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Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Guidry

Career Information (Past, Present or Future)

I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of West Florida and an MIS from the University of Arkansas. I have 40 years of experience doing a variety of computer science and project management assignments in corporate America with stints at Texas Instruments, Phillips Petroleum, and Tyson Foods.

I currently have a small woodworking business building anything that interests me – mainly cabinetry. In the future, I plan to focus on custom contemporary furniture.

 

Hobbies/Activities/Interests

In 2018, I was focused on both assembling parts and building a 60”x 60” CNC (computer numerical control) mill for my woodworking shop. This will open up many new avenues of woodworking. It is a perfect match of my computer science and woodworking interests. I am very happy with the capabilities of the machine. My first project with the CNC was to build a new podium for Trinity Grace Church featuring an 18” Celtic knot embossed in the front. The CNC came in very handy for that task!

 

Favorite artwork or space at the museum

My volunteer focus is on the Bachman-Wilson House. I became interested in Frank Lloyd Wright architecture during my 25 years in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Going into the Price Tower became a common occurrence since my doctor had his practice there for several years.  Later, Phillips Petroleum occupied the facility for many more years. We also visited the Usonian residence known as Hillside, although at that time I was not aware of the significance of Usonian. Within the museum, besides the huge laminated beams and general architecture, I enjoy the landscape paintings the most.  

 

How did you learn about the museum and what prompted you to get involved?

When my wife Andrea and I first moved to the area, we saw the Crystal Bridges mock-up at XNA and then began keeping track of the construction progress during walks on the west side trail. Andrea became a Gallery Guide with the second class of guides. We used the trails often for our walks and loved the landscaping around the museum.

 

In what ways have you been involved as a volunteer with the museum thus far?

I primarily give house tours but also enjoy doing “Ask Me” duties, often when I am just visiting the museum and see someone looking at the house or architecture I’ll join their conversation and see how I might enrich their experience. We also have volunteered for events like Black Hearts Ball or NEW 365 – such fun times!

 

What keep you coming back to volunteer?

The people who manage / administer the volunteer services make you feel so important. Also, the other guides each have interesting stories and interests of their own. It is such a growing experience being involved in the museum.

 

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

I have met some of the most interesting people from all over the country who have visited the museum. All of them have so much to share that they make it easy for you to share your knowledge of the museum art, architecture, and nature.

 

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with the museum?

We considered returning to Pensacola FL, my hometown, when I retired. Seeing what Crystal Bridges has done for the community changed those plans. We now consider Northwest Arkansas our home. We still love the beaches around Pensacola and now will visit them whenever we need a beach break.

 

Do you have a funny or inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?  Please share with us!

On one of my house tours the guest was a retired architecture professor from the University of Tennessee currently living in Chattanooga. He was comparing the differences and likenesses between Bachman Wilson House and the Seamour and Gerte Shavin House, a USONIAN house in Chattanooga. I was starting to feel like I had little to share with him regarding our house that he did not already know. Finally I said, “You know, if it wasn’t for the Seamour house the Bachman Wilson house would not have been build”. “How so?” said he. Then I relayed the story about Marvin Bachman, an apprentice of Wright who was killed in an automobile accident during the first year of the Seamour house construction. During the summer of 1952, Marvin’s sister, Gloria, and her husband, Dr. Abraham Wilson visited Seamour and Gerte Shavin and helped them move into their new home. On the drive back to New Jersey, the couple decided to commission Wright to design the Bachman-Wilson House. The rest is just more Crystal Bridges making history.

 

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Crystal Bridges?

There is no other volunteer opportunity like Crystal Bridges. You will grow in your knowledge and appreciation of art, architecture, and nature. You life will be enriched by the people you meet and you will enrich their stories too. You can find no other organization that shows they appreciate their volunteers like the people involved at Crystal Bridges.

 

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