by Mary Davis MacNaughton '70
Alumnae are familiar with the magical effect that Scripps’ architecture and landscape have on the senses. Part of this magic surely comes from the art that graces the campus: think of the stunning Flower Vendors, Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s fresco mural in Margaret Fowler Garden; John Gregory’s Shakespeare reliefs in Balch courtyard; and Albert Stewart, Aldo Casanova, and Paul Soldner’s sculptures. These are Scripps’ public art treasures, but there are many others. At the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery this year, you also will see some of the hidden treasures at Scripps, in particular, selected prints and paintings from its extraordinary permanent collection.
Each year, the Gallery, which adjoins the Millard Sheets Art Center on the West side of campus, presents four exhibitions that may cover a wide spectrum of artistic topics, from Western to Asian, and historical to contemporary. Whatever their theme, these exhibitions are designed to enhance teaching in art and humanities courses. Although the Williamson Gallery focuses on changing exhibitions related to the artistic processes taught at Scripps, at times it also presents selections from the College’s richly varied permanent collection.
For 13 years, the collection has been exhibited and cared for by collection manager Kirk Delman (MFA, CGU ’87), who oversees all photography, loans, and exhibitions of works. He has created many memorable exhibition designs, as well as the handsome installations from the collection that you see in various campus buildings, especially the art in the dining rooms at the Malott Commons and the Vita Nova Conference Room.
American and European Paintings and Prints
Art holdings at Scripps are composed of many smaller collections, which came to the College through gifts and bequests. Although the total collection is wide-ranging, it has special strengths in certain areas:American paintings, Western prints, Japanese prints, as well as Chinese paintings and textiles, Chinese and Japanese cloisonné, and American ceramics.The American collection of paintings and works on paper is the result of a generous gift by General and Mrs. Edward Clinton Young of 71 works by American impressionist and realist painters. Jane Hurley Wilson ’64 also gave many key French 19th-century prints by Honoré Daumier, Guillaume Gavarni, and Jean Grandville.
The Scripps collection of nearly 1,500 Japanese prints, from the 17th to 20th centuries, had many donors: Mrs. Frederick Bailey, Dr. and Mrs.William Ballard, Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Mrs. James W. Johnston, Stanley Johnson and Mary Wig Johnson ’35, Betty Hare, Ruth Le Master, Fred and Estelle Marer, Lilian Miller, and Louise Hawkes Padelford.
The Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Culture, made possible by a gift from the Aoki Corporation, has supported the cataloguing and mounting of the Japanese print collection, as well as the expansion of the collection. From the 1930s through the 1970s,William Bacon Pettus gave many 15th- through 19th-century Chinese landscape and figure paintings to Scripps. Now the College has the second largest collection of Chinese paintings in Los Angeles, after the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Scripps also has one of the best collections west of the Mississippi of Chinese cloisonné, thanks to a gift in 1973 by Dorothy Adler Routh of 60 pieces, including incense burners, chargers, sculpture, and vases, all covered with inlaid decorations in jewel-like colors. In 2003, her children, Pamela and Douglas, added 150 more pieces, many of which have been displayed at the Clark Museum, the Honnold Library Founders’ Room, and the Williamson Gallery.
One of the strengths of the Gallery program at Scripps is its emphasis on contemporary art. Last year the Gallery was the first U.S. venue for recent stoneware and steel works by Britain’s leading sculptor, Sir Anthony Caro. Other recent exhibitions have explored various themes.”In the Mind’s Sky: Intersections of Art and Science” (2000) examined ways in which artists have been inspired by scientific phenomenon on microcosmic and macrocosmic scales.”Reading Meaning” (2004) looked at the fusion of words and symbols in the art of Squeak Carnwath, Lesley Dill, Leslie Enders Lee and Anne Siems.”Matter and Matrix” (2003) featured art evoking networks from music to the worldwide web.The latter included work by Kris Cox, a graduate of CMC, and three Scripps alumnae:Amy Ellingson ’86, Elizabeth Turk ’83, and Jane Park Wells ’93.
One of the finest collections of contemporary ceramics in the United States, known for its emphasis on postwar West Coast ceramics, is the gift of Fred and Estelle Marer. Indeed, each year the Marer Collection is eagerly studied by hundreds of students who come to see the longest running exhibition of contemporary ceramics in the country, the Scripps Ceramic Annual. Now in its 63rd year, the Annual always has been curated by an artist who is prominent in the ceramic field. Students who come to this exhibition also see the Marer Collection, which contains around 1,500 works, including those by some of the best-known names in ceramics: among them are Laura Andresen, Shoji Hamada, Jun Kaneko, Marilyn Levine, Harrison McIntosh, John Mason, Paul Soldner, and Peter Voulkos.
Scripps Collection on the Road
Works from the Scripps Collection are often requested for major exhibitions both here and abroad. One of the works in high demand is Theodore Robinson’s La Débâcle, (1892), recently featured in “Americans in Paris, 1860-1900,” which debuted at the National Gallery in London, traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.Winslow Homer’s Four Fishwives (1881) has also been illustrated in many books and catalogs on Homer’s art.
Studio Art Faculty
The studio and art history faculty at Scripps have played key roles in building the Scripps art collection. For example, Millard Sheets, who led the early art department, arranged for Alfredo Ramos Mart