Important People Attend Wildenhain Opening; No Kardashians Show

Thanks to all who came out Friday, September 7th to the opening reception for the Frans Wildenhain mid-century modern ceramics exhibition at Bevier Gallery. At the risk of pulling a Joey Levine (look him up), below I name check some who were there.

Travelling farthest for the gala was Frances Murray from Vancouver, BC. We were glad to meet her, her brother, Clyde, and his wife Linda (Kingston, Ont.). From across campus, we were also glad to see Elizabeth Reeves and Pat Scanlon of the Department of Communication.

Pianist Tom Tosti attended, as did the king of Twitter, Mike Johansson. Former Wildenhain students Nancy Jurs and Peter Gerbic, both contemporary ceramists, were there as was former Frans student Tarrant Clements who now works in two-dimensional media. Scottsville sculptor, Wildenhain colleague, and Shop One partner Wendell Castle attended as did former Wildenhain student Professor Rick Hirsch (now chair of RIT’s graduate program in ceramics) with his wife Arlene. Two other Wildenhain colleagues Barbara Cowles (Shop One) and Ken Poole (Naples Mill School) mingled and viewed.

Wildenhain collection donor Robert Johnson and his partner Winn McCray regaled interested listeners with stories about Wildenhain and told with their dry wit.

Many Media Mahoffs Meandered: WXXI Vice President Dr. Susan M. Rogers attended, as did CITY Newspaper’s editor and publisher Mary Anna Towler and Bill Towler. Wildenhain publicist Steve Bodnar was accompanied by two companions. Mindy Mozer, editor of RIT’s University Magazine, attended as did the magazine’s former editor, Kathy Lindsley; RIT’s Chief Communications Officer, Bob Finnerty was there as was Athenaeum editor Vienna Carvalho.

Arriving as a group was the Wallace Center’s ETC group, the team responsible for the Frans Wildenhain website: Raman Bhalla, Megan Bastian, and Dave Pedu. Project photographer A. Sue Weisler . . . made photographs and, like the author (who exposed neither a frame nor captured a single digit), missed out on what we heard was a delicious spread of food.

Also from the Wallace Center, and also arriving as a unit, was Associate Provost Lynn Wild, Library Director Shirley Bower, and Associate Curator at the Cary Collection Amelia Hugill-Fontanel.

The owner of the privately commission Wildenhain mural, depicted in the Biography chapter of the exhibition catalog, and her daughter arrived early, beat the crowd, and admired the attractive buffet. Their identities are, to mint a phrase, double-secret.

Emeritus Provost Stanley D. McKenzie, recently returned to Rochester from Tucson, grazed along with Emeritus Liberal Arts Dean Glenn Kist and his wife, Doris. The author of RIT’s official history and Emeritus Professor Dane Gordon and his wife attended as did Graduate Dean Emeritus Dr. Peter Giapulos and a nearby Penfield neighbor Les Waldron.

The current College of Liberal Arts “front office” was well represented by Dean James Winebrake, Associate Dean Babak Elahi, and Senior Associate Dean M. Ann Howard. The President’s office was represented by Dr. Barry Culhane and the Provost’s office by Dr. Chris Licata. Dr. Danielle Smith, Director of RIT’s Honors Program attended as well.

Driving in from Orchard Park, NY was Doug McFarland and Sue Langendorfer; they met Kim and Rick Dasson of Rochester at the reception. Brad and Mary Ellen Hindson drove in from Honeoye Falls while Betsy Carpenter had a much longer trip from New Jersey. Judy Matthews of Sodus made a rare Rochester appearance.

Former Rochester Museum and Science director Don Hall took photos of me, retouching them so it appears as though I have gray hair. In from Pennsylvania were Barbara and Paul Rankin; their twins, PJ and Lili, were monitored by and in the temporary custody of communication graduate student Chyna Trible while their parents enjoyed the gallery filled with adults.

The Wildenhain Bevier Gallery exhibit’s designer Hanna Stoehr was present as well as Dyer Arts Center designer Alicia Treat, both RIT Museum Studies majors. The chair of their degree program, Dr. Tina Lent and her husband Max offered supervision and photographed. A past intern for the Wildenhain project and now an RIT BFA Ceramics graduate, Erin McGraw, remained until the reception’s end!

Well known designer Bev Hafner attended in the company of Betty Strasenburgh. Ms. Hafner designed the lobby for the R.J. Strasenburgh pharmaceutical building where Frans Wildenhain installed a 110 by 14-foot mural in the late 1950s. Frans won a Lillian Fairchild Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship for the work.

Local historian Douglas Fisher of Fishers, NY attended as did Rochester appraiser Roslyn Bakst Goldman. Jody Sidlaukas and Becky Simmons, both of the RIT Archives, and partners in the Wildenhain project, spent a fair amount of time at the exhibit. Wendy Marks, another project partner and manager of Shop One at RIT’s Global Village, displayed and sold copies of the exhibition catalog.

Flying in from New York City was Jakob von Wagner, head of the Cultural Department at the German Consulate. Professor Uli Stroszeck of the Modern Languages Department, College of Liberal Arts, spent the day helpfully shepherding him around RIT and the University of Rochester.

It being a “first Friday,” when galleries all across town welcome visitors (and feed them), a small contingent of that mooching group was in attendance. (Disclosure: had I not had responsibilities at Bevier that night, I would have been among the moochers. And, I like using the word “moocher.”)

Surprisingly, I did not see any of the Kardashians. However, there were well over 200 people attending the Wildenhain opening, and they’re not all named here, so perhaps I missed the LA family. For all I know ceramist and actor Jeff Bridges, actress Claire Danes (who professes to be a mid-century eBay shopper), Creed Bratton (of TV’s “The Office” and former musician with the Grass Roots who lists ceramics as among the things he loves) and Britney (now “The X Factor”) snuck in.

And there were more people, so many it became downright hot and humid! Photos are appearing on the Wildenhain Facebook page. Add yours. “Like” Frans. Support original research by RIT students with your purchase of the exhibit catalog.

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