In Arts & Entertainment

You can help curate the next show at RAM by voting for your favorite works.

In Arts & Entertainment

No one is surprised Carol Cohen's "Little Compton" is running away with the popular vote.

Cast your vote at Racine Art Museum

We're a voting people. And we don't start and stop at presidents and senators. No, we vote in the battle between Coke and Pepsi, we pop out millions of tiny circles to select MLB all-stars, and we text and text and text to pick the next "American Idol."

So, why not vote for art?

The Racine Art Museum – which at 10 years old now boasts the largest contemporary crafts collection in these United States – is celebrating its first decade by asking patrons to pick their 10 favorite works. Those pieces will then be exhibited in a show alongside complementary works selected by curators Lena Vigna and Bruce Pepich.

Voting opened June 1 and runs through Sept. 1. You can vote via paper ballot or text message, but you can't vote online.

"(Bruce and I) pulled around 100 works from the collection that we have in the first gallery and then the two small galleries," says Vigna. "Only things (in the) collection. Here is how we picked. With 8,000 objects you have to start with something. So we picked works that the public responded to. Bruce and I sat at a table and had lots and lots of conversations about it. And when we pulled together a list of the collections, it's a massive list so it was a long and drawn-out process."

Despite the fact that the RAM collection now boasts more than 8,000 objects, Vigna – who assures me that she and Pepich have no side bets going – says a few things rose right to the top.

"At a minimum, a quarter of what we were dealing with we knew for sure," she says. "And then there were instances when we thought that an artist that represents something significant in the collection, but we have a lot of artists with multiple works, so then we would have to decide which one."

One of those "gimmes" was Carol Cohen's 1997 glass and enamel "Little Compton," which jumps right out at visitors from its primo placement in the museum's first gallery. That the work has proved popular has come as a surprise to no one.

At the time of writing, "Little Compton" boasted a whopping 28 percent of the votes. In a second place tie were Dale Chihuly's "Salmon and Rose Persian Set" and "Blue Conical" by Harvey K. Littleton, each with five percent.

Though Vigna says a few of the top vote getters have come as a bit of a surprise to her and Pepich, the success of "Little Compton" is definitely not a shock.

"She has been the leader since the beginning," says Vigna. "I have this theory from working at a variety of institutions. People like things that surprise them. I think the Carol Cohen (work) appeals to people because they don't see the figure right away, and then they are like, "What? Wow!" It's really compelling to them."

A leaderboard, showing updated vote totals is on the RAM website.

RAM printed about 2,400 ballots and just under 2,000 folks had voted when I visited in mid-August.

"It's not hundred or thousands of people voting. But the people that are voting are super serious about doing it, says Vigna. "Those who are voting are taking their time to vote. (We) often see people who have written down several different names. We see people come in, and go from piece to piece. It's been interesting."

Jessica Z. Schafer, who works in the museum's marketing department, is the one tallying the votes. She's found the process intriguing.

"We have a guy that comes every first Friday and writes 'Abstain' on the ballot. People have come in and are almost upset that they can't pick more than one piece."

Top 10 at 10: Favorites from RAM's Collection runs through Oct. 6.


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