with THOMAS COLLINS, their Neubauer Family Executive Director & President. He presented a lecture entitled, “The Enduring Influence of Dr. Albert C. Barnes” on January 27, 2020.
A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Collins is an innovative educator and accomplished art historian, with more than 20 years of experience at some of America’s top arts institutions.
Mr. Collins earned his MA in Art History from Northwestern University and BA with honors in Art History and History of Religion from Swarthmore College.
He began his career as a Newhall Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 1994-1997. From 1998-2000 he was associate curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington. He held the chief curator position at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio from 2000-2003 and the Director of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland 2003-2005. He served five years as Director of the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York. Prior to joining the Barnes Foundation, Mr. Collins spent five years as Director of the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida.
He currently holds membership in the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Art Museum Curators, and the College Art Association.
We were thrilled to have him join us, virtually, from Pennsylvania.
President and CEO of OPERA America, a position he has held since 1990. During his tenure, Opera America has grown from 120 opera companies to nearly 2,500 organizations and individuals.
Under his leadership, Opera America has administered two landmark funding initiatives in support of the development of North American operas and opera audiences and launched a $20 million endowment effort to create a permanent fund dedicated to supporting new works and audience development activities.
Opera America’s relocation from Washington D.C. to New York City in December 2005 has increased communication and collaboration with and among members both locally and nationally.
A strong advocate of collaboration, Mr. Scorca has led several cross-disciplinary projects, including the Performing Arts Research Coalition, National Music Coalition and the National Performing Arts Convention in 2004 and 2008.
He is currently a member of the US delegation to UNESCO, and serves as an officer of the Board of the America Arts Alliance.
Mr. Scorca attended Amherst College where he graduated with high honors in both history and music. During this time, he held an internship at the Metropolitan Opera. Followed by positions at Opera Philadelphia and New York City as well as Chicago Opera Theater prior to joining Opera America.
We were pleased to welcome Mr. Scorca, joining us virtually on November 18, 2020, from his Covid safe haven in Vermont, to present a lecture entitled, “Opera’s Neglected Dimension: the Visual.” It detailed not only the auditory import of opera but also a history of its sets and sights. The visual components! Need we say more:)?
Our second speaker to bravely navigate the new world (for us, at least) of online VIRTUAL lectures was Melissa Conn, the Venice Director of Save Venice, Inc., an American non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for the conservation of art and architecture in Venice, Italy.
Save Venice, Inc. literally saves artwork from the ravages of salt, humidity, time and tide. For generations to come. No small task. One that Ms. Conn knows well.
Born and raised in Ohio, Ms. Conn received a degree in art history from Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She now has thirty-plus years of experience in the field of Venetian art history and conservation.
In 2015, as proof of the esteem with which Ms. Conn is held in her field, major contributors to Save Venice, Inc. offered her the opportunity to select a work for restoration. It would be restored not only in honor of Save Venice, Inc.’s revered art historian and Project Director, David Rosand, but in her name as well.
Realizing this choice bore a tremendous responsibility- how does one choose from among so many threatened masterworks- Conn err’d towards Mr. Rosand’s specialty, Titian, and choose one of the Italian Renaissance master’s works, “Saint Mark Enthroned,” for restoration.
Possibly Titian’s first independent commission, “Saint Mark Enthroned” is an altarpiece painted for the church of Santo Spirito, Isola, but moved to the sacristy of Santa Maria Della Salute in 1656, where it may be seen today in all of its restored glory.
During her lecture, Ms. Conn described the process of conservation in Venice, the destructive nature of rising tides particular to Venice, and discussed several sites yet to be addressed there and on the surrounding isles. During our Question and Answer period following the lecture, she generously weighed in on questions about Norfolk’s own problems with tide waters, particularly at the Chrysler Museum of Art.
We are deeply appreciative of Ms. Conn’s presentation for our second VIRTUAL lecture. It remains now for us to host her in person, here, in order that we learn more about how we, as supporters of art and culture in our own community, can preserve and maintain our own treasures.
Thank you so very much for your talk, Ms. Conn.
(photo credit thanks to Save Venice, Inc. unless otherwise noted)
We were excited to host Peter J. Schertz on Wednesday, 23 September, as not only our first speaker of the 2020-21 season but also the first NSA speaker to “go virtual,” due to Covid19 health concerns.
He was a willing and able test subject as we premiered our virtual platform for lectures. He offered us not only a compelling virtual lecture on the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts‘ exhibit of items recovered from forgotten, sunken cities in the Nile delta, but also engaged directly with viewers in a question and answer period following his lecture through questions emailed to the moderator and posed to him directly.
Dr. Schertz received his PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Southern California and his BA in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago.
Among his projects at the VMFA are an in-depth study of the museum’s statue of Caligula, including a digital reconstruction of the statue’s original colors, as well as the exhibition and catalogue “The Horse in Ancient Greek Art”. He has also published on the “Temple of Herod in Jerusalem” and the “Arch of Titus in Rome.”
