COTA celebrates grand opening of art museum
Clayton in the Don Russell Clayton Gallery.
Former Gov. Joe Frank Harris, Elizabeth Harris, Dean Joseph Meeks and Don Russell Clayton with his Golden Circle Award.
Bernard Zuckerman, who donated the Ruth Zuckerman Collection, also was honored with a Golden Circle Award.
Photos by Cheryl Anderson Brown
By Lauren Highfill
The grand opening of Phase I of the Kennesaw State University Art Museum drew a large crowd to the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center on May 18. More than 300 people gathered for the grand opening of the museum and the dedication of the Don Russell Clayton Gallery, home of the Athos Menaboni Collection.
During the dedication, KSU President Daniel S. Papp; Daniel Lally and Quanda Allen of the Bank of America; Elizabeth Harris, wife of former Georgia governor Joe Frank Harris and a friend of the late Menaboni; and Dean of the College of the Arts Joseph Meeks spoke about the importance of the facility and the exhibition of Atlanta artist Athos Menaboni. “The Athos Menaboni Collection and the Art Museum will not only impact tens of thousands of KSU students in the coming decades,” said Papp, “but will also serve hundreds of thousands of school children and adults throughout metropolitan Atlanta, northwest Georgia and beyond.”
Menaboni, an Italian-born artist best known for his wildlife paintings, had a strong, 40-year friendship with Robert W. Woodruff of The Coca-Cola Company. In his youth, KSU alumnus Russell Clayton admired Woodruff and began a correspondence with him that eventually led him to befriend Menaboni and his wife, Sara. Over the years, Clayton became an avid collector of Menaboni’s artwork, amassed a substantial and varied collection of Menaboni’s works and wanted to ensure its preservation.
“As I get older, I've discovered that the following really is true for most collectors,” Clayton said. “We spend the first half of our lives collecting, and we spend the second half trying to figure out what in the world are we going to do with all the stuff that we've accumulated.”
A catalog of artwork in the Athos Menaboni Collection at KSU is available for $25 (plus $3 shipping and handling to have one sent to you.) To request a catalog, call 770-499-3417 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds benefit the KSU Art Museum.
After considering several universities and museums, Clayton ultimately decided to donate his collection to Kennesaw State. With help from longtime friend Fred Bentley Sr., KSU made a successful proposal to the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to provide a $1 million grant to build the Don Russell Clayton Gallery to house the collection.
Harris, who delivered the keynote address for the afternoon, praised Kennesaw State for providing a beautiful home for Athos and Sara Menaboni's "children," where everyone could come to enjoy his art. “Athos Menaboni had a gift. He found it, he used it and we are all blessed because of it. He's the closest thing to God's eye that we can have here on Earth.”
The Clayton Gallery is one part of Phase I of the Art Museum, which is also comprised of the Anna F. Henriquez Atrium. Similarly to the Clayton Gallery’s exhibit of Menaboni, the Henriquez Atrium houses the Ruth Zuckerman Collection of art. Zuckerman was a renowned Georgian sculptor and after her untimely death, her husband Bernie Zuckerman donated nearly 100 of her sculptures to KSU’s Permanent Collection. Both Clayton and Mr. Zuckerman were inducted into the College of the Arts Golden Circle of Friends, a lifetime level of recognition.
“Individuals inducted into the Golden Circle have made a difference for the arts at Kennesaw State, for the university itself and for our community,” said Meeks. In welcoming Zuckerman to the Golden Circle, Meeks acknowledged his gift as “the first substantial sculpture collection to be received by the university’s permanent collection” and also highlighted his contribution of “many documents that will allow students and scholars to study the life and work of Ruth Zuckerman for generations to come.”
In acknowledgement, Zuckerman said, "I'm just the messenger. Ruth is the speaker and she speaks through the stone; all you have to do is look at it to hear her message of love.”
In honoring the next inductee, Meeks said, “In addition to his extraordinarily generous gift of his Menaboni collection, Russell Clayton has become an avid supporter of all the arts at Kennesaw State.”
The event concluded with the first public viewing of the Clayton Gallery and the “Athos Menaboni: Conversations with Nature” exhibit. Although the grand opening was a joyous celebration of a completed phase in the development of the Art Museum, Meeks urged the audience to look toward the future of the arts at KSU. “We have not yet completed our vision,” he said. The future holds the completion of Phase II of the Art Museum, “which will be a home for the entire Permanent Collection of art, serve as a center for education and host important visiting exhibitions.”
For more information about how you can support the Menaboni Collection or the KSU Art Museum, call 770-499-3214 or e-mail email@example.com. To make a donation online, click here and please remember to designate your gift for the Art Museum.