts from this suite by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839-1892). I love heroic stories, and I am looking forward to the day I can study these colorful, dramatic prints in person.

My favorite artwork at chazen.wisc.edu: I hate picking favorites, but I’m going to say Edvard Munch, Vampire II, 1902 or Albrecht Dürer, Nemesis, ca. 1501-1502

My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: For close looks at high resolution images, checkout clevelandart.org.

My newest hobby/pastime: Yoga

Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: Close looking. A lot of my work depends on close examination of prints and drawings I am studying, so I can comprehend the artist’s use of materials—for example, paper, ink, pigments, chalk, charcoal, graphite, etc.—and how they come together to create the work of art.

What do you like the most about working remotely? Long periods of silence, which are helpful for reading and writing.

What is your COVID silver lining? No commute! I estimate that I have about 30-40 minutes of extra free time each day.


Kristine Zickuhr
Assistant Director for Administration

What I do at home for the Chazen: Oversight of non-mission related activities. That means operations, budgeting, HR, security, facilities, etc.
 
When I started working from home: Mid-March. I had just returned from a trip, and had one day in the office. Like many places, we weren’t sure exactly when we would close or how long it would last.
 
Insider tips for social distancing: Get take-out or delivery from your favorite restaurant. It’s not perfect social distancing, but they need the support. Tip really well.
 
My ChazenFromHome moment: My cat has no interest in me until I start a web meeting. Then she knocks over chairs and gets tangled up in my laptop cord.
 
Person I’d most like to meet at the Chazen when COVID isolation is over: I just hope we’re all back soon, happy and healthy.
 
My favorite museum website or social media account other than the Chazen: Center for the Future of Museums
 
My newest hobby/pastime: I taught my husband to sew, and we’re making masks. I’m getting involved with a local group to help coordinate distribution. It’s easy to feel helpless right now.
 
My COVID creative outlet: Gardening
 
Most difficult part of my job to do remotely: Technology. Scanning documents one painful page at a time.
 
Describe your remote workspace: It’s my dining room table. Luckily, it’s next to a patio door so I get to see and hear the birds.
 
Describe your “co-workers”: An old beagle and several cats.
 
What is your COVID silver lining? A renewed appreciation for all of the good things I have in my life. 

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