Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 9:34am

We are sharing, with sadness, the death of the artist Elise Winters, a good friend of the Racine Art Museum (RAM) and an artist whose work we are archiving in the museum’s permanent collection.

The Rochester, New York, native was born in 1947 and Winters’ early career was as an artist and teacher working in the media of ceramics and photography in New Jersey. However, it was her participation in the polymer medium, where she worked as an artist, educator, and advocate beginning in the mid-1990s, for which she is known nationally and internationally. Winters began experimenting with this oven-curing clay-like material at that time and became one of a number of individuals, with professional art training, who explored the possibilities that this medium held for creating decorative arts objects and handmade jewelry. Winters’ unique wearable pieces were part of a national movement among artists to explore the use of unexpected and non-precious materials, in unusual forms and scale, for the creation of personal adornment. 

As an indicator of her career recognition, Winters’ artwork now resides in the permanent art jewelry and decorative arts collections of six major US museums, including: the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA, Boston); the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey; the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), Philadelphia; the Racine Art Museum (RAM), Racine, Wisconsin; and the Mingei International Museum, San Diego.

Those wishing to make donations in Winters’ honor should consider a contribution to the Oncology Department of the Englewood Hospital, or to the Racine Art Museum, in Racine, Wisconsin

Elise Winters Full Obituary

Polymer Art Archive 
Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads exhibition at the Racine Art Museum
How Polymer Hit the Big Time | American Craft Magazine 2012


Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2019 - 11:38am

We note, with sadness, the death of longtime RAM friend, Joan S. Patton, who died at her Racine home on November 24 at the age of 79. Joan helped this museum in many ways for more than 45 years but her greatest contribution was as one of the museum’s original Docents, serving from the group’s inauguration in 1982 until a few months ago.

Born in the Chicago suburbs, Joan came to Racine in 1967. Her first involvement with the museum was as part of a team of members of the Junior League of Racine, who inaugurated the Art Sales and Rental Gallery at the Wustum campus in the early 1970s. She also served a full six years on RAM’s Board of Directors in the 1990s.

Joan had a gift for treating children as equals in educational settings and for talking with and not to other people. This skill made her a great Docent, for she drew others to her who could tell she was excited to see what people could learn about art. In 1990, Joan earned a BA in Art from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. These studies gave her even greater insight into the visual art making process which she happily shared with others.

Joan was a legend in this community for her commitment to volunteerism through working for a number of organizations on a long-term basis. She did all of this with a great sense of humor, making her a delight to work with. We express our gratitude to Joan and extend our condolences to her family and friends.

The Joan S. Patton Memorial Fund has been established at RAM and your contributions in her memory are welcome.

To Learn More

Eulogy given by Bruce W. Pepich, RAM Executive Director and Curator of Collections

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 9:37am

Karen Johnson Boyd, age 91, of Racine, Wisconsin, passed away January 29, 2016, in her home following a brief illness. Born in Racine, Wisconsin, May 16, 1924, she was a lifelong resident of Racine and of Cable, Wisconsin. Throughout her life, Mrs. Boyd has been an advocate for visual artists and arts institutions across the country. She is especially remembered as a major figure in the contemporary craft field, assembling one of the country’s most respected collections of this material.

To learn more about this philanthropic Racine native

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 9:35am

We sadly acknowledge the death, earlier this fall, of Wisconsin artist Warrington Colescott who died at his home in Hollandale, near Madison on September 10. He was 97. Colescott was a greatly admired member of Wisconsin’s visual arts community from the time he came here to teach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1949 until his death. He was known internationally for his work in the etching medium and for creating beautifully drawn satirical prints that commented on the political and social issues of his time. He was also known for making series of graphics devoted to specific subjects, including Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, John Dillinger, and the history of printmaking. In this way he recalled great graphic artists who preceded him including William Hogarth, Honoré Daumier, and Thomas Nast.

Colescott’s work influenced subsequent generations by its inclusion in exhibitions and museum collections around the world. During his 37 years on the UW faculty, he became part of a group of artist/teachers who created a famed center for printmaking at the Madison campus that has nurtured multiple generations of students. These likeminded souls included his wife, the artist and Racine native, Frances Myers who died in 2014. Colescott’s work can be found in the major print collections of many museums around the world. His work, which we have featured in numerous exhibitions at both of our campuses since 1975, is represented in RAM’s permanent collection by over 90 examples dating from 1961 through 2000. 

Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 11:18am

We note with sadness the death of longtime RAM friend, George T. Jacobi, who died in Milwaukee on September 15 at the age of 96. George served on RAM’s Board of Directors for two consecutive terms and continued as an at-large member of the museum’s Accessions and Exhibitions Committee for a period of more than 20 years as we developed and opened RAM. 

Born in Manheim, Germany, George came to New York in 1940 and served in the US Army’s Signal Corps during World War II. He received his MS in Electrical Engineering at Ohio State University, becoming an accomplished engineer. He worked for General Electric for 11 years, receiving three patents and developing the first transistorized computer for the banking industry. After serving as Director, Computer and Management Research at the Illinois Institute of Technology he was hired by Johnson Controls in 1977 where he worked until 1993, retiring as Corporate Vice President-Technology.

George was a true Renaissance man. He could speak well on any topic and was known as a great supporter of the arts. In addition to his work at RAM, George was President of the Board of Florentine Opera and a Board member of Present Music and the Next Door Foundation in Milwaukee. George was prized as a Board member because of his knowledge and the way he shared this with others, always sprinkled with a solid dose of good humor and dry wit. We express our gratitude to him and extend our condolences to his wife Angela—herself a former RAM Board member who served beside George on our Accessions Committee—and his family and friends. 

The George T. Jacobi Fund has been established at RAM and contributions are welcome.

Posted on Monday, June 4, 2018 - 2:57pm

We are saddened to announce the death of internationally recognized handbag designer Judith Leiber at her home in East Hampton, New York on April 28 at the age of 97. Mrs. Leiber died just hours after the death of her husband of 72 years, the painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Gerson Leiber who also died at their home. They both died of natural causes and were buried together on April 30. Mrs. Leiber has been affiliated with RAM since 2004 when we hosted the only Midwest venue of the popular 2002 traveling retrospective of her work organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. 

Judith Leiber’s name became synonymous with high style and the red carpet for her crystal-encrusted handmade metal evening bags, created in whimsical shapes, which were frequently seen in the company of celebrities from all fields. Leiber bags were also carried by numerous first ladies to their husbands’ inaugural galas, beginning with Mamie Eisenhower. With a zest for life and a sense of humor, Mrs. Leiber designed bags devoted to every subject and topic imaginable. Her works are represented in numerous museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and in RAM’s art to wear collection. People collect Leiber bags as works of art and frequently display them accordingly in their homes.

The Leibers were a tight-knit couple who built complementary careers—he, as an American-born artist and she, a Hungarian native who narrowly evaded the Holocaust. Mrs. Leiber eventually rose to receive most of the fashion industry’s major prizes. She created five collections a year and completed about 100 designs, most of which were included in her show at RAM. She said she was inspired by paintings, historic artifacts, and nature. Mr. Leiber was also a noted landscape designer who turned their property on Long Island into a much-sought-after spot for anyone seriously interested in studying formal gardens.  

In 2008, they opened the Leiber Collection on their Long Island property. The gallery they built has housed exhibitions of both their work and that of other artists. Mr. Leiber’s work can be found in many museum collections including that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Whitney Museum. 

While Judith Leiber was famed for her gold-plated hard-case evening bags (minaudières), she excelled at fitting leather, a skill readily displayed in her beautifully detailed daytime bags. All of her work is incredibly well-crafted and was made in her atelier in the US. Mrs. Leiber served as her firm’s “Inspector 12.” No bag left the floor without being personally inspected by her, until the Leibers sold their business in 1993. For many years, Mr. Leiber would deliver his wife’s bags, picking up each order late in the day and carrying the boxes to the appropriate department store on a New York City transit bus. These two, who initially met on the street in Budapest where Mr. Leiber was stationed at the end of World War II, were indeed, kindred spirits. In recent years, both Leibers were honored with retrospective exhibitions in New York and we join in honoring their accomplishments and contributions to the fields of fine art and fashion.

For more about her career, please read:

Article in The New York Times

Article in Vogue

Article in Harper’s Bazaar