As Fort Wayne Museum of Art's reputation in the glass art community continues to grow, so does its collection.
Among three exhibitions opening July 24 is “A Love of Light: The Fendel/Rosenbach Collection,” featuring 32 pieces donated in honor of Sylvia Fendel, Yale Fendel and Max Rosenbach.
Valued at more than $500,000, it is the museum's largest gift of glass from a single donor and the largest gift of a collection featuring multiple artists. It brings the museum's glass collection to more than 120 pieces.
Not only is the Fendel/Rosenbach collection a great gift to the museum, it sends a signal to other collectors, President and CEO Charles A. Shepard III says. Glass collectors can see the donor was treated the way they would like to be treated. They keep in touch with each other and word will continue to spread about the local museum.
When working on her estate planning, Sylvia Fendel knew she wanted her sculptures to stay together and go to an institution where people would be able to enjoy the works. She assigned her daughter, Alyson Breier, the responsibility of finding a home for the collection. Yale Fendel was Breir's father and Rosenbach her step-father.
Fendel died July 25, 2019, and Shepard says Breier did a lot of research to find the right place for her mother's collection. She knew her mother was a member of a glass art association, for which Shepard had done a presentation about the museum and its goal of building a large glass collection.
The virtual presentation was recorded and shared. Breier saw Shepard's enthusiasm for glass in the video, so she reached out.
“Alyson and I had a terrific conversation. We both had the same things in mind,” Shepard says. That included keeping the collection intact “because it's what (Fendel) had spent a good portion of her cultural life investing in and putting her energies to.
“We're not going to put it back in the boxes in the store room, we're going to use the glass all year round.”
The atrium, just past the museum's ticket desk, has a rotating selection of glass art along with several permanently displayed pieces. Works from the Fendel donation will join the rotation, so there will almost always be something from it on view.
Sylvia Fendel was an astute collector, Shepard says. She carefully picked the cream of the crop of glass artists, including Dale Chihuly, Carl Beling, Mary Bayard White, Richard Ritter, Therman Statom and Robin Grebe.
Shepard is excited to get works by the artists represented in the donation, especially as the museum celebrates 100 years.
“You look down the list and you think, 'Man, it's like going to the candy store with your shopping list and enough money to get it all,'” he says.
Fendel also curated her collection well, Shepard says. She displayed the pieces in her homes in Manhattan and Florida, and photos of how she arranged the works inspired how they will be seen in the museum.
Among artists in the Fendel/Rosenbach exhibition is Latchezar Boyadjiev, who will also have a solo exhibition opening July 24 at the museum. A third glass exhibition, “Reflections: Glass at FWMoA of the Last Decade,” will feature pieces from the museum's collection.
The Journal Gazette Foundation is a sponsor of all three glass exhibits, which close Oct. 3.
For information on other exhibitions, go to FWMoA.org.
If you go
What: “A Love of Light: The Fendel/Rosenbach Collection,” “Movement: Glass Sculptures by Latchezar Boyadjiev” and “Reflections: Glass at FWMoA of the Last Decade”
When: July 24 to Oct. 3; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 E. Main St.
Admission: $8 adults, $6 students and seniors, $20 families; free from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays