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Entrances and Exits

Bober leaving Blanton; Schmidt retires from UT Theatre & Dance

By Robert Faires, Fri., Feb. 11, 2011

Jonathan Bober
Jonathan Bober

Looks like we've hit one of those periodic shifts in Austin's cultural landscape in which a number of personnel changes take place in a short time. First, it was Dana Friis-Hansen leaving the Austin Museum of Art and Ken Stein leaving the Austin Theatre Alliance. Now comes word of another pair of major departures at the University of Texas. Over in the Department of Theatre & Dance, Robert Schmidt has retired after 28 years on the faculty. An accomplished scenic designer whose work has been seen in productions from Alabama to Hong Kong, Schmidt also served the department as an administrator succeeding Richard Isackes as interim chair in 2006, then as full chair in 2008. With his wife, Penny, Schmidt has created an endowment to provide support for students and faculty in the Theatre Design program. He leaves with professor emeritus status as the Frank Erwin Jr. Centennial Professor in Drama.

Meanwhile, at the Blanton Museum of Art, Jonathan Bober is resigning as senior curator of European art to take the post of curator and head of the Department of Old Master Prints at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It's almost impossible to overstate the value of Bober's contributions during his 23 years as the Blanton. As related in these pages (see "Renaissance (and Baroque) Man," April 4, 2003), he played a pivotal role in acquiring two of the cornerstones of the Blanton's holdings: the Suida-Manning Collection of Renaissance and baroque art and the 3,000-print Leo Steinberg Collection. As curator of prints, drawings, and European paintings, Bober also acquired more than 7,000 other works of art for the museum, and he exhibited them in ways that illuminated the value of lesser-known artists, the connections between schools and generations of artists, and the significance of printmaking as a medium. Thanks to Bober, Italian Renaissance artist Luca Cambiaso received his first major exhibition in this country and his first scholarly appraisal in English. Bober will leave the Blanton April 30. He will be missed.

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