BRENTWOOD, CA, October 31, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Lanier Graham with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Mr. Graham celebrates many years' experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Lanier Graham is a well-known name in the art world, with more than 50 years of professional experience. He is best known as a museum curator, having served in senior positions at four world-class museums. He also has earned distinction as an author, poet, artist, editor, publisher, planner, collector, donor, and professor. In the minds of his museum colleagues, he will be remembered for his groundbreaking exhibitions, and for the remarkable number of important paintings he has helped bring to public collections.
From his point of view, other aspects of his museum work have been of more long-range importance. As Chief Curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), he played a major role in elevating its standing from a modest national position to one of the Top 10. As a professor of Museum Studies since the 1960s, he has trained generations of young people to become curators. A number have reached senior museum positions in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
By means of his work on the Ethics Committee of the College Art Association and other professional groups during the 1970s he and his generation of curators helped change the art museum in the United States from being an institution with noble intentions but limited social commitments, and no Code of Ethics, to being a fully committed public service organization devoted to true diversity and social justice.
During his service at the National Gallery of Australia in the 1980s, because of his work on the American Code, he was asked to coauthor the Australian Code of Ethics for Museums. That document moved the standard language of national Codes from platitudes to penalties, and was foundational to the first ethical code of the International Council of Museums.
Graham decided to be a curator because he feels art museums in the modern world have become secular temples of sacred values. While many have turned away from traditional religion, millions are still drawn to the spiritual dimensions of art. In Graham's mind, all works of art have some spiritual value. Great works of art have considerable spiritual value. To experience great art from around the world in one place is an extraordinary opportunity to increase one's global vision, and to expand one's humanity by developing greater respect for other cultures.
Almost 25% of adult Americans now visit art museums every year. Before World War II, few Americans visited art museums. After the war, that changed dramatically. In 1962 about 20 million adults visited an art museum. In 2000 over 100 million did. In 2018, according to the American Alliance of Museums: "There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined." Before long that figure probably will be a billion.
Graham's contributions to art museums have been considerable, so too his decades of teaching Art History and Museum Studies, and his work as President of the Institute for Aesthetic Development (IAD), a center for the advanced study of cultural planning & art education. It is a measure of his reputation that Graham is one of only a handful of art historian/curators profiled in both WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA and WHO'S WHO IN THE WORLD.
His undergraduate education began at Kenyon College 1958-1960. He took a year off to study Leonardo in Europe, where his mentor was A. E. Popham, a leading Leonardo authority. Graham then completed his undergraduate studies at American University in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. in International Political & Cultural Relations in 1963.
Graham knew he wanted a career in cultural affairs, but what exactly? He considered UNESCO, the Foreign Service, etc. He decided he wanted to be both an art museum curator and a professor. To prepare for this dual career, he did his graduate work at Columbia University and New York University. His primary professors were Meyer Schapiro and Rudolf Wittkower. Columbia awarded his M.A. in Art History in 1966. He then did Advanced Museum Studies at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.
In 1965 he began his career at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as a Ford Fellow, and rose rapidly through the curatorial ranks. He worked for Arthur Drexler, Director of the Department of Architecture & Design. His mentor was Alfred Barr. By 1968, he was Associate Curator of Architecture & Design, and Supervisor of the Architecture & Design division of the Bliss International Study Center where he developed the educational programs including internships. It was at MoMA that Graham first achieved international prominence with his Hector Guimard exhibition which travelled to San Francisco, Toronto, and Paris.
Graham also served on the board of the Association d'Etude et de Défense de l'Architecture et des Arts Décoratifs du XXe Siecle, the organization that placed into the Paris collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs the world's largest group of Art Nouveau objects and drawings by Guimard. Guimard's remarkable architecture & design in the years around 1900 had been under-appreciated. His buildings and world-famous Paris subway stations were being demolished. After the MoMA exhibition in Paris in 1971, Guimard's surviving structures were declared "historic monuments" and preserved for posterity.
