Dogs playing baseball on “Saturday Night Live.”
Dogs baking bread on “Sesame Street.”
Dogs interrupting an interview on the “David Letterman Show.”
For much of the 1970s and ’80s, William Wegman appeared everywhere with his dogs – a cast of Weimaraners to be precise – that posed for various compositions. A prominent video and photography artist, Wegman brings his artistic background to the 94th Annual Spring Show, a collaborative artistic effort between Edinboro University and the Erie Art Museum.
“He is exposed to a lot of art and dabbles with many different expressions,” said John Vanco, director of the Erie Art Museum, who grew fond of Wegman’s videography with the famous Weimaraners in the 1970s. “Anyone who has posted a cat video on YouTube is following in his footsteps.”
The Spring Show officially opens to the public on April 23 at 1 p.m. and closes on July 9. This year, a total of $15,000 ($2,500 cash and $12,500 in guaranteed purchases) will be awarded to the best selections. The cash will be divided among the juror’s picks for best in show.
In addition to serving as a juror for the Spring Show, Wegman will also present a free public lecture at Edinboro University on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Louis C. Cole Auditorium – Memorial Hall, 205 Meadville St., Edinboro.
The public lecture is a crucial feature of the Spring Show because it “brings people together – which is always important these days when so many people ignore real life and choose to look at their phones,” Vanco said.
Wegman was picked from a list of professional artists for the invitation to be the Art Department’s Spring Speaker and the museum’s Spring Show juror. Karen Ernst, Edinboro University art professor, said she learned more about Wegman’s wide range of skills through the selection process.
“He’s just immersed in the art world – and is also accessible to non-artists and dog lovers,” she said. “I’m hoping his multimedia background will be good for the EU Art Department.
Ernst said the public lecture allows the professional artist’s work to become more tangible to art students and the public.
“Just hearing someone in person is huge for the Art Department and the students,” she said. “It’s hard to duplicate.”
Creating a “nexus and gathering point for artists and art fans,” the Erie Art Museum and Edinboro University collaboration is extremely important to the art culture of the larger Erie community, Vanco said. “Those who have taught at Edinboro or graduated and remained in the region have contributed to the wealth of the visual arts in our area.”
Edinboro University’s degree programs in fine and applied media arts, crafts, art education and art therapy equip students to become artistic innovators, educators, therapists, animators, graphic designers and creative leaders in other fields. Program graduates live and work around the world.
Wegman, who was born in Holyoke, Mass., in 1943, earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Massachusetts College of Art. An expert in a variety of art forms, he has earned international fame for his photographs, video, paintings and drawings.
He has also written books for both children and adults, including “William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes,” which captures more than 25 years of his work. “Being Human” – expected later this year – chronicles more than 40 years of his work with Weimaraners.
Interested artists may submit their work to the Erie Art Museum Custom House, 411 State St., Erie, on the following dates:
Out-of-town artists may submit their work through prepaid shipping and must include all forms and fees. Send works to Erie Art Museum Frame Shop, 423 State St., Erie, PA 16501.
Notification of acceptance or rejection will be mailed upon completion of judging.
Artists and Erie Art Museum members are invited to a private preview and reception for the Spring Show prior to the opening, on April 22 from 7-9:30 p.m.
Vanco said the Spring Show has been an essential exhibition to learn about what hundreds of artists are doing in the region.
“It’s always been important – as a curator – to see what’s going on in the art community,” said Vanco, who is celebrating his final Spring Show as executive director of the Art Museum prior to his retirement later this year.
For more information about the 94th Annual Spring Show or to download an entry form, visit ErieArtMuseum.org or call (814) 459-5477.