MADISON, WI.- In 2014, Stephen and Pamela Hootkin loaned 119 works from their considerable contemporary ceramic sculpture collection to the Chazen Museum of Art for a spectacular exhibition, The Human Condition: The Stephen and Pamela Hootkin Collection of Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture. At the close of that engaging and popular exhibition, 43 of the works stayed on at the museum as loans, to eventually become gifts.
Above image: Beth Cavener, L’Amante (detail), 2012, stoneware and and acrylic paint from the Pamela and Stephen Hootkin Collection.
This places the Chazen in the top league of museums with important contemporary ceramic such as the Los Angeles Country Museum (the Smits Collection), the Museum of Fine Art-Houston (The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection plus the Eagle Collection) and others. It is not just a large gift but the works are of exceptional quality and are iconic markers in each artist’s collection.
This was not the first such act of generosity by the Hootkins. In 2012 they donated a wonderful terracotta sculpture by Arnold Zimmerman entitled The Fools’ Congress, Part 2, and later that same year they gave Humiliation by Design by Beth Cavener. In 2013, they enhanced the Chazen’s collection with 15 wood and wire figures by Michael Lucero, and in 2014 they donated the very popular tattooed clay L’Amante also by Beth Cavener.
Twelve of the recently loaned ceramic sculptures were gifted to the museum in October of 2015. At the same time, Stephen and Pamela Hootkin signed a pledge agreement with the University of Wisconsin Foundation that eventually their entire collection of more than 300 works of art will be donated to the Chazen Museum of Art. The entire collection is valued at $5 million.
In honor of the their generosity, the fourth floor gallery in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, which now houses a newly installed permanent exhibition of contemporary ceramic and glass sculpture featuring many of the Hootkins’ donated works and other objects from the museum’s permanent collection, will be known as the Stephen and Pamela Hootkin Gallery.
As a state educational resource, the Chazen Museum of Art is home to the second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin: more than 20,000 works include paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts. Stephen Hootkin, born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and member of the class of 1964, said, “We have seen the Chazen evolve into a world-class museum and we are thrilled that they have taken a major interest in our lifelong passion of contemporary ceramic sculpture. It is a perfect place to allow students, faculty and the general public to share our vision.”
Pamela added, “We are excited that the Chazen will become a destination for people to explore the rich diversity of contemporary ceramics.”
Stephen Hootkin enjoyed a long and fruitful career in New York as a financial advisor, and Pamela Hootkin’s work life centered on corporate finance in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, retail, and fashion industries. While they knew they shared an interest in finance, it wasn’t until after their marriage that they discovered they shared an interest in ceramics as well. The couple began collecting in the 1980s, and as their collection grew, so did their expertise. Over the years, the Hootkins have befriended many of the artists whose work is in their collection, adding a rich dimension to their relationship with this art.
“The Hootkins’ gift makes the Chazen a must-see destination for anyone interested in contemporary sculpture. There is no other collection like it,” said museum director Russell Panczenko.
Text (edited) courtesy of the museum.