Current and former interns of the Williamson Gallery get into the spirit of the evening.
Of Venice, Robert Benchly famously wrote: “Streets flooded. Please advise.”
On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Claremont streets were bone dry, though the corridors of Bridges Auditorium were flooded with both Scripps Collectors’ Circle (SCC) members and the artwork they were viewing. The theme was a black-and-white Venetian ball. The goal: to increase the College’s art collection by numerous works of distinction. An 17th-century Japanese pickled plum jar; a print of Frederick Douglass by Jacob Lawrence; and a photo of Frida Kahlo by Lola Alvarez Bravo were among the works considered.
The Scripps collection 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. The patrons of this event–Danielle and Eric Haskell, Mary ’70 and Sperry MacNaughton, Ruth Owades ’66, Carolyn ’72 and Robert Wagner, and Mary ’66 and Fritz Weis–generously took over the expenses, thereby ensuring that all membership fees would be used exclusively toward the purchase of works.
The Venetian evening in black-and-white was the inspiration of SCC event organizers Mary Weis, Eric Haskell and Mary MacNaughton. The marble foyer of Bridges Auditorium made a perfect setting for the dinner, and several of Bridges’ most beautiful spaces were used as the site of various activities. The evening began in the theater, where Williamson Gallery Director Mary MacNaughton introduced a group of presenters, all current or former Scripps interns. Each student brought forward the merits of “her” work of art, and supplied convincing arguments to persuade SCC members to vote to add the piece to the Scripps collection. In addition, art conservation major Josie Ren described the tasks conservation students had completed on the restoration of the Shakespeare relief panels with Conservator Donna Williams at Williams’ studio.
SCC members view the artworks.
A wonderful surprise occurred just as the members began dinner. Michael (HMC ’64) and Sharon Blasgen ’64 donated funds that would ensure the continuation of conservation work on the Shakespeare relief panel, The Merchant of Venice, and its safe transport back home to Scripps, as well as the start of renovation on the next panel to be conserved. The burst of energy from the Blasgen’s gift boosted the voting into high gear, with many works chosen that will both enhance the collection and support the education of our students.
The evening ended on a high note: Artist Elizabeth Turk ’83 offered to donate a marble sculpture on the condition that the SCC vote to fund Turk internships for four years (two this year, two at a later Collectors’ Circle gathering). Early on, the group voted in favor of supporting two years of internships, as per Turk’s request. However, in a surprise move at the close of the event, a number of members donated funds to cover the other two years. Those members were: Nick Boone; Laurie ’59 and Bart Brown; Joanne ’63 and Dennis Keith; Mary and Sperry MacNaughton ’70; Suzanne Muchnic ’62; and Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin. Thanks to their generosity, the SCC members as a whole and Elizabeth Turk, the sculpture, Cage 13.5, is now part of the Scripps collection.
With the artworks secured in a glittering group, the candlelight sparkling on the marble walls of Bridges, music wafting through the air, and dancers gathering as diners lingered over coffee, one might agree with Shelley’s enthusiastic observation: “Venice, its temples and palaces did seem like fabrics of enchantment.”
The following works were purchased through the generosity of the Scripps Collectors’ Circle:
LARGE BOWL, ca. 1680-1710, Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear colorless glaze, Arita ware, Japan, Saga prefecture, 19 ¾ x 4 inches
PRESENTATION JAR FOR PICKLED PLUMS, 1776-1800, Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear colorless glaze, Arita ware, Saga prefecture, Japan, Hiekoba kiln, 9 ¾ x 9 1/2 inches (image: floral detail)
AURA by Claire van Vliet
PORNTIP SANGVANICH, Untitled #4, 2016, Glazed Earthenware, 5.5 x 19 x 13.25 inches
JOHN GREGORY, Shakespeare Relief, The Merchant of Venice, c. 1932, plaster of paris
(Removal of overpaint, cleaning and sealing, reinstallation)
Collectors’ Circle members added this image of Frida Kahlo to the Scripps collection.
LOLA ÁLVAREZ BRAVO, Frida with Dry Tree Branches, Coyoacan, 1943, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches
LOLA ÁLVAREZ BRAVO, The Dream of the Poor, 2, 1949, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches
MARIANA YAMPOLSKY, Mujeres mazahua (Mazahua Women), 1989, gelatin silver print
ELIZABETH TURK ’83, Cage 13.5, 2013-2015, marble, 4 x 12 x 18 1/4 inches
WORKS ON PAPER
JACOB LAWRENCE, Douglass No. 21 from The Frederick Douglass Series, 1938-9, serigraph
The Gallery thanks student presenters: Milena Rose Carothers, Mary Chawaga, Anna Ghadar, Madeline Helland, Gilian Holzer, Josephine Ren, Elizabeth Wickham, and Laura Woods.
Michael Whalen and Cage 13.5 by Elizabeth Turk
Photo by Allegra Cox
Image: Lola Álvarez Bravo, Frida with Dry Tree Branches, Coyoacan, 1943, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches
Feature Image: Elizabeth Turk ’83, Cage 13.5, 2013-2015, marble, 4 x 12 x 18 1/4 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.