PROFILE: GLORIA GROOM

Gloria with French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud being awarded the Medal of Chevalier in the Legion d’Honneur.
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Gloria at a recent trip to Bordeaux for the Redon conference – a new center featuring a library of wines from around the world. Photo courtesy of Gloria Groom.
As I continue my personality profiles I find out so many fascinating things about people I think I know.  While Gloria Groom is a friend (love our luncheon get togethers), I know her best from attending events with her and, of course, her amazing exhibitions as Chair of European Painting and Sculpture, David and Mary Winton Green Chair at the Art Institute of Chicago.  These are always done with wit, they bring new knowledge to her audience, (that she, and the staff, gives the audience an insight into many famailiar objects) and great joie de vie.  I always go away happy, informed, bemused, and challenged to learn more.
The last exhibition of the three versions of the Van Gogh bedroom was unbelievable.  I went with a friend and both of us thought we were going to see three different versions of the bedroom, period…silly Nena!  Not only were they hung side by side but totally investigated and actually recreated, not only at the Museum but also at an apartment where you could stay the night.  Amazing…this is the mind of this incrediblely talented creator.  Can’t wait for the next exhibition.  Bravo Gloria!
https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.Md9d7eedecb14c8d3c0053d33a005eb3eo0&pid=15.1&P=0&w=291&h=172
A close up of the three versions, each just slightly different…every detail was explained in great depth.  An extraordinary look at what we all thought was a very familiar painting. A great lesson in art appreciation!
Here Gloria answers my questionnaire…
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
As an art historian?  Probably my junior year in college which I spent in Valencia.  I gravitated towards the art of museums, churches and when I returned wrote a thesis for what was then a “Letters” degree (classical and modern languages and literature ) on Odilon Redon that was well considered by my professors.
As an art historian?  Probably my junior year in college which I spent in Valencia.  I gravitated towards the art of museums, churches and when I returned wrote a thesis for what was then a “Letters” degree (classical and modern languages and literature ) on Odilon Redon that was well considered by my professors.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

Oh, I still am not sure I’ve made it but I have felt ever since leaving for Paris in 1979 on a Rotary Scholarship that doors keep opening and challenge me to move forward.  I’m not sure I understand “made it,” but a high point was the first time I conceived and realized an exhibition that no one else had a role in — this was BEYOND THE EASEL in 2001, and although it went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art it was the visualization of my doctoral thesis — How many PhD’s can say that the work they spent years researching and writing could be presented to a general public?  it was thrilling and I am still hearing from university professors who use the catalogue for their classes.  So yes made it in terms of hitting all the right notes!
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
My passion began with a love of and proclivity for language and literature.  Art history was a by – product since I realized I didn’t want to teach and museums offered an opportunity to draw upon all of my passions in a public forum.  By the time I was working on a masters in Art History (although the first two years I thought I would pursue an MA in Pre-Columbian art) I was volunteering at the museum as a docent and ended up with a minor in Museum Studies and at that point I knew the end game was to be a curator at a museum that would specialize in European Art.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
Oh yes, my first love in High School and the first year of undergraduate studies was fashion and I thought I would be a fashion illustrator and designer.  I sewed from age 12, crocheted, knitted and had a cottage industry in High School making patch work purses, quilts, crocheted vests, and dresses on which I painted designs so that each one was personalized to the person who bought it. I thought I was hot stuff!   Then when I went to university I showed some of my garments at the annual fashion show which was wonderful but the classes themselves were in the Home Economics Department!  That’s when I switched majors to Letters.
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY), TYPE OF MUSIC, LOCAL RESTAURANT/AND-OR TYPE OF FOOD

Performance-wise too many to name — I am a groupie for talent and though a traditionalist seeped in the 19th century I am happy to be surprised, shocked, provoked by a new twist on an old story or a completely new approach to all of the above One of my fondest memories is attending a performance of Stravinsky’s Le Petit Soldat on a peniche at the Canal St Martin.  I have also been fortunate to be friends with musicians from the Symphony and Opera to Punk Rock.

The Joffrey is a jewel and I go whenever I can –this year’s Romeo and Juliet — sublime!

The Lyric continues to amaze me and I love that they have added musicals to their spring repertoire.

HOBBIES….

Art museums, galleries, walking

Duke our Italian greyhound mix, piano, vintage shopping

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

I live in Oak Park which means tradition.  Our house is 1904 not quite yet

devoid of the Victorian (gables, wrap around porch) but with a decided arts and crafts aesthetic, especially seen in the doors and woodwork.   To say our furniture and collecting interests are eclectic is a litote (an understatement) since my husband, Joe Berton, is an avid collector of militaria (uniforms, swords, medals, paintings, photographs, shields) from the late 19th and early 20th largely British (with a special passion for T.E. Lawrence).  We both enjoy acquiring paintings from artist friends whose works are a nice break with the otherwise Victorian aesthetic which reigns.

 

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE (10-12 GUESTS)

First off, it would be catered and someone else would make the dinner since I would never take that on unless I served the same Chicken Marbella with which I regale my family every Christmas Eve.  www.silverpalate.com/recipe/store/favorites/

For the list, I would have to say in chronological order and limiting myself (and my table to 10)
Edouard Manet — who by all accounts was not only a fantastic painter but a master of the bons mots
Marcel Proust – to counterbalance Manet
Misia Godebeska- Natanson-Sert — a muse for all of the artists I admire
Sarah Bernhardt -amazing actress — who lived her passions
T. E. Lawrence for the reasons stated above
Will Rogers – (or Mark Twain) to bring the conversation back to real people
Audrey Hepburn – to see grace personified
Ron Howard -Opie and then master filmmaker whose imagery remains
Gary Trudeau –who makes me laugh no matter what
Adam Gopnik – one of my generation’s greatest flaneur/philosopher
Jesus — to see if he’d be a no-show (and if he did come, to ask him to referee)
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO VISIT
Stresa – deliciously small, friendly and lovely.  I want to spend more time in Italy!
HOW DO YOU  WANT TO BE REMEMBERED
As an enthusiastic and compassionate supporter and sometimes inspirer (nenas note, always an inspirer!!!)
INCLUDE A FAVORITE, OR TWO, RECIPES
Uncle.  I’m so not a cook.
YOUR FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE
Picasso’s untitled monumental sculpture described as Horse or a woman
imageYou can see the profile of The Woman here.

LINKS GLORIA RECOMMENDS

artic.edu in general and more specifically
publications.artic.edu (The Art Institute’s on-line catalogues with in-depth analyses, multi-images and interactive documentation both visual and written for paintings and drawings for many of our 19th-century favorites Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Gauguin…)
http://housingforward.org/ transitional housing — but really any organization that helps end homelessness

BLOGS GLORIA FOLLOWS

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