Graham then was invited to join the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco which was starting the process of merging the de Young Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, museums centered on Old Masters. The museums did merge and became the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. There he was both Curator-in-Charge of Paintings & Sculpture (Renaissance to Modern), and Assistant Director/Chief Curator in charge of Collections, Exhibitions, & Publications (1970-1976).
Ian White, the energetic and skillful first Director of FAMSF, thought of the MoMA model as a good way for he and Graham to work together. Like the Director of MoMA, René d'Harnoncourt, White focused on general policy & administration, the trustees, public relations, and of course funding. White also had charge of the blockbuster shows such as Van Gogh and King Tut, and most importantly guided the merger process brilliantly. Like Alfred Barr at MoMA, Graham as Chief Curator focused on supervising the curatorial programs. The two men worked very well together. They were known as the "Dynamic Duo."
Graham's first major project was designing a master plan to combine the collections of the two museums by national schools. The Legion became a totally French museum, the first in the United States. All the other national schools were combined at the de Young: Italian, Flemish, Dutch, British, and American. In an under-used part of the de Young Graham began planning new American Galleries, while nearby innovative tribal galleries of Africa, Oceania, & the Americas were being planned.
Graham elected to purchase only major paintings. Graham searched for paintings to function as what he called the "spiritual center" of each of the newly integrated galleries. He started with the Early Renaissance because this is where the modern Western Mind begins, and FAMSF had nothing to show. Fate brought Graham to an exquisite "Virgin & Child" by Bouts from the middle of the 15th century. It sings of the Humanism of the Northern Renaissance Art started by Van Eyck and Van der Weyden.
To the center of the French Renaissance Gallery came a sensuous "Venus & Cupid" from the Ecole de Fontainebleau. To the center of the French Baroque Gallery came a luminous "Holy Family" by Vouet. For the gallery that completes the Legion's chronological survey of French art, Graham managed to acquire (as a finale) one of Monet's best "Water Lilies." That great painting is still the most visited work at the Legion.
The most visited work at the de Young is still Church's "Rainy Season in the Tropics," one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Romantic era. Graham wanted this now famous masterpiece to be the heart of the new American Galleries. The Board needed some convincing but finally agreed that the painting was worth a world record price. It was this dramatic purchase that caused John D. Rockefeller 3rd to call and ask if San Francisco might like to have his collection. That 1970 phone call was the start of many years of conversations.
Then Graham turned to making temporary exhibitions of each combined school of painting. The first was American (1970-71), for which he also wrote the catalogue. Later came Flemish, Dutch, and British exhibitions from the combined collections. Then he focused on loan exhibitions. The first was French Art that Graham selected from the Norton Simon collections (1973-75). Graham also edited the two-volume catalogue and wrote a long Introduction.
FAMSF began its life in 1970 in the odd position of having no publications program of any kind. Both the de Young and the Legion were "on hold" with programs while they considered whether or not to merge. Starting from scratch, Graham envisioned and developed one of the most successful museum publishing programs in the country. Best remembered is THE ART OF ANDREW WYETH of 1974 conceived and edited by Wanda Corn. Graham invited Corn to do the book. He then supervised its creation and persuaded the New York Graphic Society to be co-publisher. The book sold over 700,000 copies.
Graham's last major exhibition, The Rainbow Show in the Spring of 1975, was designed to bring underserved audiences to the two museum buildings that they rarely if ever visited, by means of displays of contemporary community-oriented art. Graham knew there would be blowback since the FAMSF trustees had only reluctantly approved Graham's "radical" proposal that contemporary art be exhibited at FAMSF.
But Graham believed deeply in the purpose of the exhibition and pressed ahead. He was inspired by what he learned about community relations while working with Angela Davis in New York during the late '60s to help MoMA be more democratic. The Rainbow Show was indeed controversial, but it did the job. The print critics did not like it at all, but the public did. It broke all attendance records, and encouraged the FAMSF Trustees to expand their vision of how to best serve the community as a whole.
