Museum Staff Creativity on Display

By Meghan Gattignolo, Visitor Services Coordinator

The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center offers many distinct exhibits throughout the year, but one experience you will only get here at our Museum is the Annual Staff Art Show. Usually, those of us employed at the Museum work around other people’s creative expressions, but once a year, we get to show Museum visitors what we can do too!   

The Museum has been showcasing artwork created by staff members for the past ten years, with only one forced hiatus in 2020. Curator of Exhibits Terri Jordan said the tradition started simply as a fun one-time celebration of the many creative people on staff at the time. However, the positive response from visitors was greater than expected. Museum-goers began asking about the exhibit, and it didn’t take long for the show to become ingrained into the Museum’s identity. Terri continues to dedicate exhibit space once a year to showcase the talent and expression of those who work behind the scenes at the Museum. 

Watercolor painting of two young boys sitting on a bench in a gallery looking across to four Andy Warhol-style paintings of Marilyn Monroe hanging on the wall.

Encountering Marilyn, by Frank Lott

If creative people are naturally drawn to museum work, that is certainly true within the current staff. We are indeed a mixed bag of crafters, art hobbyists, as well as both professional and aspiring artists. All of us have some method of creative output that we enjoy. One artist on staff happens to be our current Executive Director Frank Lott. Frank is well-known for his watercolors on historical themes around Clarksville and Montgomery County. His contribution to the staff art show, Encountering Marilyn,was inspired by a recent trip to an Andy Warhol exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. During his visit, Frank noticed two young men looking at images of Marilyn Monroe, perhaps for the first time. Frank endeavored to capture today’s youth experiencing the “classic glamour of Marilyn Monroe.”

Photo collage of a 60's couple putting food on a dinner plate. She is wearing a yellow dress and he has a faded yellow suit on. Earth from space is in the background with the words "Win the World Sweepstakes" cut out above them.

Winner Take All, by Maggie Cusick

Visitor Services Associate Maggie Cusick submitted her collage Winner Take All. Maggie enjoys finding older magazines, catalogs and textbooks for inspiration. Assembling the art is “a labor of love,” as each component is cut out individually by hand with an X-acto knife and placed. Maggie particularly enjoys collaging because “it’s like a puzzle I need to solve.” Much of her work depicts images of people from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s in the foreground of galactic landscapes to create visually interesting artwork. 

Oil painting of a grassy scene from Rotary Park. Tress, grassy and a trail can be seen.

After the Rain, Rotary Park, by Terri Jordan

Established artist and curator Terri Jordan also shares the inspiration behind her submission After the Rain, Rotary Park:

“…Rotary Park feels like a magical place – it especially did during the 2020 COVID restrictions. As an artist, I think the shutdowns last year brought more awareness of my surroundings. Like many other people during these unusual times of COVID, my family found a sense of peace and freedom exploring the outdoors. While I tend to work in a figurative theme, the park has become a beloved muse and inspiration…”

Don’t miss the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center’s Annual Staff Art Show, in the Lobby now until June 27!

Meghan Gattignolo

Meghan Gattignolo is the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center’s Visitor Services Coordinator and regularly contributes articles to the Museum’s blog. From a military family, Meghan has spent most of her life in Clarksville. She loves learning about Clarksville’s history and writing. Meghan holds a B.A. in History from Austin Peay State University, with minors in German and Political Science. She lives in Clarksville with her husband and two daughters. 

Becky Wood, Technical Writer, edits each blog post. Maegan Collins, Media & Communications Coordinator, prepares photographs and visual images as well as prepares the blog posts for the web.

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