For his NSA lecture, Dr. Schertz spoke on a VMFA exhibition, open June 2020- January 2021, “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities.”
Some twelve hundred years ago, two cities, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus sank into Egypt’s Aboukir Bay. Once vibrant centers of international trade and the sites of major religious sanctuaries, these cities lay virtually forgotten until their rediscovery in 1996 by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio. In excavating these cities, Goddio found not only evidence of the an ancient multi-cultural port city but also evidence of religious ceremonies, especially the annual celebration of the Mysteries of Osiris, the most important festival of the Egyptian year. Mr. Schertz’s talk focussed on the exhibition of Goddio’s finds at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, providing a behind the scenes look at the installation of nearly 300 objects most of them recovered from beneath the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
His program was organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and supported, in part, by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.
Our speaker on February 22nd, Donald Albrecht, a New York City-based curator of design and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, has curated exhibitions and developed books and catalogs ranging from overviews of cultural trends to profiles of individual design firms and artist.
For most exhibitions, Mr. Albrecht also develops and edits the catalogs, contributes major essays and works with other writers to provide fresh critical perspectives. His catalogs have received numerous awards, including The Society of Architectural Historians’ Best Exhibition Catalogue for the Eero Saarinen and the Eames Catalogs.
His profiles of individual design firms and artists include The Work of Charles and Ray Eames for the Library of Congress and Vitra Design Museum; Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future for the Finnish Cultural Institute, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the National Building Museum; and also The High Style of Dorothy Draper for the Museum of the City of New York.
Mr. Albrecht has contributed essays to a number of books about architecture and design, including The Glass House: Pairings and California Design: The Legacy of West Coast Craft and Style.
On the 22nd, he spoke to us about New York City’s wealth of “Art Deco” buildings and how they came to define or establish New York as the “Mythic City.”
For our first lecture of the new “twenties,” January 22, 2020, we hosted Dr. Leo Mazow, Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator and Head of the Department of American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond.
He is a specialist in nineteenth-and twentieth-century American painting and cultural history.
Prior to joining the VMFA, Dr. Mazow was an art history professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. From 2002 through 2010 he was Curator of American Art at the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University. While there he organized a number of critically acclaimed traveling exhibitions, all of which were accompanied by scholarly publications including: Picturing the Banjo, Taxing Visions: Financial Episodes in Late Nineteenth-Century American Art and Shallow Creek: Thomas Hart Benton and the American Waterways.
His book Thomas Hart Benton and the American Sound was awarded the 2013 Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art, presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Dr. Mazow received his BA from the University of Denver, his MA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and was awarded his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 2015, he held a Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, where he worked on his forthcoming book project: Hopper’s Hotels.
During our lecture, Dr. Mazow discussed his exhibit, Edward Hopper’s Hotel Consciousness, which ran during the winter of 2019 into February of 2020 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and actually allowed visitors to “check in” to fabricated rooms that replicated Hopper’s hotels, motels, tourist homes, and boarding houses.
Dr. Mazow is currently working on an upcoming exhibit, The Art of the American Guitar. He has a personal interest, since he plays the guitar with a band called the “Coverlets” that has performed in various museums including The National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian and The Metropolitan Museum.
He did not bring his guitar to our stage, but maybe next time? Many thanks to Dr. Mazow for a wonderful lecture!
(This lecture was organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and supported in part by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.)
Clay Jenkinson is a humanities scholar, author and social commentator who has devoted most of his professional career to public humanities programs and is considered one of the most entertaining public speakers in the United States. His performances are always humorous, educational, thought provoking and enlightening, while maintaining a steady focus on ideas. Jenkinson is widely regarded as one of the most articulate public speakers in the country and he brings a humanities perspective – partly learned as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University – to everything he does.
Clay is one of the nation’s leading interpreters of Thomas Jefferson. He has lectured about and portrayed Jefferson in forty-nine states over a period of 20 years. He also portrays Theodore Roosevelt, Meriwether Lewis, John Wesley Powell, J. and Robert Oppenheimer, hosts the nationally broadcast weekly radio program The Thomas Jefferson Hour, and it the author of such books as The Character of Meriwether Lewis-explorer in the Wilderness, Becoming Jefferson’s People: Re-Inventing the American Republic in the Twenty-First Century, and Theodore Roosevelt in the Dakota Badlands.
He is the Director of Dakota Sky Education, Inc., Chief Consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, and a consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.
He lives in Bismark, North Dakota but can draw a breathtaking crowd in Virginia, a state somewhat partial to the man he brought to life in a conversation with the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Director, Erik Neil–
Thomas Jefferson himself.
Director Neil and Mister Jefferson took the stage on 20 November 2019 at Norfolk’s Harrison Opera house, with more than eight hundred Jefferson enthusiasts in attendance, for an unusually long (by NSA standards) “lecture” of seventy-five minutes, including a Q&A with Mister Jefferson after the talk.
We were honored to have Mr. Jenkinson in Norfolk with us, and many thanks go out to him, as well as the Virginia Opera, whose collaboration allowed us a larger venue for the event.