One who admired FAMSF's efforts to expand its public service was John D. Rockefeller 3rd. Graham and White were concerned that negative press generated by The Rainbow Show might affect the plans they had made with Mr. Rockefeller to exhibit his collection in 1976. Mr. Rockefeller said it did not. In fact, on the opening night of his exhibition he told Graham that The Rainbow Show reinforced his perception of FAMSF as "a particularly democratic institution."
Mr. Rockefeller had followed the example of his parents to become one of the most thoughtful art patrons in American history. He had donated his extraordinary Asian collection to Asia House in New York and was wondering what to do with his American collection which was then the most important private collection in the world. For six years (1970-1976) Graham and White were in secret negotiations with Mr. Rockefeller, discussing the shaping and final disposition of his collection. Those long, rich conversations, and then editing E. P. Richardson's 1976 catalogue of Mr. Rockefeller's exhibition at the de Young Museum, were among the most stimulating experiences in Graham's career. The most satisfying of all his curatorial moments came when Mr. Rockefeller announced at a press conference in January 1978 that the entire collection was being donated to San Francisco.
After leaving FAMSF to start the Institute for Aesthetic Development, his curatorial appointments were Curator of Prints & Illustrated Books, National Gallery of Australia, 1984-1987, and Curator (Renaissance to Modern), Norton Simon Museum, 1987-1991. With this wealth of experience, Graham particularly enjoyed being an advisor to such famous collectors as John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Norton Simon, and Armand Hammer.
In 1984, Graham was recruited for a dual appointment at the new National Gallery in Canberra which Queen Elizabeth had recently dedicated. His three-year contract called for being the Curator of International Prints & Illustrated Books, and to give advanced training in Museum Studies to the junior curators. During his time as a visiting curator, he greatly expanded the collection, and wrote an important book on a little explored dimension of the aesthetics and the spirituality of Abstract Expressionism: THE SPONTANEOUS GESTURE: PRINTS & BOOKS OF THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST ERA (1987).
In 1986, Graham was invited by Norton Simon (for whom Graham had worked as a consultant for several years), to be his full-time curator at the museum he had established in Pasadena, near Los Angeles. Mr. Simon was the last great collector of Old Master European paintings. The most important of Renaissance & Baroque paintings had entered public collections by the 1960s when Simon entered the market. Of those that were still available Mr. Simon purchased many. The situation was similar with Modern "Old Masters" which Mr. Simon acquired with equal passion for this half of his collection. Most popular are the Impressionist & Post-Impressionist masterpieces, including many sculptures by Degas and an astonishing group of seven Van Gogh's (six paintings and an etching). Even the Getty, when it later entered the market seriously with its billions of dollars, could never "catch up" with what Simon had assembled with a great deal of money and an extraordinary eye. Simon left the world a "jewel box."
Again, Graham's appointment was a dual appointment. Half his salary was paid by the Museum to be a curator. Half his salary was paid by the Norton Simon Foundation to do strategic planning on Public Art Education. Graham's first task was to rehang the Modern Collection on the ground floor in an historical order (replacing Mr. Simon's personal arrangement), and to write new labels to reach more people.
He also evaluated options to purchase. Graham said "no" to a Courbet. A version of Renoir's famous "Dance at le Moulin de la Galette" (1876) came up for auction in 1990. Graham's recommendation was "yes". The auction house, Sotheby's, had flown in the Renoir for Mr. Simon to see. When asking Graham's opinion, Mr. Simon fondly remembered when he was the first person to ever pay $1 million for a painting at auction (a Renoir in the 1960s). Then he said, with deep sadness in his voice: "They are estimating $70 million, and I only have $50 million!" It did sell for $78 million.
Graham also was asked to increase the reach of the Exhibitions Program. In upstairs spaces that had never been used for temporary exhibitions, Graham greatly expanded the scope, press coverage, and attendance of the Exhibitions Program by curating "DREAMING IN COLOR: THE ART OF MATISSE" (1989), "VINCENT VAN GOGH: PAINTER, PRINTMAKER, COLLECTOR" (1990), and "IMPOSSIBLE REALITIES: MARCEL DUCHAMP & THE SURREALIST TRADITION" (1991). Graham also created in the downstairs galleries a series of monographic exhibitions featuring for the first time at the Norton Simon Museum (NSM) masters of modern photography (Atget, Bravo, Weston, and Sommer). Graham also designed and developed a TV PSA for the Museum which ran every day for years – another first in museum outreach.
Simon was a Republican and a "compassionate conservative." He was democratic with a small "d", and a true humanist. Hence the second job Mr. Simon wanted Graham to do: "Investigate how electronic media could be used to expand Public Art Education to the entire population. Explore all options: Broadcast TV? Cable TV? Video? Commercial films? Present a concise history of each format, including a cost/benefit analysis, and make recommendations to the Foundation for possible action." Graham studied the whole history of Art Education via electronic media, and made this recommendation: The Foundation should buy a cable TV channel and produce original educational programming, not only for students but also for a wide popular audience. Mr. Simon was interested but not convinced. No action was taken by the Foundation.
Printed publications were added to Graham's portfolio a year after he arrived. He proposed restarting the publications program with (1) a general handbook which was written by all three NSM curators, and (2) a Van Gogh handbook (which was written by Graham). The success of those two books sparked a continuing series of scholarly catalogues under the brilliant editorship of Sara Campbell who became the NSM Director after Mr. Simon passed away.
For the Duchamp show of 1991, Graham created a "$1 catalogue" just as he had for the King Tut show at the de Young Museum in 1979. That King Tut "guide" sold over 300,000 copies. One of Graham's greatest disappointments as a curator is that his highly democratic and quite profitable low-cost models have changed nothing in a business locked into high-end marketing.
In 1991, with Mr. Simon growing more and more ill, Graham reflected on how much he had enjoyed teaching at UC Berkeley, Naropa University, Colorado, and the California Institute of Asian Studies (now the California Institute of Integral Studies). He decided to become a professor. Ever since, most of his "second career" has been an even mixture of teaching and curating. After taking a year to write a history of World Art and cross-cultural symbolism (in preparation for teaching this subject), in 1993 he was invited to begin teaching World Art, Renaissance Art, and Modern Art at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB).
Then he transferred to Humboldt State University where he taught World Religions and World Mythology in the Religious Studies Department. In 1997, he returned to CSUEB. There he taught Art History and was Director of the University Art Gallery until his retirement from the Art Department in 2010. He continues to be an Adjunct Professor of Museum Studies at CSUEB. However, Graham is spending more and more time in Berkeley at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) where he is donating all of his archives (art history books, poem-books & picture-poems, articles, manuscripts, letters, & journals), and advising the GTU on its museum planning. Most recently he was appointed Honorary Curator of the Sacred World Art Collection of the Graduate Theological Union.
Graham loves the verbal arts almost as much as he loves the visual arts, not only as an author but also as a poet. This part of his word-work has been admired by a wide range of poets from Carl Sandburg to Allen Ginsberg. His East/West haiku (Graham's favorite verse form) has been enjoyed in Japan for many years. His Japanese friends tell him his East/West haiku is a way for them to feel traditional and modern at the same time.
As a visual artist, Graham's work is represented in major museums in the U.S. and Europe including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Getty in Los Angeles. A retrospective exhibition of his visual work is scheduled for 2020 at the GTU. The working title is SPIRIT-MATTER COMBINATIONS: A Theopoetic Exhibition of Portrait-Boxes and Illustrated Poem-Books.
