A Maverick’s Story told by a Curating Master AND Caught on Film

The Norfolk Society of Arts recently hosted the Chrysler Museum of Art’s beloved Curator Emeritus, Jeff Harrison, lecturing on the “maverick” collecting career of a man he knew well and admired, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.


The lecture was, as expected, information and anecdote-filled, as only Jeff can do it.  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture it all-  so, for a first in the hundred year history of the NSA- we filmed the lecture in full.

Check it out on our Facebook page, @nosoarts.norfolk.



September Lecture Cancelled

With huge regret, we announce  the CANCELLATION of our September 12 lecture, “Past, Present and Future of the Detroit Institute of Arts,” due to Hurricane Florence.
Many thanks to our NSA Speaker’s Committee, who worked so hard to schedule
Mr. Salort-Pons of the Detroit Institute of Arts as our season’s first speaker,

and to Mr. Salort-Pons himself, for what we hope might be a rescheduled lecture in the near future?

But for now, the weather prevails.

Florence heads for the coast (photo: the weather channel)


Our Lecture season’s starting!

12 September 2018

SALVADOR SALORT-PONS, Director, President &  CEO of the Detroit Institute of Art.

His topic is his museum:  “Past, Present and Future of the Detroit Institute of Art.”


Coffee in the Chrysler Museum’s Huber Court, 10:30.  Lecture 11am sharp!

Meryl Gordon

7 May 2018

“Bunny Mellon:  the Life of an American Style Legend”


Before our Annual Meeting and Benefit Luncheon, our season’s final speaker was the award-winning journalist and best-selling author, Meryl Gordon, currently the Director of Magazine Writing at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.


She has written for a variety of publications, including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, and Town and Country magazine.  And she has profiled an array of influential and popular figures ranging from Kofi Annan and John Kerry to Michelle Obama and Nicole Kidman.

Her best-selling biographies include the enticingly titled, “Mrs Astor Regrets:  the Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach,” as well as, “The Phantom of Fifth Avenue:  the Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark.”

Her latest book, and the topic of our May lecture, “Bunny Mellon:  the Life of an American Style Legend,” was released this past Fall and is already on the New York Times best seller list and in its fifth printing.

It features a woman with significant ties to our region.  Bunny Mellon built and furnished homes in Northern “horse country” Virginia, bequeathed an extensive collection of Schlumberger jewelry to the VMFA, and, along with her husband, Paul Mellon, Made substantial gifts of art to both the VMFA and the National Gallery of Art.

Meryl was accompanied for the lecture by her husband, Walter Shapiro, a noted political columnist, who, in the acknowledgement of her book, she describes as “funny and charming, comforting and smart… and even a great line editor.”













For the description of her course, the art of biography, in the NYU course catalog, Meryl poses several questions for the potential student, including this intriguing one:  “How do you choose which truth to tell about a person?”  Adding, “There are many ways.”


Dr.Kathleen Foster

28 March 2018

“American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent”

A lecture funded by the Mary Ellis Jarvie Fund, established by our good friends and supporters, Jim and Christiane Valone in honor of a beloved family member.


Dr. Foster’s distinguished career as a curator began at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, then at the Indiana University of Art Museum, and continues today, after sixteen years, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  She is a respected leader in the field of American Art and a noted expert on the works of Thomas Eakins.

She also has assembled a definitive exhibition and catalog on the American Watercolor Movement.  The topic of our March lecture, it traces what has been called a “sea change” in American art history.  A “once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation” moment.

Dr. Foster’s long-standing interest in the American Watercolor movement began in graduate school when she started work on the collection of Edwin Austin Abbey.  Over the following decades, her strong connections and respect within her field allowed her to assemble over one hundred and seventy-five fragile works of watercolor, pieces rarely loaned due to their fragile state.  The result was the exhibition of a lifetime.


Lisa Freiman


28 February 2018

“Making History:  The 2011 Venice Biennial and the Institute for Contemporary Art”

Lisa Freiman, a curator, art consultant and faculty member at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts, delivered an information-packed lecture on her experiences taking an edgy, controversial exhibit to the American Pavilion as its Commissioner during the 2011 Venice Biennale.


Ms. Freiman, pre-lecture, with NSA President McCarthy… and eager, front row guest-

In 2010, as Senior Curator of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Dr. Freiman envisioned and directed the construction of a $25M nature and art park adjacent to the museum, including eight commissioned sculptures.  Museum attendance increased by sixty-seven percent as a result and a new model for sculpture parks in the twenty-first century was established.  She definitely left a stamp on Indianapolis.

One year later, after completing one of the most arduous and competitive selection processes in the art world, Dr. Freiman was named Commissioner of the United States Pavilion for the Venice Bienalle 2011.

And for the last five years, Dr. Freiman has served as the first director of the new Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond, Virginia, scheduled to open- mark your calendars- on April 21 of this year.  Not only did she co-curate the opening exhibit, she oversaw all aspects of the building design and construction, selected and recruited staff, and conducted and completed a $37M capital campaign.

She definitely left a stamp on Richmond, too!

Jeff Harrison

24 January 2018

“American Maverick:  the Extraordinary Life and Collecting Career of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.”


Who better than the Chrysler Museum of Art’s own Jeff Harrison to deliver a lecture on the life and career of its founder, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.


And happily for us, Mr. Harrison’s lecture – delivered to a standing-room only crowd- was videotaped in its entirety and edited to feature Harrison’s collection of slides, his wonderful expressions, and even the Q&A session after his talk.

