Wings of an Angel
A surprise bequest is a windfall for Monterey’s art museum.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
If the members, staff and trustees at the Monterey Museum of Art didn’t believe in angels last year, they might now, because of a generous bequest received in November from the estate of Beth and Mellon “Bud” Baird of Austin, Texas—304 oil paintings, prints and watercolors that match the personality of the museum’s permanent collection. The Bairds, who made the Monterey Peninsula a second home, intended for the museum to keep what it wanted, then sell off the rest and use the funds to develop exhibition programming.
The museum is taking the first step in fulfilling the Bairds’ wishes with California Paintings from the Baird Collection: A Benefit Auction, which opens for one month beginning June 12. Visitors may view some of the 65 works that the museum has decided to let go, and prepare themselves for the auction of these works, set for July 11.
According to the museum’s executive director, Richard Gadd, “They’re California works from important periods that we are using to fill in gaps in the collection, and to upgrade artists we already have in the collection. Ninety percent of the works are oil paintings, though there are some etchings and a few watercolors.”
The range of periods and artists in the bequest is sure to enhance the museum’s collection. “Some of the works are from pre-1900, including a nice Raymond Yellen coast landscape dated 1876,” says Gadd. “There are other important pieces: a small Armin Hansen, a William Ritschel, a Seldon Gile, not to mention Maurice Logan, Lillie May Nicholson, William Wendt, Thomas McGlynn, Clark Hobart, Mary de Neale Morgan and Jeannette Maxfield Lewis.”
Adds Gadd, “It’s a slow process, but Mary Murray, the curator, and I are going through the donation, making recommendations to the Acquisitions Committee as to what to keep and what to auction. There are many paintings, there will be other auctions later.”