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Letter to the Editor: Lawyer decries failure to lend VSB artwork

Dear Editor,

I am a member of the Virginia State Bar and request that my letter be published in your publication. I recently learned that the VSB has an art collection, many pieces of which were donated to honor past VSB presidents. Unbeknownst to some of the donors, the executive director of VSB has a policy not to lend any of the pieces in the VSB’s collection to galleries wishing to showcase a particular artist’s work. Let me explain further.

Judy Bumgardner is a dear friend of mine, and she is the widow of Jim Bumgardner. The VSB owns a drawing of Mr. Bumgardner’s entitled “Deltaville 1992,” which I believe was donated to the VSB by the Newport News Bar Association. An important retrospective of the works of this highly regarded Virginia artist is being held at Longwood University beginning April 14. Mr. Bumgardner was former dean of the VCU School of the Arts and taught there for over 30 years. His art is known around the world.

The executive director of the VSB was asked to loan Mr. Bumgardner’s work for the exhibition and she declined that request. It is a tremendous shame that this piece of art will not be shared with the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am certain the artist would be extremely dismayed with the executive director’s decision to shelter his work permanently at the office of the State Bar where only an exclusive few can view it. Some of Mr. Bumgardner’s works owned by the Federal Reserve Bank, Owens Minor, VCU, Dominion Energy, and the North Carolina Museum of Art, to name a few, have been lent to this exhibition.

I believe the executive director has suggested to others that a photograph of the drawing could be displayed in the place of the original. What a shame it would be to display such a photograph with the explanation that the VSB refused the request to lend the original to Longwood for the exhibition. I dare say that the executive director’s policy is not in the best interests of the legal community, the art community nor the citizens of the Commonwealth at large.

Personnel at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts would have insured the work, packaged and transported it and replaced it with another work of art while the original was on loan. These procedures are standard in the art community which has the obligation to protect, preserve and present the works of artists such as Mr. Bumgardner. Too bad “Deltaville 1992” will not be seen by the people who will enjoy the exhibition at Longwood University. The VSB should be proud to participate in such an event and not withhold Mr. Bumgardner’s work.

 

Elizabeth P. Coughter

Deltaville