Sandy Cohen Named New Museum Director!

02-Focus-Sandy-Cohen-600-304The board of trustees of the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center has contracted with Sandor “Sandy” Cohen of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to become the museum’s new executive director.

“We are pleased to have received so many applications from very qualified candidates, both locally and nationally,” board president Karen Russell said. “It was a difficult decision but we are confident that Sandy, with the support of our staff, board and community, has the ability to take us to the next level in our strategic planning.”

Cohen, who most recently served as director of the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in New Mexico, was one of three finalists recently interviewed by the board. Cohen’s other museum positions include director of the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, and assistant director of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. He holds a master of arts degree from Wright State University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Towson State University in Baltimore, Md.

Cohen and his wife, Debbie, will be relocating to Wenatchee and he will begin his new post no later than June 15. He fills a position vacated by Brenda Abney in December. Jim Russell has served as the museum’s interim director during the candidate search.

Lynn Bourton of Diversified Human Resource Consulting was hired by the museum to oversee the recruitment process. Staff and board members were involved in interviews, and a public reception was held at the museum so that community members and stakeholders could meet the final candidates.

American Masters Come To The Museum May 1

EOP web graphicThe national touring exhibit “Extraordinary Ordinary People: American Masters of the Traditional Arts” will open Friday, May 1, at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center. It recognizes exceptional folk artists through art objects, photographs, videos and interactive media.

“The exhibit presents a journey across America through the lives of individuals whose creativity is rooted in their cultural identities and communities,” said Jill Linzee, director of Northwest Heritage Resources, which is co-presenting the exhibit with the museum.

Five live programs associated with “Extraordinary Ordinary People” will take place at the museum May 15, 22, 30, June 5 and 12. They include three concerts, folk poetry, and a presentation on cowboy and Indian culture of Eastern Washington. 

Admission to the museum is free all day, with a reception being held from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the Wenatchee First Fridays art walk program. The museum is located at 127 South Mission Street in Wenatchee. For more information call (509) 888-6240 or visit

Film Addresses Kids’ Need of the Great Outdoors

Abby Nature film CCWhile the foothills of the Wenatchee Valley are ablaze with spring bloom and headlines tout the opening of hiking trails from seasonal closures, too many kids are staying inside with eyes glued to video screens. The Chelan Douglas Land Trust, sponsors of the Wenatchee Valley Environmental Film Series’ April 21 screening of “Mother Nature’s Child,” recognizes the need to get kids engaged in the outdoors and is doing something about it.

“We are launching a new program this spring focused on getting kids outside and learning about nature,” said Sharon Lunz, Communications & Development Director for the Land Trust. “By making it easier for families to visit lands close to home that the Land Trust has helped protect, we hope to bring the benefits of natural areas to a wide cross-section of our community.”

Land Trust staff will be on hand before and after the 7 p.m. screening of Mother Nature’s Child at the Wenatchee Valley Museum to talk about their “Kids and Nature Connections” program designed to provide events and outings in the Wenatchee foothills tailored to families. Mother Nature’s Child poignantly addresses the value of outdoor experiences for children. The benefits include: greater physical activity, better peer relationships, greater awareness of nutrition, decreased susceptibility to learning disorders, increased creativity, and ability to think critically

The series is presented by Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, Trust for Public Land and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust. Screenings are free but a $5 donation is suggested.

For more information call 888-6240 or visit

Join Us For Spring Break: Random Acts of Robotics

SSA_2014_18 If you like to design and build robots check out Random Acts of Robotics, a spring break camp for kids in grades 3-5 March 30 through April 2 at the museum.

Veteran teacher Rosa Eilert leads the introduction to robotics course that runs 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday at the museum at 127 S. Mission St., Wenatchee.

Students can enroll on a day-to-day basis or all four days. Each day has a separate theme: Monday’s project is constructing an art bot, Tuesday features Vibrabots and Miniwalkers, Wednesday’s class involves constructing a robotic arm and Thursday’s focus is programming.

