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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 24, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 4
Portrait of an Art Patron

Margaret Deli adjusts a Gari Melchers portrait of Alice Warder Garrett that hangs at Evergreen Museum & Library.
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Student-curated exhibit focuses on Parisian gallery of Alice Warder Garrett

By Heather Egan Stalfort
Johns Hopkins University Museums

When Exhibiting Alice opens on Friday afternoon at Evergreen Museum & Library, the gallery show and its related talk will be marking a milestone: The show was conceived and planned by senior Margaret Deli, the first student to have curated a show for the museum.

Deli's talk begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception that also celebrates the university's Program in Museums and Society. Johns Hopkins students, faculty and staff are invited to mingle with museum staff over light refreshments and conversation about Museums and Society and student opportunities at the Johns Hopkins University Museums.

Evergreen's student curator internship provides a rare educational opportunity for undergraduates who are preparing for professional and scholarly careers, particularly at museums. Interns obtain hands-on experience in the curatorial profession by producing a small exhibition exploring an Evergreen-related topic or theme. The exhibition is showcased in the museum's second- floor gallery cases.

Deli, a double major in history of art and English with a double minor in Writing Seminars and French literature, was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants. "Her recommendations and writing sample were of such a high standard," said Jackie O'Regan, curator of Evergreen Museum & Library. "Her undeniable enthusiasm and passion for Evergreen, which resonated throughout her application letter, were also very impressive."

Having served as a volunteer docent at the museum since her freshman year, Deli was well- informed about Evergreen's history and collections, and she says she knew as soon as she heard of the curator opportunity while she was studying in France, what — or rather whom — she wanted to focus on if chosen: Alice Warder Garrett, Evergreen's last resident.

To complement the museum's fall exhibition, Dufy: The Evergreen Collection — featuring expressive works by French colorist Raoul Dufy acquired by Garrett during the 1930s — Deli decided to research the modern art gallery that Garrett opened in Paris during the summer of 1934, when it's likely that she and Dufy were introduced. She discovered that this "patron's gallery," as its owner called it, was an opportunity for Garrett to demonstrate her novel theories about art patronage.

Exhibiting Alice, Deli said, "is a focus show about Alice Warder Garrett's modern art exhibitions, but it's also about Alice herself and the ideas she formulated about what constitutes a responsible art patron. It wasn't about buying art for your own enjoyment; she wanted people to buy art and display it so that others, particularly those less fortunate than her, could see it as well. It's why she was one of the first trustees of the Baltimore Museum of Art, and why she and her husband [John Work Garrett] made sure that their home and collections would always remain open to the public."

In 1942, when John Work Garrett — a career member of the diplomatic corps, former ambassador to Italy and a Johns Hopkins trustee from 1937 to 1942 — died, he left Evergreen, along with his extensive collections of art, coins, rare books and stamps, to the university. Prior to her death in 1952, his widow established the Evergreen House Foundation and bequeathed to it her important collection of early 20th-century paintings and an endowment, the income from which helps to maintain the museum and its programs. Evergreen was restored in the late 1980s and opened to the public in 1990 for tours and special cultural and educational programs. The house's John Work Garrett Library is part of the university's Sheridan Libraries.

The exhibition mounted by Deli includes paintings by Roger Chastel, Andre Denoyer de Segonzac, Andre Planson and Maurice Brianchon, all of whom participated in Garrett's 1934 exhibitions in Paris. Items drawn from Evergreen's archives, including exhibition pamphlets, photographs, newspaper excerpts and Garrett's writings on art patronage, also will be on display.

Exhibiting Alice remains on view through Jan. 22 as part of regular museum tours, which are offered on the hour, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (last tour is at 3 p.m.). Museum admission is free to Johns Hopkins faculty, staff and students; $3 for alumni and retirees (valid ID required).


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