If you’ve visited the museum recently you’ve probably noticed some new faces leading gallery tours. In November seven trainees joined the docent ranks and are eager to share information, ask and answer questions, and provide insights into Lightcatcher exhibitions. These accomplished docents come from diverse backgrounds and careers, from teaching to neuroscience to design work, but the one common interest that drew them was their love of art. Learn a little more about our newest docents:
Phyllis Self says she became a docent to become more deeply involved with the museum and to broaden her understanding of art. Since moving here in 1988 she has assumed many civic roles including chairing the task force for restoring the Mount Baker Theatre together with her husband and serving as a Whatcom Community College trustee and chairing its foundation. She is currently on numerous non-profit boards in the community. Phyllis is an accomplished pastel landscape artist, and she recently received the Mayor’s Arts Award.
Antonella Antonini, PhD, is a retired neuroscientist who worked at the University of Pisa and the University of Verona before coming to the US. At the University of California’s San Francisco Center for Integrative Neuroscience she continued her research until 2003 when she and her husband retired to Bellingham. She has pursued her passion for the arts by completing a Bachelor of Art in Art History at Western Washington University and volunteering at the Western Gallery. For years Antonella has practiced Nui-do, traditional Japanese silk embroidery, and studied pietra dura mosaic techniques in Florence, Italy.
David Verwolf’s life career was as Principal/Owner of a design firm in Chicago, followed by ten years of service as a hospital chaplain. After van-camping in Europe for three years, he and his wife settled in Bellingham a year ago. A partner in a winery on Bainbridge Island, he enjoys photography, kayaking, and gardening. David explains why he became a docent: “It’s the best way I know to keep in regular contact with art, to research artists and art movements, to learn and more deeply understand art, and to interface with museum guests on the topic.”
Mark Holzband, formerly a high school English and Journalism teacher in Hollywood, California, retired to Bellingham ten years ago. He loves to travel, look at pictures, read good books, listen to serious music, and share those interests with others. “Becoming a docent seems a good fit,” he says.
Grace Shaffner is from Omaha, but has spent much of her adult life living in various US cities, and England. In Los Altos, California, she was a docent for the school district. In 2004 she and her husband, an author, arrived in Bellingham for his book reading at Village Books. They both loved the area and soon after moved here. Grace met a neighbor, a current docent, who encouraged her to get involved with our program.
Maria Krzysiek was a district art teacher in Chicago, Illinois, then moved to California to teach before relocating in Bellingham in 2013. She is currently teaching and coaching in the Burlington-Edison School District. Textile arts, mixed media, oil painting, and tennis are her special interests. “As a kid, and later as an art teacher, I was always fascinated by the docents giving tours at the Art Institute of Chicago and thought one day I’d like to become one—maybe in retirement, but obviously I’ve acted much sooner on that,” she says.
Susan McDermott majored in Art at Colorado State University and recently retired after a 38-year career in residential real estate sales in her home state, as well as in Bellingham. Indigenous cultures and art of the Southwest and Mexico are of special interest to her. “Being a new docent is a great start on this next chapter in my life,” she says, which also includes plenty of travel visiting anthropological and geological sites. When she’s home, spending time with her large family is a priority.
We hope you will welcome our new docents when taking a tour. Docent-led tours are offered Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:30pm in the first floor gallery and 2:30pm in the second floor gallery. Tours begin in the lobby and are free with admission and to members. Private tours can be arranged by contacting Marilyn Burns by email, or calling 360.778.8938.