(Part 1) Wisconsin veterans have a rich and storied history, one that is worth capturing and protecting for future generations. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an organization that does just that -- through a combination of oral history, visual arts, and asset preservation. Join us as we chat with Curator of Veteran Art and US Army veteran Yvette Pino.
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Intro & Outro Themes:
Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)
Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)
Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. It's still arts month here at the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. And we are still talking about the , uh, the awesome power of the arts, visual arts of dramatic arts, musical arts spoken word , uh, you know, everything in between. Um, but part of this, part of the reason why , uh, it's, this is valuable in veterans, military family members , uh, journey towards peace and healing and, and reintegration into society after service is , uh , it's rooted in storytelling. It gives these service members the opportunity to tell their story. Now, one way that you can capture those stories is through art, through music or whatever, but also through storytelling through , uh , through acquiring an oral history, Wisconsin has a great organization based in Madison called the Wisconsin veterans museum. And this place is incredible. I was just there for the first time, myself, not too long ago, they , their staff is awesome. Everybody there is awesome. And the facility is spec and they do a really good job of telling the story of veterans, Wisconsin, veterans throughout history, and they do it using a variety of mediums. They use visual art, they take extensive oral history like a mile long. Um, it's just a great play . You gotta check it out. But today's guest , uh, is the curator of veteran art for the Wisconsin veterans museum. That's a heck of a position. She's also a service member herself. And I'm very curious to see we're gonna find out together how her journey took her to become a curator of veteran art and what that really means and what, what is what's entailed in that and how she uses her position and her expertise to share veterans stories, to help them and others on their path towards recovery and reintegration. It's really interesting stuff. I'm excited to get into it. We're gonna get into it right after this. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran own owned and veteran-friendly businesses, Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of firstname.lastname@example.org . Introducing my good friend. AVET Pino . How are you?Speaker 2:
I am well, thank you for having me, Adam,Speaker 1:
You betcha. What is that art behind you?Speaker 2:
Uh, this is let's see, which, where do I go? This is , uh , a painting of mine. It's called self-portrait Iraq years . So, right, right. When I got out of the military, I went back to art school and , and , uh, took a painting class and decided to use , we had to do a portrait, a self-portrait using non-traditional methodology. So those are my boots that I used while I in Iraq painting murals out in Iraq. I'll talk about that a little bit, butSpeaker 1:
Sure. Yeah. Well, let's, let's, let's get there. I mean, I , uh , how do you become, I mean, did you grow up and you were like, you know, when I grow up, I want to be a curator of veteran art or like, did your journey, how did your journey take shape to bring you to that?Speaker 2:
Uh , funny enough, I didn't necessarily say I wanna be a curator of veteran art, but I always tell this story when I was five years old, my , I got a , a birthday card from a , a friend of my mom's and it , it had all , uh , when I grew up, I wanna be, and it had all these little options with check marks and , uh, at five years old, I checked off my own box that said , and I wrote other, and then I wrote, I wanna be an artist and a book writer. And I, I , uh, I have been published and I am an artist. And I think that as you talked about in the intro, the idea of storytelling is really the foundation of the work I do. And so I think even though I didn't know what a curator was as a little kid, that was where my brain was at. Um, it's my goal now to actually help kids who in school understand the roles in the museum world , because we don't, as a kid, we don't know what a curator is. We don't know what a registrar is at a museum or a collections manager, and you might be really well suited for that and not even know that's your journey. So I think I've predicted it.Speaker 1:
That's something we could talk about for a long, long time, cuz you know, I , I kind of , I have a , a history in the arts myself , uh, that, you know, when kids are, you know, we , we , we support our kids as they're growing up and, and, and , uh, try to give them opportunities in the arts. Cause we know it's enriching, you know, painting and taking piano lessons and uh, doing musicals and plays and whatnot . But a lot of times we society in general, doesn't see that like there's more opportunities out there than just like, well, you're gonna play piano until you're a famous concert pianist. Right . Or you're gonna, you know, the , the end goal for doing musicals in high school is to a movie star. Like there's so much else out there that is in those different worlds and ecosystem. So I , I think that's something that we could talk about for forever and ever. But I think it's the coolest thing that like first off you wrote your own box in. Yeah . <laugh> instantly, you're like, you know what? I do not wanna be confined by this. I'm gonna put my own box , I'm gonna write other, I'm gonna be an artist and I'm gonna book be a book writer. I think that's awesome. And second you , you made it happen. So if that was your dream, why the military?Speaker 2:
I actually, my, I come from a military family . My dad was in the army and I've just got a lot of family members. You know, my granny had the wall of fame with all the different servicemen pictures. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I was proudly the first female that made it to the wall. Uh , I wasn't the first female in our family to serve, but I was the first female that made it to granny's wall.Speaker 1:
Okay . Uh ,Speaker 2:
