Arts center receives key grants

A $500,000 gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, founder and president of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, has established the first permanent endowment fund for the Sam Fox Arts Center, a campus-wide umbrella organization for the visual arts and design.

“The projects underwritten by the income from this endowment will further the missions and purposes of both institutions,” Pulitzer said. “We are confident that our collaboration will also strengthen the greater community.”

Parallel to the Sam Fox Arts Center, which unites the practice and study of art, art history and architecture, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts defines itself as a resource for the contemplation, enjoyment and study of the arts. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, the building hosts exhibitions and programs in which creative forms of interaction with artists, scholars and the general public are encouraged.

“Emily Pulitzer is a prominent and dedicated advocate for the arts, both in St. Louis and nationally,” noted Mark S. Weil, Ph.D., the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts and director of both the Sam Fox Arts Center and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. “We are deeply grateful for her generosity and look forward to working with her and the Pulitzer Foundation for years to come.”

Pulitzer, a longtime champion for the arts, also serves on the boards of Grand Center and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as well as those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Harvard University Art Museums. Her numerous achievements include co-founding, in 1986, Arts in Transit, a partnership with Metro that has since completed more than 100 public artworks, installations and community enhancements.

In addition to the Pulitzer endowment, The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum — one of the Sam Fox Arts Center’s five principal partners — has received a 2004 Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The award, granted every two years, will provide $125,000 in support of Reality Bites: Making Avant-Garde Art in Post-Wall Germany, the inaugural loan exhibition in the museum’s new facilities, scheduled to open in fall 2006.

The award, established in 1998, supports innovation and experimentation at the curatorial level, funding thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and the mainstream of contemporary art. This year’s other recipient is the Bronx Museum of the Arts, for the exhibition Street Art, Street Life, which will be curated by Lydia Yee and will open in 2007.

Reality Bites is conceived and organized by Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., curator of the Kemper Art Museum. The exhibition will examine how the visual arts have dealt, both directly and indirectly, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of East and West Germany, paying particular attention to the interdependence of art and the social, economic and political worlds.

“The artworks to be presented were all executed in roughly the first decade of the new Germany,” said Eckmann, a German native. “They mediate as well as contribute to the radical political, geographical and cultural transformations of this time, positing a new relation between art and the everyday, art and ‘reality,’ or art and non-art through the use of technological media and new uses of traditional media.”

Reality Bites will feature approximately 70 artworks, including video, photography, installation, assemblage and new media work, by both German artists and international artists now living in Germany.

“In contrast to the majority of scholarship on German modern and postmodern art, which focuses on a homogenous, nationally oriented German art history, Reality Bites will open up new avenues for understanding contemporary art and its relation to national and international forces,” Eckmann said.

Headquartered in Meriden, Conn., the Tremaine Foundation was founded by Emily Hall Tremaine, a lifelong collector of contemporary art, prior to her death in 1987. The bulk of the collection she built with husband Burton G. Tremaine — known as one of the world’s most exceptional accumulations of contemporary art — was sold at auction in 1988 and 1991, generating the foundation’s asset base.