Agnes Payne, Director, I moved to Oshkosh in 2014 from Chicago. Immediately upon arriving here, I met Martha Reischl and Kit Pollaski from Jambalaya Arts who were very interested in creating a cultural fine arts center. I figured, and knew, that their experience will be instrumental in creating this project as a volunteer. Because of my extensive experience in the Cultural Fine Arts, this project intrigued me. Residing in a metropolitan area gave me the opportunity to become professionally, socially and personally involved with people of different nationalities and cultures. As an African-American these experiences were a learning experience. My educational career in the Fine Arts opened the door for me to experience dance, film, multi-arts, music (different genres) theater (Shakespeare) architecture, photography and most all the educational programs at all the cultural and educational museums in Chicago. Such as the Polish Museum, Irish Museum, Mexican-American Museum, DuSable Museum, Swedish Museum, Puerto Rican Museum, Native American, etc. I was definitely on board.
Also, I worked with Hubbard Street Dance, DePaul University and Columbia College in their photography programs, Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfionetta, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Pegusus Players. Children International Film Festival, as well as attending performances of Dance Africa: Blessing of the Drums, Godspell and Harlem Renaissance. Working with The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois Alliance for Arts truly opened many doors for me to attend workshops and learn how to apply the arts to all situations, nationalities and cultures. All of these organizations helped my artistic and cultural development. While teaching the Fine Arts, emphasis was placed on my students who were from many different backgrounds to learn and appreciate the Fine Arts as well as other cultures by understanding the role of the arts in the past and present civilizations, Not just for them to learn art skills, but to have them analyze how the arts reflect and function in history, society and everyday life. My background as a librarian assisted me in more ways than one.
I have had the privilege of working at a school being the first African-American with students from many different cultural or ethnic groups. From this each student had the opportunity to learn the history and tradition of their own culture as well others, too. The most rewarding thing was families from different cultures inviting me into their homes to experience their celebrations and holidays. Because of the support of students, parents, faculty and the Arts community in Chicago, I won in 2002 the NCEA, Heart of the School award in The Arts. And was recognized Who's Who Among America's Teachers 2005.
We are looking forward to presenting the Cultural Fine Arts Center/Museum into Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We feel that this would be an addition to the Art culture that already exist in this city. And we are looking forward to working with public and private schools in Oshkosh, as well as groups and people in this city to enhance our artistic community and embrace families of different cultural backgrounds and from many nationalities. My experience taught me that the Arts teaches people how art and culture can have a positive impact on the human environment and they begin to value Art and nationalities. People truly getting to know each other cultures and nationalities brings unity, togetherness and understanding. This is a plus for a city which is now dealing directly with diversity. This is great and the rewards will be amazing and incredible. Surrounding ourselves with the right individuals and organizations will make this a success. When we come together, that is when it works. Currently, we are associated with Arts Wisconsin. We have a plan in place that incorporates the Cultural Fine Arts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The idea was a center but after much input from people outside and within the arts community the plan became a center/museum.
The jazz society was really a winner, too. While in a meeting with our Jazz committee, Mike Melvoin, a native of Oshkosh, name was mentioned, his accomplishments and the impact that he had in the music industry while residing in California was phenomenal. He was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. He served as chairman and president of the Recording Academy and worked as an outstanding studio musician, recording with Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, The Jackson Five, Natalie Cole and others. Melvoin was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Jazz instrumental Solo. So, it was an honor to name Oshkosh Jazz Society after him. Erin Boheme, member of the Jazz Committee , Concord Label artist and Oshkosh native, was instrumental in naming the Jazz society after Melvoin. Our plan is to have a space within the museum for the Mike Melvoin Jazz Society. We will showcase past and present jazz performers from Oshkosh and surrounding areas who has had national and international acclaim and who currently are performing and introducing jazz in the Fox Valley and surrounding areas. The jazz festival will be an annual event as well as other events focusing on multiculturalism. We are having a Juried Art Show and the theme is MULTICULTURALISM. Please contact us, if you would like to be involved in our endeavors. We are looking forward to your participation and support!!!
Ms. Payne holds a Bachelors degree from DePaul University, (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Society, Diploma In Hotel and Motel Management from County Schools, a diploma in Classical Piano and Drama from Paul La Pierre School of Music. Was photographed for the Oshkosh and Winnebago County 2017 & 2018 Visitors Guide. As a jazz stylish she received reviews from Jazz Times, Jazz South, MIami Times, Players Magazine and USA Today. Agnes is a community coordinator, educator ( Fine Arts & Computer teacher, Librarian) and an organizer of festivals and events and a housing consultant dealing with tenant organizations as well as tenant homeownership.