Journeys End in Art Lovers’ Meeting: The Annual Scripps Collectors’ Circle

SCC members voted to add many artworks, among them, Martha Graham, Letter to the World, The Kick, to the Scripps collection.

Ceramics, photography, Japanese paintings, artists’ books: A treasury of works awaited the members of the Scripps Collectors’ Circle at their recent annual gathering. Members had arrived to choose from these works for inclusion in the Scripps collection, which is used for teaching purposes both inside and outside of the classroom. The College has never had an art acquisition fund, and no tuition monies have ever been spent on art. While understandable, this practice has unfortunately left incomplete areas in the collections, hindering their function as a complement to the curriculum. Thus, the SCC was formed, with the mission of enhancing the collection.

However, this was no austere conclave, complete with copies of Robert’s Rules of Order and the clattering of gavels. In keeping with the intention of bringing the Scripps sense of  style to every element of the evening, SCC event organizers Mary Weis, Eric Haskell and Mary MacNaughton arranged to have some of the most beautiful settings at Scripps opened to the group, starting with the Garrison Performing Arts Center, where works up for consideration were on display. Members enjoyed tea and a leisurely viewing of the works before gathering in Boone Recital Hall for talks on the artwork by students. Mary MacNaughton introduced each of the presenters, many of whom were Scripps students majoring in Art History, Art Conservation or Studio Art. Every speaker went far beyond simply explaining the value of “her” work to the Scripps collection, energetically inviting members to join her in recognizing its merits, and building well conceived arguments in favor of the purchase of the piece.

Afterwards, members took a short, moonlit walk to Revelle House, the home of the President. There, members socialized at a drinks party that included a trio performing selections from the American Songbook. The party featured a signature libation, the “Shakespeare’s Relief” – a whimsical comment on a conservation project close to the hearts of many alumni: the restoration of the Shakespeare reliefs on the Scripps campus.

Shakespearean themes emerged again at the candlelit dinner that followed, shortly after President Lori Bettison-Varga opened the event with a warm welcome to all. Two actors appeared, giving a humorous interpretation of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. With that, voting commenced. Moderated by Eric Haskell, members marked ballots for their favorite works, often conferring with others during the breaks between rounds to lobby for the works they most wanted included in the collection.

This year, the event was underwritten through the generosity of Francine and Bill Baker, Brent and Susan Maire, and Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin, thereby ensuring that all membership fees were used exclusively toward the purchase of works. As the evening progressed and funds began to run low, Jane (SCR ’64) and Michael Wilson surprised the group by offering to match funds after the initial membership fees had been spent. The members responded with enthusiasm. Linda Davis Taylor, Chair of the Board of Trustees, gave the closing comments, observing that the Wilsons’ gesture and the members’ response ended the evening on a high note. Not only were the conservation projects for Seal Pond and the Shakespeare reliefs given support, but every piece submitted for inclusion was purchased, enriching the Scripps collection with an abundance of works that will greatly enhance the collection, and the education of our students.

The following works were purchased through the generosity of the Scripps Collectors’ Circle:


JAPANESE  18TH CENTURY ALBUM, Tale of Genji , Unsigned, Tosa School Style,  Japanese, 18th c.

KUSAKABE KINBEI, Photo album of Japan Life, c. 1900, 50 images


The Little River by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Michael Kuch.

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea, Debra Magpie Earlingillustrated by Peter Rutledge Koch


SUSAN BEINER, Urban Heap, 2011, porcelain, wood, kanthol wire, foam, thread, acrylic rod, rubber, 18 x 23 x 16

DAVID FURMAN, Atrapado Sin Salida, 1986, low-fire clay, underglaze, 16.5 x 11.5 x 14.5

STEVE HEINEMANN, Slipper, 2012, earthenware, multiple firings, 17 x 5 x 4


JOHN GREGORY, Shakespeare Relief, The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet, c. 1932, plaster of paris



ROMARE BEARDEN, Falling Star, 1980, lithograph 79/125

PHILIP LATIMER DIKE , Untitled, park in France, 1931, watercolor on paper


BARBARA MORGAN, Martha Graham, Letter to the World, The Kick, 1940, printed circa 1986, gelatin silver print, 9 3/8 x 12 7/8 inches on 11 x 14 sheet

DOROTHEA LANGE, Squatters along highway near Bakersfield, CA. Penniless refugees from the Dust bowl. 1935, vintage silver print, 7 5/8 x 7 5/8 in.

LUCIENNE BLOCH, Frida in front of the Unfinished Unity Panel, New Worker’s School, New York, 1933, silver gelatin print on paper, 11 3/8 x 7 7/8

Image:  Barbara Morgan, Martha Graham, Letter to the World, The Kick, 1940, printed circa 1986, Gelatin silver print, 9 3/8 x 12 7/8 inches on 11 x 14 sheet       ©Barbara Morgan, The Barbara Morgan Archive