More widely known are his art history monographs. The books he has written or edited in this field have sold over a million copies. The general focus of his research is Western Art from the Renaissance to the mid 20th century with a specializing focus on the Italian High Renaissance and Late Modernism. As a graduate student he took the unusual step of studying both Renaissance Art and Modern Art. He was struck by how many of the symbols of traditional spirituality have continued into modern times. He has written a great deal on this unusual topic, documented by his revealing conversations with many major artists. He and his generation will be remembered for establishing that a secular quest for the Transcendent has always been a central dimension of Modernism, against the established dogma that Modernism had no such interests. Graham studied Cultural History before he settled on Art History. Whether he is writing about Renaissance Art, Modern Art, or World Art, he frames the surveys as chapters in the history of culture and consciousness.
Along the way, he has written hundreds of articles. There are as many articles on Leonardo and Giorgione as there are on De Kooning and Duchamp, and how their thoughts and symbols are connected, how the "now" has developed out of the "then." Graham's work on the Italian Renaissance includes many articles and two exhibition catalogues: GIORGIONE & THE EXPERTS (1993), and LEONARDO'S LIGHT (1995). Graham also has recently completed a book on a little explored aspect of Leonardo's philosophy: LEONARDO & ANDROGYNY: SEXUALITY & ENLIGHTENMENT IN RENAISSANCE ITALY.
A number of his Modern monographs are now standard references. Best known are THE SPONTANEOUS GESTURE: PRINTS AND BOOKS OF THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST ERA (1987), THE PRINTS OF WILLEM DE KOONING: A CATALOGUE RAISONNE (1991), and DUCHAMP & ANDROGYNY: ART, GENDER, AND METAPHYSICS (2003). His most recent work in this field, ZEN & MODERN ART, is now being edited for publication.
Graham also has had a life-long interest in Sacred World Art. His best-selling books have been done with publishers who wanted to bring Sacred World Art to a very wide audience. His first international best-seller was THE RAINBOW BOOK: BEING A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS & ILLUSTRATIONS DEVOTED TO RAINBOWS IN PARTICULAR AND SPECTRAL SEQUENCES IN GENERAL FOCUSING ON THE MEANING OF COLOR (PHYSICALLY & METAPHYSICALLY) FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN TIMES (1975, 1976 and 1979). GODDESSES IN ART (in four languages) appeared in 1997, and is still on the publisher's website.
Graham also was active as one of the first members of what was then a new profession called Cultural Planning. His father, Dr. Graham, encouraged this direction because he had managed the "think tank" of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and was a strong advocate for strategic planning. Dr. Graham later became a professor of management & planning.
In 1970 Dianne Feinstein invited Graham to serve on her San Francisco Urban Planning Task Force. His assigned area was preparing legislation on "visual pollution." He began to think as a cultural planner and started advising museums on long range planning. Cultural Affairs in the U.S. was badly in need of planning during the 1960s. Many new cultural institutions were being started, but billions of dollars were being wasted due to a lack of good strategic planning. Graham wanted to help with a major problem that was restricting the potential of museum education in many ways.
In 1974 Graham was invited by the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a "Center for the Advanced Study of Museums and Visual Education." The institution that Graham designed in response to this invitation was the Institute for Aesthetic Development (IAD), America's first "think tank" for cultural planning. (WWW.INSTITUTEFORAESTHETICDEVELOPMENT.ORG) Graham was president & director of this non-profit for 40 years, and guided its development of many innovative educational models for schools, universities, museums, cultural centers, and television producers.
Those included program plans for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Getty, the Simon, and the Louvre. Graham also wrote complete master plans for new institutions such as the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco (a community-oriented cultural center), and the Headlands Center for the Arts (HCA), at the former Fort Berry, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Marin County. The HCA is an artist-in-residence program which is centered on the "aesthetics of nature" in a wilderness area of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Both those institutions have become international models for transforming old Army bases into dynamic cultural institutions.
