The idea formed in Joe Sette’s mind a while back, long before the details began to fall into place.
Fort Rucker’s Silver Wings band will play swing music on a warm spring day in the middle of May. Hopefully, the sun will be shining. World War II veterans — as many as possible — will be in attendance along with hundreds and maybe thousands of Wiregrass residents.
There will be speakers. There will be tanks and other military equipment. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers. It will sound and feel like 1942.
The event will be the kickoff to a brand new exhibit at the Wiregrass Museum of Art highlighting some of the most famous photos taken during World War II. The photos will be on display for around two months.
Sette, the museum’s new director, hopes the atmosphere surrounding the event raises the visibility of the museum, tucked away in downtown Dothan behind the Civic Center.
Yes, art can be paintings and sculptures. The museum has some of the state’s best. It can be other things as well.
“The music, that’s art,” Sette said.
“This is exciting, but it is all exciting,” he said. “I think, sometimes, if something is not out front in our face, you just sort of lose sight of it.”
That is part of the task before Sette, raising awareness — and money — through all sorts of avenues.
The World War II photo exhibit and accompanying event is just one of several things planned for the museum. The exhibit will include some of the most famous photographs of the World War II era: The iconic photo of the raising of the U.S. Flag at Iwo Jima and the sailor in a full embrace and kiss of a woman in Times Square are just two of 126 photos that will be on display.
“I think if you bring in quality exhibits and then have events to dovetail off them, it can really raise awareness,” Sette said. “We want to stay relevant, on the frontburner with exciting events and exciting exhibits.”
Sette hopes to create momentum that will increase museum membership and donations, as well as traffic into the museum.
Next week, Alabama artist Jamey Grimes will be giving a free guided tour and discussion of Roil, a unique sculpture exhibit in the museum’s Blumberg Gallery. The exhibit runs from March 19 through July 13. The tour/discussion will be Tuesday, April 2 at 11a.m.
Other planned exhibits include collections from the permanent collection of Frank Stella beginning April 16, a Helen Keller Art Show of Alabama from April 1 through May 17 and an American Cut Glass exhibit from Dr. Thomas M. Fortner from April 16 through July 20.
“We want to be known for quality,” said Sette, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 25 years in the Armed Forces, including time as the executive officer of the Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker. “Whether that is quality education for the youth or quality exhibits. we want to be able to challenge, to open up discussion. We want to move forward based on the belief that if we do quality, well-done events and exhibits, then the community will appreciate it.”
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