Art For Joy and Beauty's Sake

October 1, 1998

Mary Ann Travis

Ann Meehan wants more people to enjoy art. And she hopes they'll enjoy it at the Newcomb Art Gallery at Woldenberg Art Center. "My goal is to make the gallery accessible," says the gallery's newly hired senior curator and registrar.

Meehan wants to reach out to the New Orleans community as well as to people in other departments on campus. While the gallery is a tremendous resource for faculty and students in the Newcomb Art Department, Meehan thinks scientists, engineers, doctors, musicians, historians--people in all fields--will find pleasure there.

"After you have finished your day, when you have crunched the numbers, seen all your clients, done all that you need to do," says Meehan, "art is something you can do that brings joy and brings beauty to your life."

Meehan will organize exhibits and plan programs for traveling exhibitions such as the current Marsden Hartley painting exhibit. Hartley (1877--1943) was one of America's most important early 20th-century American painters, "a modernist who brought avant-garde European ideas to the United States at a time when the country was not yet a center of world culture," according to the exhibition's brochure. Meehan spent seven years as curator of education at the New Orleans Museum of Art before she took the job at Newcomb. She knows that terms like "modernist" and "avant-garde" can be intimidating to people not well-versed in the arts.

"Art is like a foreign language," she says. But Meehan strives to make gallery-going comfortable. "I would like people to come here and not be afraid," she says.

Meehan will be in charge of some educational outreach programs for school children and teachers, and she'll assist in coordinating symposia like the Nov. 14 interdisciplinary program on Hartley in the Freeman Auditorium of the Woldenberg Art Center. The half-day Hartley symposium, organized by art history professor Michael Plante, will feature speakers from outside Tulane, including Jonathan Weinberg from Yale University, Patricia McDonnell from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, and Donna Cassidy from the University of Southern Maine.

Tulane English professors Amy Koritz and Rebecca Mark, along with Plante, will also contribute to the program, which will explore Hartley's art and its historical context. A native of upstate New York, Meehan earned her bachelor's in art history and communication from Newcomb in 1988 and her master's in art history from Tulane in 1992. She studied in summer-abroad programs as an undergraduate in Florence, Italy, and as a graduate student in Cambridge, England.

Nancy Corwin, director of the Newcomb Art Gallery, says that Meehan "will be a wonderful, lively, innovative addition to our staff." Another new staff member at the Newcomb Art Gallery is Rives Sexton, a public relations and financial assistant. Sexton, who has a master of business administration, was treasurer of the Warehouse District Arts Association in New Orleans before she joined the gallery.

Sally Main, the longtime senior curator and exhibition coordinator who designed and installed the Hartley exhibit, will continue to oversee the gallery's Newcomb Collection, which includes the historic Newcomb Pottery and other art objects from the college's Arts and Crafts days. Main also continues to manage the Newcomb Art Department's Carroll Gallery for faculty and student exhibitions. "I'm delighted to finally have our great team in place," says Corwin.

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