“We are excited to offer this class to kids interested in gaining some basic experience in designing and building robots,” said museum education coordinator Selina Danko. “Rosa is the perfect teacher. She loves to help kids learn through exploration and experience.”

Students will assemble robots with small motors, solar panels, batteries and robot kits. Each day features a project that students can take home. Space is limited to 15 students. Cost of the program is $30 per day for museum members, $35 for nonmembers. To attend all week, cost is $100 for members and $120 for nonmembers.

Birders: The Central Park Effect Screening March 17 at 7


Every spring, dedicated New Yorkers line up in Central Park to witness the extraordinary array of birds that grace the park every year. The oasis of green acts as a magnet for the twice-yearly migration of millions of birds moving along the Eastern Seaboard.

Filmmaker Jeffrey Kimball captures this phenomenon in his film Birders: The Central Park Effect, screening at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, 127 S. Mission St. The film is sponsored by the North Central Washington Audubon Society.

Devoting equal time and affections to birds and birders, Birders explores a distinctly New York phenomenon, telling a story of humanity, nature and the precarious balance between the two.

Not only does the film capture the diversity of the birds chancing the park but the diversity of the people who watch them. The colorful cast includes acclaimed author Jonathan Franzen, an idiosyncratic trombone technician, a fashion-adverse teenager and a bird-tour leader who has recorded every sighting she has made since 1940.

Filmmaker Kimball said: “I hope that this film conveys how a vital piece of nature can exist in the most unlikely of places and that now, more than ever, we need to make every effort to preserve nature wherever we find it.”

The Wenatchee Valley Film Series is presented by Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, Trust for Public Land and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust. Screenings are free but a $5 donation is suggested.

Museum to Host NCW’s Regional High School Art Show

???????????????????????????????The museum is proud to sponsor the Regional High School Art Show in cooperation with the North Central Educational Service District and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction each year.

This show features works by top art students from all over North Central Washington. The art show opens during the March First Friday Art Walk on March 6.

There will be an additional reception and awards ceremony Saturday, March 14 from 1 to 3 pm. The works judged “Best of Show” move on to the state “Annual Superintendent’s High School Art Show” in Olympia.

The museum’s regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 to 4. First Fridays mean FREE admission from 10 am to 8 pm the first Friday of every month. For members regular admission is free. For non-members admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $2 for children 6 to 12.

For more info on the high school art show, contact our Curator of Exhibits Bill Rietveldt at 888-6247 or

An Actor Prepares, Interviews the Daughter of Robert Graves

WVM_collinsasgravesDon Collins (left) will be portraying award-winning artist and Wenatchee Valley College instructor Robert Graves during People Of Our Past Feb. 28 at the Museum.

Graves helped make public art a priority in Wenatchee and his involvement with Art in Public Places helped lead to the installment of the fountain in the courtyard of the Numerica Performing Arts Center and the iconic Coyote Leading the Salmon sculpture at Walla Walla Point Park.

In preparation for his role, Don sat down with Robert Graves’ daughter Jody to get some details about this historic pillar of the North Central Washington art community.

My beautiful picture

Don: Did your father have a favorite visual artist(s) that he most admired?

Jody: Jackson Pollack, Van Gogh, de Kooning, Callahan.

Don: Did he have a favorite Art Period or Movement?

Jody: Over his life Dad had many “favorite” periods, but seemed most drawn to the works of Picasso and the like, and what followed in the evolving art of (Der Blaureiter) Kandinsky, and the abstract expressionism of the 50’s-70’s which embraced the depiction of emotional response through “non-traditional” imagery.

However, he didn’t like the “titles”… even in a late conversation I had with him in July before he passed away we were talking about objective vs. subjective art, and he adamantly claims that even his most abstract work was objective in how he saw nature, and how he emotionally responded to it through the canvas or the printmaking process.

