Some Heavenly Support for Martin Museum of Art

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Art Angels Carol McClinton, Brooke Taylor, Betsy Robinson, Nell Hawkins, Sue Getterman and Doreen Ravescroft will lend their support to Baylor's Martin Museum of Art. Not pictured Carol Crosthwait. Photo by Cliff Cheney.
Sept. 1, 2005

by Julie Carlson

Baylor University's Martin Museum of Art has received some divine help from a group of art lovers. The newly formed Martin Museum Art Angels will lend their support and fundraising abilities to the museum as a way to help with conservation, with the purchase of new pieces for the permanent collection and with boosting the museum attendance.

Karin Gilliam, new director of the museum, leads the support group. Before her hiring, the museum was directed by members of the Baylor art faculty.

"All the former directors did a great job of bringing in high-quality exhibitions," Gilliam said. "But our chairman, John McClanahan, realized that the museum could prosper even more with a full-time director. And he has been very supportive to the idea of the Martin Museum Art Angels."

Nell Hawkins of Waco was the inaugural Art Angel. She became involved after being introduced to Karin by Doreen Ravenscroft, a long-time supporter of the arts in Waco.

"Karin invited me to the student exhibition at the Martin Museum, and I bought two pieces," Nell said. "I was struck by what a treasure the museum is, but it is really a hidden secret. It has wonderful exhibitions that feature renowned artists from throughout the country and the student work is phenomenal. And the museum is free. Everyone should go for a visit.

"However, most museums of this caliber have support groups. The Art Angels will help get the information about the museum out and will help raise funds so it can continue to grow."

The group's first project soon will be completed. During the summer the Martin Museum and the University Art Gallery were combined into one large space, designated Galleries I and II. This merger required some remodeling, including the removal of a wall, the addition of lights and the purchase of an elegant reception desk

"When we had large groups in here, it could get difficult to keep track of everyone. Also, people didn't seem to realize that there were two galleries. So we thought it would be wise to open up the space. The improvement will be wonderful," Gilliam said.

Other items on Gilliam's wish list include improvement of the climate control in the Permanent Collection storage room with the purchase of a top-notch dehumidifier to stabilize the environment that these valuable pieces of artwork are stored in.

In addition to Nell and Doreen, the other Art Angels, all who are Waco residents, include Sue Getterman, Carol Crosthwait, Brooke Taylor, Betsy Robinson and Carol McClinton. But Gilliam stressed the support group is open to all art lovers, not just Wacoans.

"Affording high-quality exhibitions has become an ever-increasing challenge," she said. "This special group, which will be modeled after top-level memberships at other major academic museums, will help assure that quality, admission-free art exhibitions continue to be a source of great pride for Baylor and a wonderful cultural resource for the entire Central Texas community."

The Martin Museum was founded in 1968 and contained 100 pieces that had been donated to Baylor, often by missionaries who purchased the items in exotic locations. Today, the museum has changed its focus to contemporary art. More than 1,000 pieces make up the permanent collection.

The museum hosts several outstanding exhibits during the year, ranging from painting to sculpture to fiber arts. The final exhibit of the year is the traditional art student show and the studio art faculty show.

The first exhibition for the 2005-2006 season will feature works by Baylor photographer Susan Dunkerley in Gallery 1 and paintings by Baylor Artist-in-Residence Karl Umlauf in Gallery II. The exhibit will open on Sept. 2 and will run through Oct. 8.

An evening opening reception for the exhibitions will be held Sept. 9 from 6-8 pm and will feature talks by Umlauf and Dunkerley. The Martin Museum Art Angels will be honored at that reception. Light appetizers and refreshments will be served, and the public is cordially invited to attend. The museum is located in the Hooper-Schaefer Building on the campus of Baylor University. For more information contact the Martin Museum of Art at 254-710-6390.

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