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UCD names museum for Napa pair after $10M gift

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From page A1 | December 16, 2011 |

“Feminine Head,” a print lithograph by Henri Matisse, circa the 1950s, is one of the 4,000 pieces in UC Davis’ fine arts collection that will be displayed in a  museum planned on campus near the Mondavi Center. Courtesy photo

After a $10 million donation, UC Davis’ planned art museum will carry the name of a pair of immigrants, friends, art patrons and Northern California success stories.

Jan Shrem, owner of Clos Pegase winery, made the donation in his name and that of his friend and fellow Napa Valley resident, Maria Manetti Farrow, most recently a producer of olive oil, UCD announced today.

The 40,000-square-foot Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Farrow Museum of Art is slated to open in 2015 on the south edge of the Vanderhoef Quad, near the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and UCD Conference Center.

“Both Jan and I came to this country as young people, more or less the same age as the students at UC Davis,” Farrow said in a news release. “We both remember what it was like to begin life all over again in a new world where education was our salvation and the arts were our greatest joy.

“Everything that is being planned for the new museum of art suggests it will become an integral part of the university, the curriculum and the community.”

Shrem and Farrow did not have a previous tie to UCD. They are, however, friends of Margrit Mondavi, who with her late husband, wine pioneer Robert Mondavi, numbers among the university’s best-known champions.

Margrit Mondavi first offered up the idea of the new museum, Shrem said.

“We decided it would be an honor to join her in supporting this extraordinary university and in sharing its vision for the future,” he said. “Our philosophy of giving rests on simple concepts: We believe that education and the arts should be accessible to all people. And we believe that a curious and open mind should be nurtured and supported.

“Fortunately, the project at UC Davis has introduced us to people who profoundly share this philosophy. It is with deepest pleasure that we are able to help bring this new museum to life.”

The museum will be used for seminars, research and public events, as well as housing the university’s fine arts collection.

The collection boasts 4,000 pieces, including the work of former art department faculty — including Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest and William T. Wiley — and such renowned artists as Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.

Shrem’s gift will allow the university to start designing the project, which carries a total estimated price tag of $30 million. So far, $12.1 million of a goal of $15 million in private funding has been raised.

Tax-exempt bond financing, paid with campus funds such as short-term interest, will cover the balance. No state funds, student fees or student tuition go toward construction, according to UCD.

The campus is also planning a campaign to raise $5 million to $20 million in private donations to be used as an endowment supporting museum programs.

Chancellor Linda Katehi said the campus is grateful for Shrem’s gift.

“The museum will build upon the university’s long tradition of excellence in the arts, serve as a source of rich learning opportunities for our students, and provide inspiration to generations of artists,” Katehi said.

Born in Colombia of Jewish-Lebanese heritage, Shrem grew up in Jerusalem and moved as a teenager to the United States. He studied at UCLA, built a publishing business in Japan and studied enology at the University of Bordeaux.

Shrem later created the 450-acre wine estate, Clos Pegase. Designed by the renowned architect Michael Graves, the 450-acre winery’s signature building is home to about 1,000 works by artists including Henry Moore, Richard Serra and Mark Di Suvero.

A native of Italy, Farrow immigrated in 1973 to Northern California. Here, she found success managing U.S. and Canadian distribution for premium leather goods by designers such as Gucci. Now a wine grower, Farrow’s 60-acre estate, Villa Mille Rose, produces balsamic vinegar and olive oil served at such notable restaurants as Yountville’s The French Laundry.

Shrem is an active supporter of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, while Farrow supports a number of arts, civic and other organizations in both American and European cities.

Margrit Mondavi said she was “thrilled” with her friends’ backing of the museum.

“The excellent teaching artists of the past, the prominent faculty at UC Davis today, and the impressive collection of renowned California artists deserve a great home for art, which is an ongoing love affair of my life,” she said.

One of those artists, Thiebaud, a painter and professor emeritus, said that the museum will allow students “to experience works of art first-hand in a way that is not possible with reproductions.”

“It is this kind of experience that is essential to the university’s teaching mission,” he said.

Jessie Ann Owens, dean of UCD’s Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, said the museum also could lead to the creation of new academic programs like museum studies and house a scholarly archive of artists’ papers and other materials.

Shrem’s donation — the largest ever received by the College of Letters and Science — will count toward The Campaign for UC Davis: a $1 billion fundraising effort that has, since 2006, brought in about $749 million from 85,000 donors.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net. Follow him at http://twitter.com/cory_golden

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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