The Institute for Aesthetic Development not only was active in the development of new kinds of aesthetic institutions but also was active in expanding our understanding of how aesthetics function in the life of individuals and societies. Aesthetics is a term that derives from a Greek word aisthetikos. The original meaning was "esthetic, sensitive...pertaining to sense perception." Over the centuries, the definition of aesthetics has become narrowly focused by some on "beauty," but also has expanded by others to include "critical reflection on art, culture, and nature." (WIKIPEDIA) In other words, aesthetics as a branch of philosophy and psychology involves not only the study of art, beauty, and their subjective effects, but also the objective study of perception itself and therefore also of consciousness. Perception and consciousness are intimately linked. Consciousness was a forbidden subject within the science of psychology for most of the 20th century. Now it is a major field of research.
If museums are to serve the public fully, curators need to know who is visiting (or not visiting) and why. When IAD began, very little was known about any of this. Now all these areas are active fields of study by psychologists and sociologists.
The pioneering research program of IAD for decades was focused on better understanding the psychology of art education followed by educational products that incorporated new understanding. IAD's "think tank" methodology included as much interdisciplinary activity as possible. The people with whom Graham worked on this research included Gregory Bateson (the noted anthropologist and philosopher); psychologists at UCSF such as Arthur J. Deikman; Joseph Campbell (America's leading mythologist); and Frank Oppenheimer, a physicist and founding director of San Francisco's world-famous "Exploratorium: The Museum of Science, Art, & Human Perception."
From these collaborations have come many pioneering programs and products including two best-selling books (THE RAINBOW BOOK of 1975, 1976, & 1979, and GODDESSES IN ART of 1997), and many other innovative publications, university classes, exhibitions, and TV programs.
In 1974, Graham proposed to the National Endowment for the Humanities and to John D. Rockefeller 3rd (head of the National Committee for the Bicentennial Era) that commercial TV produce a "Bicentennial Minute" to be regularly aired in prime time for a year. Shortly thereafter, IAD produced a 30-second PSA for the exhibition of Mr. Rockefeller's collection of American Art which demonstrated how a "Bicentennial Minute" could look. CBS liked the idea and produced a brilliant Emmy Award winning series. The concept was later continued by the History Channel.
From IAD research teams also have come studies on the bimodal psychology of perception, metalinguistics, and the structure of cultures in which left-brain & right-brain values are (or are not) balanced, and the social consequences of balance and unbalance in our everyday world.
IAD's teaching program focused on helping the new discipline of "Consciousness Studies" become accredited programs of higher education. IAD was asked to help with the accreditation efforts of Naropa University, Colorado, the California Institute of Asian Studies, and the "Art & Consciousness" M.A. program at John F. Kennedy University, California. Graham later was invited to become adjunct faculty at all three institutions.
In a 1979 international survey of people working at the fluid borders of art, science, and consciousness by Itsuo Sakane (Honorary editor of LEONARDO, MIT Press), Graham's work at IAD was associated with that of well-known leaders in this arena such as David Bohm, Fritjof Capra, Gyorgy Kepes, Ernst Gombrich, Robert Ornstein, and Frank Oppenheimer.
For many generations, Graham's family has collected art. He was raised in a richly aesthetic atmosphere. His first book-length study in 1966 was a biography of his ancestor Nicholas Lanier (1588-1666). Nicholas Lanier was a Renaissance Man: musician, painter, printmaker, and collector of Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings for himself and others. He was the primary artistic advisor to King Charles I of England as that king formed the most important royal collection of the age. From that legendary art collection (after the execution of Charles I) came much of the present core of the Prado in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris.
Graham's own collecting has followed two lines – private and public. The works he inherited from his grandparents and great grandparents (such as Greek coins, ancient Egyptian and Mesoamerican amulets, and portraits of his ancestors during the Renaissance & Baroque eras) are personal collections he has treasured and added to since childhood. But most of his collecting has had a public purpose.