We look forward to premiering the video this spring.  Watch our website for a link

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Jeff Harrison earned his BA in English literature and his PhD in the History of Art from the University of Virginia.  Following that, he performed fellowships at the Art History Institute at the University of Amsterdam and the National Gallery of Art.

Jeff had a thirty-three year career at the Chrysler Museum of Art beginning in 1982.  During that time, he was named the museum’s Research Curator and later its Curator of European Art.  From 1993 on he served as the museum’s Chief Curator and in 2014 received the honor of being named the IRENE LEACH CURATOR OF EUROPEAN ART.

While at the Chrysler, he organized and curated scores of exhibitions, from “Rembrandt in the Golden Age” to the wildly popular ” Art of Video Games.”

He published numerous books and articles on the museum’s permanent collection and on 16th Century Netherlandish Art.  His latest publication, American Art in the Chrysler Museum, appeared in 2005.

He was also a vital part of the team leading to the recent expansion and reinstallation of the museum and, at his retirement in 2015, was named Chief Curator Emeritus.

Mark Lewis, Conservator at the Chrysler, worked closely with Jeff during his time at the museum.  He describes him as passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgable.  he also  made the insightful comment that some experts can exclude you with their knowledge.  Jeff includes you with his.

Graham C. Boettcher

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Mr. Boettcher with NSA President McCarthy at coffee in the Chrysler Museum’s Huber Court pre-lecture-

29 November

Speaking on “Tiffany’s Dragons:  The Viking Revival in American Art”

Mr. Boettcher at a dinner prior to his lecture with the Chrysler Museum of Art’s former and current American Art Curators, Alex Mann (l) and Corey Piper (r)

Dr. Boettcher, the R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington.  He studied at Yale, where he received a BA in German Studies, went on to the University of Washington to receive his Masters in Art History, and then back to Yale for a PhD in the History of Art.

His early experience was as a curatorial fellow at the Yale University of Art and in fellowships at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.  From there he joined the Birmingham Museum of Art as a fellow where his talents were quickly recognized ad rewarded.  Starting as a fellow, he advanced to Curator of American Art, to Chief Curator, to Deputy Director and finally and most recently, to Director.

Dr. Boettcher is known for his varied interests in art and his ability to make art accessible to everyone.  A look at the topics of some of his recent lectures exemplifies this, as well as his great sense of humor:

“From spanish Moss to Marinis:  American Art Pottery of the Early 20th Century”

“Bullies, Scamps and Whippersnappers:  Childhood Mischief in American Art”

Of particular note is a Ted Talk he gave, entitled, “The Art of Authenticity:  Real Experiences with Fakes.”

Dr. Boettcher has curated an array of exhibitions which further illustrate his tremendous reach.  they include exhibits on Norman Rockwell, eye miniatures, Southern quilts, body image, art of the Civil War, and Czech modern art.

We were fortunate to have this talented, dynamic and fun leader in the art world speaking with us on yet another of his compelling topics, “Tiffany’s Dragons:  the Viking Revival in American Art.”

Barry Bergdoll

25 October

Mr. Bergdoll, our Maybel Brown Lecturer, fascinated the audience with his lecture on “Unpacking the Archive:  Frank Lloyd Wright at 150”

Mr. Bergdoll before his lecture with Chrysler Museum Director Erik Neil

Mr. Berdoll’s twenty-three page CV catalogues an extensive list of publications written, courses taught, films organized, exhibitions collaborated upon and honors received.

He represents both the academic and curatorial worlds.  He is a professor of modern architectural history at Columbia University as well as a curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.

While at MOMA, he has curated several major exhibitions, most noteworthy for us here in Norfolk, Va, is one entitled:  “Rising Currents:  Projects for the New York Waterfront.”

In 2012, professor Bergdoll was instrumental in bringing to MOMA and Columbia the archives of one of the most popular, controversial and fascinating architectural figures of the last century, Frank Lloyd Wright.  In 2014 he organized the first exhibition based on that archive, “Frank Lloyd Wright and the City,” followed by a second exhibition just recently closed at MOMA, and the topic of his lecture for the NSA, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150:  Unpacking the archives.”

Professor Bergdoll is known for the cultural lens through which he views subjects, giving us a picture not only of the engineering and artistic sides of architectural works but of the social, economic and geographical world in which they were created.

He also spent three hours on the tarmac at La Guardia only to have his flight cancelled and then returned to the airport to catch an early enough flight this morning to deliver his lecture to a rapt and extremely grateful society of arts!

Colette Loll

13 September

“Grand Tales Behind Winterthur’s Exhibit of Treasures on Trial.”

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Collett Loll was the CEO of a marketing and software company for fifteen years when she decided to switch gears and pursue the study of a long time interest in decorative arts.  She packed her bags and moved to Washington, DC, to study the History of Decorative Arts at the Smithsonian Associates Corcoran College of Art and Design.  While there she developed an interest in art fraud.  Which took her to Italy for postgraduate studies in International Art Crime.

Since then she has conducted forensic investigations on suspect artworks, participated in documentary films, even trained Federal agents in the Department of Homeland Security.

She has curated several exhibitions, including the 2014-15 show, “Intent to Deceive,” which highlighted five of the world’s most notorious art forgers, examining not only their techniques but their con artist tactics and physiological profiles.

She is currently founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, a company specializing in art fraud detection, research and education.

She is also co-curator of an exhibit at Winterthur entitled, “Treasures on Trial:  the Art and Science of Detecting Fakes.”

Perhaps most interesting of all, we understand that she has a home filled with Picassos, Renoirs and Matisses.  Or DOES she?


…and at a dinner in her honor, hosted by the NSA, in the Chrysler Museum’s porcelain gallery the evening prior to her lecture.