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McDermott Art Gallery goes behind the curtain for Winkelman exhibit

A visitor looks at sketches from a Theatre AUM play in the Winkelman exhibit on opening day.
A visitor looks at sketches from a Theatre AUM play in the Winkelman exhibit on opening day. (AUM Photographer Frank Williams)

A new faculty exhibit showcasing the behind-the-scenes work of Theatre AUM will be on display in the Cason McDermott Art Gallery through March 23.

a close up of a woman smiling for the camera
Val Winkelman
Tim Needles smiling for the camera
Mike Winkelman

The “Art of Making Art: The Designs of Mike and Val Winkelman” opened Thursday, Feb. 2, featuring the two communication and theatre professors’ theatre designs. The exhibit includes Theatre AUM props, from scenery, costumes, and lighting to sketches, renderings, blueprints, and scenic models.

“This exhibition is the culmination of several years of asking Val Winkelman to put on a show of her work,” said Will Fenn, chair and associate professor of photography. “Her costume designs are remarkable and I don’t think the public understands how much she does in regard to teaching and her profession. The same goes for Mike.”

Visitors of the Winkelman exhibit will get a glimpse into the two faculty members’ research, teaching, and service over their careers at AUM, which spans three decades.

“We were invited and honored to showcase some of the behind-the-scenes process of our Theatre AUM work,” Val Winkelman said. “We have been collaborating on theatre productions since 1981 and here at AUM since 1990. It is nice to share this exhibit to showcase our work.”

Fenn said visitors of the Winkelman exhibit will find unique art pieces such as a plane outside the gallery from a set piece Mike Winkelman made for the tour of the play “Most Happy Fella.”

“The play utilizes every form of transportation and so the director wanted a plane,” Fenn said. “For liability purposes, I had to put a label on the seat of the plane saying, This is art, this is not a toy. Please do not sit on this sculpture. I think that made Mike laugh when he heard it. I don’t think he views the plane as art, but it is.”

Over the past couple of years, the mission of the Cason McDermott Art Gallery has been to bring contemporary art and artists to Montgomery, Fenn said.

“Through the generosity of the McDermott family and the support of Dean McMichael and the AUM Lectures Committee, we’ve done just that,” he said. “But I also wanted to showcase something special at AUM. The Art of Making Art exhibit is certainly a different type of show, but it is one that is made by members of our community and that is unique.”

The AUM community can view the Winkelmans’ exhibit from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday- Friday through March 23 in the Cason McDermott Art Gallery. An artist talk on the exhibit and the Winkelmans’ design process is set for Feb. 20 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. in Goodwyn Hall 109.

“At the end of the artist talk there will be an amalgam of the questionnaires made popular by (French journalist) Bernard Pivot and (comedian, writer and actor) Stephen Colbert, so you might even learn what is Mike’s favorite sandwich, among other interesting things,” Fenn said.

The exhibit is just a tiny portion of Theatre AUM’s archives, Val Winkelman said.

“It has been a joy to go through all of the elements in editing the work that will be on display,” she said. “We’re excited about this opportunity for everyone to see the process and work that goes into a production before it opens.”

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