Graham was born into a family of richly diverse spirituality. His paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister and circuit rider in the Old West serving both Euro-Americans and Indians. His "Doctrine of the Double Feather" proclaimed "God and the Great Spirit are the same." His mother's parents were Catholic and Theosophists. They saw the Light-of-God in all religions. Graham's Godmother, Prabhaprana, headed the Vedanta convent in Santa Barbara. Her teacher was a disciple of Vivekananda. She also encouraged the study of World Religions. So did Graham's Godfather, Arthur B. B. MacLeMore, who was considered the wisest man in their congregation at St. Paul's Episcopal church in Oakwood, Ohio. He described himself as an "Alchemical Celtic Christian with shamanic roots." Their minister, Rev. Kocher, and MacLeMore together decided Graham should be given special training to prepare him for "ministry" (ordained or unordained). Graham's parents agreed. That monthly schooling on Sundays (joy-full afternoons for young Graham from the ages of 13 to 18) became a kind of second high school at MacLeMore's home. The walls were filled with picture-poems by Blake. The library spoke of every subject. It was a wonder-land! MacLeMore (whom Graham called "Merlin") not only taught Graham the history of World Religions and Sacred World Art, he also guided Graham's collecting instincts in the direction of Sacred World Art. Every year on Graham's birthday and on the Winter Solstice ("the World's birthday") his Godfather gave Graham a very small sculpture (no more than 1 inch high) from one of the World Religions to form a "Miniature Museum of World Art." That tiny table-top museum (which Graham still treasures and keeps on his desk) led to much of Graham's later life being devoted to collecting art with a larger purpose.
He began teaching Sacred World Art in 1960 as a student-teacher at Kenyon College. In one way or another, he has been teaching that subject ever since. He never wanted to teach art history with only slides and books. Therefore, he has always brought original art into the classroom. After decades of teaching World Art and World Religions, this teaching collection grew to several hundred pieces. It also expanded to include fine examples of the visual art of World Religions and the tribal roots from which they all developed.
For advice on how to conceptualize the collection and give it the best possible educational structure, he approached his long-time advisor, Huston Smith, America's best-known professor of comparative religion. Smith determined that this collection was unique, and could serve as the core of America's first teaching museum of sacred world art. Smith suggested Graham contact the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, one of the most widely respected interfaith institutions of its kind, and one with a serious interest in the relationship between art and spirituality.
It turns out the GTU had been dreaming of having a teaching museum of Sacred World Art. The two dreams shook hands. The entire collection, 60 years in the making, has now been donated to the Graduate Theological Union. Within the GTU Library, they are developing a museum both physically and digitally. The GTU, like many seminaries, has been teaching Theology & the Arts for years, but only with slides and illustrated books. They did not have a teaching collection of visual art. Now they do. The GTU digital museum will serve the whole world.
The former President of the GTU, Riess Potterveld, in accepting this donation, described their Sacred World Art Collection and their innovative museological plans as "one of the most significant new developments in theological education nationally and globally."
Graham's wife and partner is Gloria K. Smith. She is a retired educator, an activist, and a philanthropist. They live in Northern California. Graham's daughter Jennifer, her husband Zae Ulrich (a gifted painter), and their children Kai and Kenzie, also live in California.
Graham and his wife both as private individuals and as board members of the Institute for Aesthetic Development, have donated hundreds of works of art to various museums, universities, and religious organizations. These institutions have been selected because they have aesthetic experience at their core.
Graham and his wife own and co-manage two small publishing companies. He is the publisher. She is the editor. WORLD ART PRESS, LLC (WAP) publishes educational materials for students. Started in 1988, most of the WAP brochures and study guides have been distributed free of charge. Two WAP study guides grew into substantial art history books: DUCHAMP & ANDROGYNY (2003), co-published with NO-THING PRESS, and GLOBAL VISION: A SURVEY of WORLD ART in three volumes (2006, 2008, & 2010). The website is WORLDARTPRESS.COM. This site is password-protected because it holds copyrighted courses for online students. POEM-BOOK PRESS publishes limited edition books of illustrated poetry.
