To add glow and glimmer to Main Street, RAM presents the annual crowd-pleasing RAM Holiday Tree. Soaring in front of the view of Lake Michigan, the illuminated conifer is adorned with over 1,500 glass ornaments from a variety of time periods and subjects—many from late Racine, Wisconsin gallerist and arts supporter Emile H. Mathis II’s collection. Visitors are encouraged to look for unique decorations like octopi and soup cans fashioned in glass alongside more traditional festive creations.
Mathis spent years collecting ornaments for an 11-foot artificial tree that he decorated each year to display in his gallery on Main Street. This tree became a part of the annual Christmas celebrations that took place in Racine’s downtown each year. In addition to establishing The Emile H. Mathis II Fund for Children’s Education when he died in 2012, Mathis gave the museum his treasured tree and a cache of handcrafted blown glass ornaments. The labor of creating the glass ornaments, as well as the process of design and aesthetic choices involved in their construction and decoration, parallels RAM’s emphasis on craft practices.
While Mathis’ tree at the Gallery contained both antique and contemporary decorations, his gift to the museum concentrated on ornaments from the 1940s and 1950s through recent years, and tracks many of the trends in holiday decorations over these decades. RAM is pleased to continue a tradition Mathis started in downtown Racine by presenting its version of what was once called “the most beautifully decorated tree in Racine.”