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Art collector Bruce Brown and Colby professor Véronique Plesch to speak

Bruce Brown, one of Maine’s foremost art collectors and curators, and Véronique Plesch, a Colby College professor and authority on Italian art, will offer separate lectures at Bates College on two Wednesdays in May.

Brown gives a presentation titled “Art from Two Sides: Collector and Curator” on May 13. He is known statewide as the Freeport high school teacher whose teaching of Maine studies in the 1970s led to his becoming one of the preeminent collectors of contemporary Maine art. Loans of art from his collection have enriched a variety of museum and gallery exhibitions, including major shows at the Portland Museum of Art and Colby. In 2007, Arts and Antiques Magazine named Brown one of America’s significant art collectors.

Brown is curator emeritus of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, in Rockport, where he served from 1987 to 2006. His Bates visit is in conjunction with the course “Building a Studio Practice,” taught by Jessica Gandolf, lecturer in art and visual culture.

On May 20, Plesch offers a talk called “Taking Italy Home: Souvenirs of the Grand Tour.” Plesch is a leading scholar on Italian and French art of the late medieval and early Renaissance periods, and is known particularly for her work reading the graffiti etched into the frescoes of Italian churches.

An additional interest of hers has been collecting the art and memorabilia of a phenomenon called the Grand Tour, the lengthy journey throughout Europe that for decades was considered essential to the education of wealthy young people.

Eight years ago, Plesch co-curated “Souvenirs of the Grand Tour,” an exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art that included pieces from her collection. Her talk at Bates will describe that project as it relates to “Desiring Italy,” a Bates course taught by Rebecca Corrie, Phillips Professor of Art and Visual Culture, that deals with the emergence of the study of Italian art at the intersections of the Grand Tour and expatriate life in 19th- and 20-century Italy.

  • Brown speaks Wednesday, May 13, at 7 p.m.
  • Olin Arts Center, Room 104, 75 Russell St.
  • Plesch speaks Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m.
  • Olin Arts Center, Room 104, 75 Russell St.


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