All of Graham's work is nourished by a philosophy, one that has developed over half a century of teaching World Art and World Religions. He feels there is a universal desire for people to attain the fullness of their humanity. To do that requires a linkage between individual reality and Transcendent reality. The teaching at the core of all the great spiritual traditions, all the Wisdom Paths, is that to attain this linkage we must bring together inside ourselves reason & intuition, left-brain & right-brain, head & heart, and in the process transform selfishness into service. Graham is convinced that part of the attraction of museums is that they satisfy people's deep thirst to feel connected with wider realities beyond themselves.
In college, Graham became very interested in Psychological Anthropology under the inspiration of Gregory Bateson with whom he would work closely during the late 1970s on bimodal theory. Graham's senior thesis at the School of International Service was "The System of Satisfaction: Towards a Theory of Personality and Culture as Interacting Systems." (1963) His communications professor wanted him to deliver that paper at the annual conference of the American Psychology Association. Graham declined that invitation as he was preparing for graduate school in Art History. But he never lost interest in psycho-social theory.
That interest deepened during the 1970s as he learned about the left/right brain model developed by Roger Sperry who won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for this revolutionary discovery of how reality is perceived and processed. Sperry also led the whole brain-mind community (which had refused to acknowledge consciousness as worthy of study) into accepting that the study of consciousness is more than important – it is essential. Sperry was interested in the bimodal theories Graham had formulated, particularly the structure of the split-bodied Androgyne in sacred world art, the subjective "Index of Interhemispheric Coherence," and the bimodal structure of culture and consciousness during the Great Ages of human history. Sperry encouraged Graham to continue working on both particular aspects of the brain-mind and the general nature of consciousness.
Integrating the leading edge of brain science with a lifetime of work in Art History, Cultural History, and Comparative Religion led Graham to expand his theory of "personality and culture" into a theoretical perspective on core values which has guided his work as a curator and as a professor. Here is the outline of this theory.
"In modern society, where left-brain, rationalistic values dominate much of life, deep aesthetic experience can strengthen our neglected intuitive capacity to feel, and to trust the truth of our intuition. Art in peoples' lives helps to bring both sides of the mind into harmonious balance. The absence of art in peoples' lives tends to perpetuate left-brain, ego-centered societies. The left-brain mode of linear perception individualizes, singularizes, separates one thing from another. It also can separate people from each other, and people from nature, and people from the Transcendent. The right-brain mode of intuitive perception integrates, synthesizes, unifies. It brings perceptual elements together, and it brings people together. If a culture is dominated by left-brain ways of seeing, the ego is held in place by the excessive weight of separatist assumptions. Such a psychological system traps individuals inside the confines of their own ego. This psycho-social condition activates the existential condition that haunts the modern world, a world where people feel alone, isolated, incomplete, unfulfilled. Only well-developed intuition can free people from this prison.
"As for theological education, the growing development of 'theopoetics' is putting the power of art closer to the center of how people train to be spiritual guides. Traditional theology is thinking about the Transcendent. Theopoetics (or poetic theology) is feeling linkage with the Transcendent and celebrating that feeling in art, poetry, and music. An old story is told in Japan among Zen Buddhists and Shinto priests: 'We have no theology. We dance!'
"Without well-developed intuition, our awareness cannot grasp what it is to feel fully connected with family, or with community, or with all that lies beyond the usual egocentric idea of 'self'. The Transcendent is higher than 'little me'. Profound aesthetic experience opens the heart and stimulates our consciousness to ascend to the 'higher me' who is part of all that is. I like to suggest to my students 'Beauty is the intoxicating aroma of divinity.' "
In recognition of outstanding contributions to his profession and the Marquis Who's Who community, Mr. Graham has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
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