I was surprised a few days ago when Jordan Schnitzer called to ask me to say a few words at a Press Conference announcement of his generous $5 Million Dollar donation he is giving Portland State University to develop a ground floor Museum in Neuberger Hall. William Dann and Nick Hodges from Wacker Architects were behind the design, which will be visible from both Broadway Avenue and the Park Blocks.
The well attended morning Press Conference apparently made the newspapers and nightly new, according to many friends who saw me.
I followed Jordan to the podium and briefly talked about my days as both a grad student and an Associate Professor as well as a Fountain gallery represented artist, showing for the first time at Jordan's mother Arlene’s gallery just a few weeks after graduation in 1976. I made the audience laugh when I shared that, being closer in age to me, I always liked it when Jordan attended a gallery event because, in the early days, I was terrified of his mother!
The experience caused me to reflect that I had actually broken two glass ceilings in those early days of my career.
The first came when I was asked to take over my Thesis Professor Fred Klein’s Life Drawing class after he suddenly died of a heart attack the final year of my MFA program. At the time, no other female faculty member was teaching an upper division class, which Life Drawing was. Having been the first in my family to go to college, my new salary was many times above my waitress pay, which I had been doing to help pay my tuition. I immediately began appreciating the value of a college education!
The second glass ceiling was when I was asked to be in a New Artist Introduction exhibit at the Fountain Gallery. Since this was Portland’s only successful commercial gallery at the time, run by Jordan’s mother Arlene Schnitzer, it was a huge honor. My work in that exhibit got good attention and sales and I immediately became a Fountain Gallery represented artist, the first of my peer group. When discussing with Jordan who else on the PSU Faculty was represented by the Fountain, of all my former professors, I realized I was again the only woman!!