Look at the paperweight-shaped glass buttons that Portland, Ore., artist Greg Hanson creates and it’s not hard to trace his inspiration. The Appleton native was highly influenced by the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah. “The people of the Fox Valley don’t know what a gem they have,” Hanson said.
He was in town for the National Button Show. Who knew there was such a thing, much less that this was the third time Appleton was hosting it?
There was a time when prominent community benefactors lent their name and their wealth to major art institutions like the Bergstrom-Mahler, built in 1959 with support from two paper manufacturing executives. Today, those art institutions can be lost without wide public support. That was the message I heard when researching this story for our annual Report to the Community.
Hanson is an eclectic guy. Not only is he widely recognized for his art, he is a former traffic engineer and the guy who devised the timing of the traffic lights on College Avenue. He said that was guaranteed to ignite a conversation at a cocktail party.
Read his story, and four others about people touched by Community Foundation donors who took it upon themselves to move beyond the ME to strengthen the WE.
David Horst is communications specialist at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Email him at [email protected].