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Conversations with Wendy Adler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wendy Adler.

Hi Wendy, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I am a classically-trained musician (piano) and with a heavy courseload in college, I regretted never having had the time to take an art history class. Years later we were living in the DFW area and when my youngest son went off to college, I had some time on my hands and needed a good distraction. I had always volunteered in my kids’ schools, especially in their art programs, so it seemed like a good time to finally take an art history class. I went one better and became a Docent at The Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth – their training program was intense but SO wonderful! It ignited a passion for understanding art – why was something valued the way it was? Why was it hanging on a wall of a museum? Was there meaning to the scribbles or blobs of color? Fast forward to 2016 and we’ve moved to Houston. I’ve always been an entrepreneur, so I thought about a way to combine my love of art and my affection for working with senior citizens. I structured a lecture series about a very broad array of art, artists, art periods, etc. and began giving monthly presentations at various senior communities in the Houston area. Activities Directors loved having something a little different than the usual museum-sponsored talks, so I was hired at several places quickly. It’s really fun to create surprising and unusual topics, and the seniors are incredibly engaged and interested. Some of my topics have been “How The West Was Spun: Art of the American West” and “My Big Fat Greek Sculptures.” I’m in my seventh year of ARTiculating and besides my monthly sessions at a dozen senior communities, I lead tours of Houston museums, teach at the Women’s Institute of Houston, and lead monthly Art Salons at La Colombe d’Or (an art-centric boutique hotel). 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I would not have expected my talks to be as varied as they’ve become, but I find myself completely immersed in the research when I’m putting a new talk together. My presentations are mostly “old school,” meaning that I don’t use technology and Power Point – I buy large posters of art reproductions, have them mounted, and use them for my examples. The price and availability of the posters has become very expensive and difficult to find – that’s become my biggest challenge. My stepfather has built me some amazing storage racks for all of my supplies – at this point, I have a full art library of old books and over 400 mounted posters! I expected a ‘struggle’ to be convincing some of the seniors to be open-minded to some of the funkier art I talk about, but I love how eager they are to understand why a piece of art is significant. Seniors may have aging issues, but they have so much knowledge and interest in learning new things – it’s truly inspiring! I’m an eternal optimist so it takes a lot to throw me off the path. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
ARTiculating Talks & Tours provides upbeat and unique presentations about a wide variety of art, artists, and art periods – art is so much more enjoyable when you’re given context! My talks and tours are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their age or art knowledge. I think that I have a unique perspective on presenting the information and I talk about art in the way that I’d want to hear about it – not in a date-filled, dry and scripted manner like some docents deliver. The supreme compliment for me is when a client tells me that they learned something wonderful from one of my talks, or that the museum they’ve been through a hundred times now looks different to them thanks to my tour. 

What were you like growing up?
Though I was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, my family moved to Santa Maria, CA when I was 12… a “Green Acres” culture shock, to be sure. The first time my mother picked me up from the airport, she was driving a PICKUP TRUCK?!?!?! School was easy for me, so my parents started me on piano lessons at age 6 as a challenge. I took to it immediately, majoring in Piano Performance and Music Business at University of Pacific During college, I had been a balloon-twisting entertainer at a local restaurant to help pay for school and the money had been great. Upon graduation, I decided to set up an agency to provide balloon-twisting entertainers to restaurants and events, training mostly college students and fearlessly approaching restaurant chains to use our services. My naivete served me well – it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t work out! – and my company, Balloonabilties, grew to employ seven full-time employees and over 200 balloon twisters over seven states. I think we were the biggest service business of our kind! This was before cell phones and Internet (yipes, I’m dating myself!) so it was a very hands-on management business. 

After owning the company for ten years and having my two sons, I decided it was time to move on. My brilliant husband helped me sell the business and I joked about being “retired at 32.” Lots of volunteering, piano accompanying, and schlepping my boys around made me a very happy and busy mom. And then ARTiculating began…… 

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