Sandra Blake-Leonard ‘65 Establishes Lecture Series at UMaine’s Museum of Art to Honor Her Late Husband, Ted Leonard ‘65September 3rd, 2008
Sandra Blake-Leonard ’65, who, along with her late husband Ted Leonard, were instrumental in bringing the University of Maine Museum of Art to downtown Bangor, has established a lecture series at the museum in memory of Ted.
By hosting artists, scholars and speakers to lead discussions about the exhibits at the University of Maine Museum of Art (UMMA), the Leonard Lecture Series will provide an opportunity for the community to better understand the artwork and gain insight into the artist’s inspiration and processes, according to UMMA Director George Kinghorn.
“It will allow us to greatly enhance our educational offerings to the community, and in addition, cultivate new audiences for the museum and provide a deeper understanding of the art,” he said, adding that he plans to bring in at least two lecturers each year.
“The expectation is that speakers would make a formal presentation in a lecture format and then conduct more intimate informal talks in the gallery. This series will provide attendees the opportunity to hear diverse perspectives and, in many cases, have a dialogue with a lecturer. ”
Praising Sandra for her support, George said she “sees the importance of the arts in enriching our daily lives.”
The only institution owned by the citizens of Maine that houses a permanent art collection of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture, the UMMA consists of more than 6,500 original works including those by Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth.
Sandra said she and Ted, a Bangor attorney who also graduated from UMaine in 1965, were committed to bringing the University’s art collection to Bangor so it would be more accessible to residents. They led the fundraising campaign to relocate the museum, and in 2002 their hard work paid off. The UMMA was relocated to Norumbega Hall, an historic downtown building. Today, it has taken on a new role as a regional fine arts center.
“We thought the art collection really belonged to the people of Maine and that they should be able to enjoy it and everything the museum has to offer,” said Sandra, a longtime patron of the arts. “Now that it’s located in downtown, it truly is a public museum.”
The UMaine museum also has proven to be a wonderful economic development tool, according to Sandra, an investment broker who is active in community affairs and serves on a number of committees including the University of Maine Board of Visitors, the University of Maine President’s Development Council, and the University of Maine Foundation.
“It’s another reason for people to come to downtown Bangor,” she said, recalling that previous exhibits of works by Ansel Adams and Maine printmakers “brought in people from everywhere.
“Cultural tourism is definitely on the rise these days,” she added.
Determined to make a lasting gift in memory of Ted, Sandra said the idea of a lecture series appealed to her because “it could continue in perpetuity and not be tied to a particular place.
“If the museum should ever have a new home, it won’t matter. The lecture series will go on.”
An art collector herself, Sandra said she and Ted enjoyed traveling to galleries around the state where they would find works by young, up-and-coming Maine artists. They amassed a deeply personal collection of paintings, photographs and prints.
Everyone needs to experience art, according to Sandra. “It’s really representative of our collective history. It’s always art that tells the most about people, whether it’s cave paintings, pottery or music. Art is wrapped up in the whole identity of humankind and who we are.”Posted in News