Art burned at Sonoma State president’s home tied to scandal

by AryanArtnews
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Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki and her husband said how they were suffocating smoke and burning embers as the flames destroyed the house and all property in the 2017 Tabs Fire. We often talk about miserable stories about whether we have escaped life.

Sakaki reiterated the experience in a video submitted to the academy last week, but distrusted her leadership in a campus sexual harassment and retaliation scandal involving the president and her husband, lobbyist Patrick McCallum. Decided to make a resolution.

What Sakaki hasn’t said in the video, and hasn’t been widely discussed, is that a college for public viewing and educational purposes, among the items destroyed when a large wildfire burned her house to the ground. There was about $ 85,000 of artwork donated to.

The destruction of artwork and McCallum’s push to hang additional art from college collections into alternative homes have become important issues in reporting sexual harassment to the president’s husband, who recently caused a scandal that threatened the president’s leadership.

Allegations against Sakaki and her husband upset California’s Wine Country campus, with new criticisms of how the country’s largest four-year public university system investigates and resolves sexual harassment and worker retaliation complaints. Caused. And in February, he resigned as prime minister. Sonoma State University faculty members will begin voting this week for a motion that Sakaki is not confident in his leadership. Citing the Los Angeles Times investigation, 44 state legislators are seeking a system-wide audit of how employee-related sexual harassment allegations are investigated and paid to executives.

After the Tabus fire, Sonoma State University’s tensions surfaced about exhibiting more artwork at Sakaki and McCallum’s private residences, according to a legal settlement record reviewed by the Times. According to records, employees who visited the couple’s house many times to evaluate how and where to hang art reported that McCallum felt uncomfortable with her, calling him a “dirty old man”, a “pervert”, I described it as “eerie”.

According to the record of the settlement, McCallum was dissatisfied with the process not going fast enough and questioned whether Sakaki’s cabinet or leadership team needed to vote for the artwork. According to records, he heard a top university leader telling staff two women. He said, “I’m sleeping with the head of the cabinet, so I’m basically in the cabinet to vote and vote for art.”

The acrylic, mixed media, and watercolor images lost in the fire were some of the greatest artistic gifts in Sonoma State University’s history and were worth more than $ 2 million. The Sonoma Valley institution, Benjiger Family Winery, said about 450 in 2015, according to a donation document released by the university in response to California’s public records, that the images will remain together and appear in prominent public spaces on campus. Donated a collection A request for action by a Times reporter.

Joe Benjiger, who helped arrange the donation, told a friend of the faculty that some of the artwork was destroyed, but the family had never received official accounting from Sakakiya or other Sonoma State University admins. I told the Times that I heard it in person.

“It was going to stay in college,” he said of the artwork. “We didn’t keep it for the house.”

At Sakaki’s house, 18 works of art, including calligraphy by artist Wang Dongling, worth $ 15,900, were destroyed. The mixed media work by the late artist Nancy Graves is worth $ 12,900. According to records, the oil painting of the paintings on masonite by artist Joseph Marska was $ 5,400.

According to records, Sonoma State University officials filed an insurance claim shortly after the wildfire and tried to recover the loss. The flame from the flame did not reach the campus.

A university spokesman said in a written response that the art was rented out to Sakaki for display at her home because she frequently hosts events that are useful to the campus. Julia Gonzalez, a spokeswoman, said the university was insured for “the value of the artwork” and that Sonoma State University’s art wasn’t installed in the couple’s house after it burned.

An explanation of the allegations of sexual harassment and the tensions surrounding hanging artwork in Sakaki’s house was recorded in a record related to a legal claim filed by former Sonoma State University President Lisa Vollendorf.

Last month’s Times survey detailed how California State University paid $ 600,000 to resolve a claim.

Sakaki and McCallum say they haven’t done anything wrong, and Sakaki described the accusations of retaliation as “totally unfounded.” Sakaki later announced that she had left her husband after sending emails and scandals criticizing Volendorff and news coverage of what Sakaki called “inaccurate and unauthorized.”

The Benzigers purchased a ranch in Glen Ellen, an idyllic community in the heart of Sonoma Valley, in 1980. Multi-generational family businesses have become leaders in biomechanical and sustainable organic wine production.

In the early 1980s, Joe Benziger met Bob Newgent, a renowned local artist and professor of art at Sonoma State University, when he disbanded the battle at the Polo match. They became friends and came up with the idea of ​​asking Benziger’s wine bottles for contemporary art.

For over 30 years, hundreds of artists have created original works. The only requirement is that the work incorporates Parthenon. When the family bought it, there was a reproduction of the Greek temple on the premises.

“We found it really cool to connect all art and property,” Benziger told the Times.

The collection, featuring prominent artists such as Sol LeWitt, Robert Arneson and Squeak Carnwas, was too large for the family to exhibit.

Benjiger believes the family wants to put together a collection, and Sonoma State University, where the daughters attended, is an ideal place because of the ample public space and the development of a wine business management program. Was there. With the help of Newgent, who curated the collection, he donated art to the university in late 2015, about six months before Sakaki arrived.

“We wanted the public to enjoy it,” Benziger said. “I also wanted to use it as an educational tool for up-and-coming students.”

In an interview, Nugent said that benefiting students is “one of the main reasons” behind donations.

In a letter of appreciation, the former Vice-President of Sonoma State University, who directed the funding, said the university was “proud to showcase this talent and diversity art collection at the new Wine Spectator Learning Center, University Art. I am grateful, “I assured my family. Gallery and Schultz Information Center. “

The university acknowledged in the donation acceptance document that the important limitation of gifts is “collection should be kept together”.

In March 2016, Sonoma State University announced a gift in a news release. The university noted that the work would be exhibited in campus galleries and other spaces for the general public to enjoy.

“It’s great to have a large collection for students to study and use to hold exhibitions,” a university official said in a release.

Last week, when Sakaki fought in front of the Senate to regain confidence in leadership, he used the Tabus fire to remind him that Sonoma was her hometown.

“I had to give up everything I owned because I fled the house in a fierce fire, explosion, and smoke,” she said of the wildfire, killing 22 people and killing more than 5,000 homes. The house was destroyed.

According to the records of the settlement, after the devastation, McCallum pushed the couple to install artwork in their new home.

Volendorff claimed in the record that McCallum made sexual harassment comments during discussions about the college’s art collection, and that some staff were uncomfortable with putting art in the couple’s private home after the fire. ..

“This is not within the normal development of SSU’s art collections, and most of the donated personal collections were burned at home in 2017, so there is considerable debate about exhibiting art in private homes. I was nervous. ” record.

Bollendorf, who said he had heard McCallum’s comments about sleeping “with the head of the cabinet,” found the staff to be “aggressive and anxious about McCallum’s remarks that link gender, power and influence.” I reported.

The allegations were in a sexual harassment report stating that Bollendorf had handed it over to the Prime Minister’s Office. California State University officials admitted that they did not initiate a formal investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment, but instead spoke to Sakaki about her accusations against her husband.

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