Eric just received his order from American Frame. He seems pleased.
“Started to unpack frames this a.m.” said an email from Eric email to Craig, American Frame’s senior manager of sales and service. “They look almost hand finished! The corners look amazing considering they are a cut and join. You guys never cease to amaze.”
Eric, a Wisconsin native, wasn’t always into art.
“In high school, I took AP physics instead of art class,” he says. “I stopped taking art classes as soon as it wasn’t required.” Then, during his time at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “I took a photography class. That was my first break into the arts.”
American Frame: How did you become a preparator?
Eric Hanson: When I transferred to the University of Arizona in Tucson, I took a class called museum studies. I also got a side job as a gallery attendant at the CCP, the Center for Creative Photography. It’s an amazing place that was started by Ansel Adams, among others. The CCP’s preparator-slash-designer needed help changing up exhibits and asked me if I wanted to help. He saw that I was meticulous, clean and that I paid attention to detail. He offered me a job.
After I graduated, I continued working at the CCP. I was the main design preparator. My supervisor left, so I took his job. I also worked at a small frame shop where we framed a lot of high-end artwork. People came from California and New Mexico to have their works framed by us. Two full time jobs allowed me to pay off my student loans in nearly two years.
Then, a headhunter told me about a position at the Amon Carter Art Museum for American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
How long were you at the Amon?
Three years. Up until then, my work was almost exclusively in photography and works on paper. The Amon had acquired a couple hundred thousand watercolors and needed someone with a background in photography to help with that.
What brought you back to Wisconsin?
When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get out of Wisconsin. Once I spent some time away, I realized I really liked Wisconsin. I wanted to come back, but preparator jobs were few and far between. It’s a difficult occupation and involves moving around a lot. I finally got a job at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
What kind of museum is the Kohler?
Historically, it focused on Wisconsin self-taught or environmental artists, those who simply had the compulsion to create artwork. Then they expanded and started presenting more contemporary works. They’re really big on contemporary and experimental artists and installations. I was there for 17 years.
About a year ago, I moved to the MOWA.