Don: Which art piece of his own was he most proud?

Jody: Dad would say his pen and ink sketches….there are stacks of these sketch books! Always in his hand when we were growing up, at the beach, when we would go camping, etc.

I also know that he was most proud of whatever he was working on at the moment. He would hang the latest work at the end of the hallway, back up, and put his hand out to block certain sections to see if it was balanced or shaded in ways he saw. (I was always fascinated with that image of Dad … and the constant smell of turpentine!)

The pen and ink drawings he did when we lived in England, the Nordic Cruciform series (collographs) and his printmaking, especially around the time of his retirement. He purchased the Ray Trayle press to continue his passion for printmaking after retirement, and eventually moved the press to his Whidbey Island studio.

Don: Did he have a favorite book? Author? Did he have much time to read?

Jody: Dad was an avid reader, and LOVED mysteries, and certain kinds of science fiction. Loved the creative imagination of some of the science fiction writers….stacks of books everywhere. Loved J.A. Jance!

Don: Did he have a favorite food?

Jody: Cookies and potato chips! (He had an incredible sweet tooth!) And McDonald’s coffee. He loved home-made bbq chicken.

Don: Did he have a joke or two he liked to tell?

Jody:He wasn’t a joke-teller, but was very funny and had a turn of phrase that was very humorous to us! He found simple things funny, everyday situations, and had a bit of a “down-home” lingo such as “Warshington” and “Go get your britches fixed” as well as “Let’s get a load of donuts for the trip!”

Don: Did he have any noticeable habits or traits when he would speak to a group of people?

Jody: Dad did not really like to speak in public settings much, such as art openings, but he would do it. He was natural, and soft-spoken, but very insightful. But he was extremely comfortable with his college students, and in lecture classes and painting or drawing classes. Due to his heart trouble he was a little unsteady, so he liked to hold on to a podium, or sit on a table or stool when he talked in public.

Don: How would you describe your father’s voice?

Jody: I have attached a precious audio recording of me talking to Dad in July, 2013. That will give you his voice…it was a tiny bit weaker than when he retired of course, but the timbre was pretty much the same. No one else has heard this yet as it is still a little fresh if you know what I mean.

Don: What would you say was his most memorable moment(s) as a father?

Jody: I think dad was very surprised and touched that we (myself and my sisters) organized a surprise retirement party that included a book of letters from former students and colleagues. The letters were filled with gratitude for what Dad had done for them…his care for his students was legendary. I remember him offering a few dollars for a student to get some food, or ordering extra art supplies to provide students what they needed. Another time was when he flew to New York to hear my final doctoral recital at the Eastman conservatory. There was a huge storm, and his plane was re-routed to D.C. and then Buffalo. He gathered a few folks together and got a taxi to drive the distance to Rochester, NY, and he arrived 30 minutes before I walked on stage. I will never forget that.

There were very special times we spent as a family in England seeing the great art galleries together. Listening to dad describe what he saw in nature, the light through the trees, and the play of color and light looking down in a creek. The shapes and waving of beach grass, and the dramatic configuration of beach logs. Sitting around a campfire and singing… and coming to visit him at the college and see the students working at the easels and knowing dad was facilitating the emerging creativity.

Everyone felt good around Dad. He was so incredibly kind. He modeled what it meant to be compassionate and caring… and he followed his heart as an artist despite the resistance and the initial disdain from his birth family. He was the first to get a college education, let alone a masters degree. He was very proud of contributing something beautiful to the world, even when the world didn’t understand his expression artistically. He was passionate about keeping art as a centerpoint in our education system…and not as an “extra-curricular activity”. Did he make a difference? In my opnion, and the opinion of countless students and others who enjoy his art in their homes, hospitals, and other public places I would say a resounding yes! He was especially proud when Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, chose some of Dad’s pieces to hang in his office in Washington D.C.

His favorite song was “What A Wonderful World” – the lyrics sum up the way Dad looked at life.