So I was really proud of my basic training picture, but , um, I, I had wanted to serve early on , uh , and the air force I wasn't at , at the weight they wanted me to be at early on, but I , I moved forward onto a professional career in theater and I was a stage hand and I had a really good career off Broadway, but I wasn't making a lot of money. And so I , I knew to supplement my income and I , I originally , uh , went to join the reserves. Uh , one of the theaters I was doing overhire workforce. So I'd work through the night building sets in Hartford, Connecticut. And , uh, there was a recruiter's office on the lobby floor and the theater was in the basement of this big high rise in Hartford. So I'm working four jobs trying to figure out how to make ends meet. And I finally had just kind of had it one day after my third overnight shift and went to the recruiter's office and said, can you help me out? And , uh, they, they were gonna help me out a little bit. I was really naive thinking how that would supplement my, because I , I don't know how I thought, you know, joining army reserves was really gonna help out, but , uh , knowing what, what I made in national guard further down the road, but , um, uh, I , I signed up and, and had to lose some weight and, and in the interim nine 11 happened . So I , I actually ended up on active duty rather than just reserves and walked away from my theater career.Speaker 1:
Okay . So that was probably unexpected. And then, so youSpeaker 2:
Definitely the theater world for sure. Yeah. <laugh> yeah .Speaker 1:
So you get, so you get activated, you, you become , uh, uh , active, is it AGR active reserve status or, or you just full blown , active duty?Speaker 2:
Yeah. I switched paths. I, I told them no more reserves. I wanna go active duty all in . So I switched to , um , signing up full time . And , uh, you know, at the time I , I say I walked away from my theater career. It was sort of at a transitional where I couldn't advance anymore without higher education. So , uh, there was a little of the stereotypical went in for the GI bill money. Um, but I went in for active duty.Speaker 1:
Were you able to do art or at least stay connected to art or theater or those passions while you were in the military? Or, or is it something that manifested later?Speaker 2:
It , it manifested a little later. I did. I think I might have told you the story, but I did sign up because I was at stage hand , I was looking for a role in the military knowing that USO tours and that there were different types of , uh , entertainment with the , in the military ranks. And , uh, the only thing that was available in my research was the band. And I , there is a technician MOS in the band, but the , the , uh , recruiter asked me what instrument I played. And I kept trying to convince them that I was the technology side of it. <laugh> and I found, I found out around though that, that, you know, all of the band members do their own tech. And so that might be a secondary MOS, but it's not one that you just sign up to be the sound tech of the band. So I , I wasn't able to join and I wanted to do combat documentary.Speaker 1:
Okay .Speaker 2:
Um , and that wasn't available to me. I wish I would've known about the Marine Corps as a , a Marine artist role. I think you have to be as anything in the military you get in, and then you get to be a , all those perks are available or, or specialty positions are available. Um, but I, I might have gone Marines just knowing there was actual combat artist role in, in the Marine Corps. It's a very historic ,Speaker 1:
That's really interesting. Yeah . I would assume that there's not a lot of them.Speaker 2:
No, it's like two or three. Um, and they have, like, I think maybe one civilian has done it, but it's a historic program that goes all the way back to world war . I , um, soSpeaker 1:
That's amazing.Speaker 2:
Uh , I'm , I , I may be misspeaking on world war. I , I think there were, I anyway, I can verify that, but , um, it's, I just know it's got a long standing tradition that I didn't know about until my current role as the curatorSpeaker 1:
Engineer . So, so you get out of the military and you're saying, what do I wanna do when I grow up? Like most people when , when we get out of the military , uh, and you're like, you know what? I remember that, that note card that I wrote the box in artist slash author, I'm going to art school . Is that kinda how that went down?Speaker 2:
Uh, interestingly enough , uh, we , you know, I didn't end up getting in the military art role, but I ended up becoming a cook for reasons I can go on into for, we , we don't have enough time today to discuss why I ended up becoming a cook. Um, but while we were in culinary school , uh , at a, I T they walked us through , uh, this world of culinary arts that I was not aware of. And there's actually competitive culinary arts teams in the military where you see these cooking shows like the, a bake off and chocolate sculpture , uh , yeah . Those exist in the military. And there's an annual international competition of military cooks and chefs that compete in the culinary arts. I haveSpeaker 1:
You're , you're teaching me all sorts of stuff that I didn't know today. That's incredible.Speaker 2:
Yeah. So at , at Fort Lee, they walk you through , uh , there's a giant, like life size chocolate sculptures of generals and butter sculptures. And I said , I wanna do that . Like , there's my art connection . It was like, oh , this relief , like , oh my gosh , I'll have to creative . So I was on the culinary arts team , uh, at Fort Campbell and was scheduled to compete. And we got deployed both times I was scheduled to compete. So the first time the, the entire competition got canceled because everybody deployed direct mm-hmm <affirmative> . And the second time , um, the competition didn't get canceled, but I Fort Campbell came on under orders again. So I got, I got , uh , I didn I didn't get to compete, but, but I became a chef and studied culinary arts. And then when I got outta the military, the idea was to become a chef. So I went to culinary arts school and became a pastry chef and worked for pucks with pucks restaurant in St . Louis . And then my arms gave out, I had some really bad , um, conditions in my arms. And , um , I , I had to quit my job because I couldn't hold anything anymore.Speaker 1:
Sure, sure.Speaker 2:
So at that led to , uh , uh , giving everything up and sitting on my couch, wondering what I was gonna do, and art school saved me.Speaker 1:
We're gonna continue this dialogue with a vet Pino from the Wisconsin veterans museum, the veteran art curator over there in the very next episode of Wisconsin veterans forward, it is already published and waiting there, or you see over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you, you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce, please visit email@example.com . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.