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Vol 57 No. 7 : April 2005
Vol 57 No. 7 | Apr. 2005
UAM's Lombino Recieves Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship

Mary-Kay Lombino

Mary-Kay Lombino, curator of exhibitions at the University Art Museum, is one of the 2005/2006 recipients of a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship to fund a three-month summer leave of absence this year to research an upcoming exhibition of work by California Symbolist/Surrealist painter Dorr Bothwell.

Dorr Bothwell, Self Portrait Dorr Bothwell, Self Portrait, 1932, oil on board, 27 x 21 in.

“I'm thrilled to receive the fellowship,” said the Los Angeles resident who joined the university in 1999. “I have been thinking about organizing a Dorr Bothwell exhibition for a long time, since before she died in 2000. This fellowship will give me the opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge of her life and work, which will prepare me for the final selection of work to be included in the exhibition.”  

Getty Curatorial Research Fellowships support the professional scholarly development of curators by providing them with time off from regular museum duties to undertake short-term research or study projects that advance the understanding of art and its history. The fellowships are reserved for full-time curators of all nationalities who have a minimum of three years' professional experience and who are employed at museums with art collections. Fellowships support either independent research or museum-related projects, such as exhibitions or catalogues.

Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000) is one of the few artists whose work serves as a link between California and its Modernist past. “Dorr Bothwell: A Survey Exhibition” will be co-organized by Julie Joyce, gallery director of Cal State Los Angeles' Luckman Fine Arts Complex. It will be a comprehensive overview of the work of an artist who, along with such pioneering figures as Wallace Berman, Lorser Feitelson, Helen Lundeberg, Lee Mullican and others helped form the Surrealist movement in California in the late 1930s through the early 1950s, but whose achievements are greatly under-recognized.

Lombino's research will range from the American Archives of Art housed in a branch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to Pasadena's Huntington Library.

“I wouldn't call this difficult because I love this sort of thing,” she said. “It's fun for me to interview her old friends and her nephew as well as members of the Mendocino Art Center where Bothwell taught for many years. I'll be having a great time listening to all their stories. But it is hard work all the same.”

Lombino spoke to the artist before her death at age 98 in 2000 and prior to that when she included Bothwell in a big group show titled “Pacific Dreams: Currents of Surrealism in California Art” in 1995 while working for the UCLA Hammer Museum as a curator.

Dorr Bothwell, Self Portrait Dorr Bothwell, Self Portrait, 1940, oil on canvas.

“She was honored to be included in the exhibition, which impressed me. She was very modest,” she said.

“We have a long relationship with the Getty,” added Lombino. “They know the University Art Museum and its track record.” The UAM has received a Getty Summer Internship each year for five years to support an intern for 10 weeks in the summer. “That has been fantastic,” she said.

Lombino received her master's from USC in Art History and Museum Studies in 1995. She went on to work at UCLA as a research assistant in the Wight Art Gallery and continued as a curator when it merged with the Hammer Museum the following year.

“I've received lots of grants for exhibitions but nothing like this,” she said. “The fellowship is designed brilliantly because the Getty knows very well how busy curators can be and how that can draw a curator away from in-depth research. In terms of getting out of the office to do travel and research, this is a unique opportunity.”
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