And a huge thanks to the Chrysler Museum of Art, where afterwards their special exhibit, “Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles, and the Conflict of Ideals,” running from October 2019 through January 2020, could be enjoyed by anyone interested in further study.
During his presentation, Mister Jefferson commented, looking out from the stage, that, had he known the crowd was to be so large, he might not have come. He claimed he is shy. It did not show. His presentation and presence enthralled.
Many thanks, Clay Jenkinson.
And to our devoted NSA membership, whose support made this free and open to the public lecture possible.
In the 17th century, Dutch settlers named one particular hill, that stood four hundred feet above an expansive river, “Kykuit,” meaning “high point” or “lookout.”
That’s the name given to the Rockefeller Estate located on a wide sweep of the Hudson River known as the Tappan Zee in Pocantico Hills , New York, which was the country home for four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller himself.
Our 2019-20 season’s first speaker, Cynthia Bronson Altman, a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, has an M.A. in Art History specializing in Asian Art from Columbia University. She served as the Curator of Collections at Kykuit for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1991 until 2018, and privately for the Rockefeller family for several years prior. She oversaw the conservation and care of their 20th century outdoor sculpture collections and fine and decorative arts within the house.
She has published and lectured on the history of the collections and gardens, and has arranged exhibitions at Pocantico and the Rockefeller University. She has also advised on Curatorial issues for the National Trust at Philip Johnson’s Glass House and at Rockefeller University.
Ms. Altman currently serves on the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Commission and the exhibitions committee of the International Center for Photography. She is a sustaining member of the Association of Professional Art Advisors.
And we were thrilled to welcome her to the stage at the Chrysler Museum of Art to kick off our season to a full house this past September 25th.
William Middleton spent more than ten years researching and writing the story of two of the most influential yet intensely private collectors of the 20th Century, John and Dominique de Menil and his book, Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil covers the joint biography of two family histories.
The scale of the de Menil collection is significant, over 15,000 works of art. They collected everything from prehistoric to contemporary pieces. And then they built a free museum so Houstonians, and, happily, the rest of us, could see it.
Mr Middleton is a journalist and editor who has worked in New York and Paris. He has been the Fashion Features Director for Harper’s Bazaar and the Paris Bureau Chief for Fairchild Publications, overseeing W Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily.
He has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, House & Garden, Esquire, Texas Monthly, Travel & Leisure, Departures, and The International Herald Tribune.
Middleton grew up in mid-century Kansas with, as he referred to them, “Creative Parents.” They believed in the importance of traveling and took him with them from an early age. On his first trip they went to the Kasbah in Tangiers where he was told that he needed to stick with their small group because American boys and girls were often kidnapped, and he remember thinking why can’t I just go to Disneyland like other children?
He is currently living in Paris and working on his next book on the life of Karl Lagerfeld.
We welcomed him to Norfolk as our MABEL BROWN LECTURER on 23 October, thoroughly enjoyed his fact and anectodote-filled talk, and likely wore his writing hand out afterwards at a book signing. All best, Mr. Middleton!
In the world of animation, anything is possible. An ordinary pumpkin can be transformed into a splendid carriage. Four mice can become the stallions transporting Cinderella to the ball.
Our children, our grandchildren, we have all experienced the incredible artistry and animation magic of Walt Disney Studios, but what of the illustrators who actually made that possible?
On May 6th, our speaker, Didier Ghez, an author, editor, Disney historian and Disney History blogger with more than thirty books about the Disney Studio and its artists to his credit, entertained a full house with a lecture about exactly that, the artists! Entitled, “They Drew as They Pleased: the Hidden Art of Disney.”
“Hidden” in that many of the talented illustrators working for Disney through the years have gone unsung as simply cogs in the Disney magic. They drew, it was a job, and yet their works are now parts of our collective childhood.
Ghez researches and rediscovers the individuals behind images we all know and love, and some we never saw because they did not make the screen.
Among Ghez’s publications are books titled Disney’s Grand Tour, Disneyland Paris: from Sketch to Reality, and Walt’s People, a series of twenty-two volumes released to date.
In his Hidden Art of Disney book series, the topic of our lecture, Ghez takes things by decade, beginning in the 1930’s when the Walt Disney Studios were formed. He is currently working on the fifth book, “They Drew as They Pleased: the Hidden Art of Disney’s Renaissance Era,” which deals with the 1970s and ’80s.
Ghez grew up in Paris. And when Disney opened a theme park there in the eighties, it more than captivated him. It inspired him towards what’s become a lifetime of research. Today he is considered the leading historian of Walt Disney Studios.
He was honored at the 2018 “Annie Awards” with the International Animated Film Society’s June Foray Award for significant and benevolent impact on the art and industry of animation.
The significance of the joy he literally radiated from the stage during his lecture on 6 May can’t be overstated. The whole house felt childlike and lighthearted as he spoke.
We lined up for a book signing afterwards, and then the sunshine in the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Huber Court during our fundraising luncheon in his honor could have been Disney magic itself!