There was no singing the blues at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum on October 22 when MikeHenderson, a pioneering African American artist, was heralded at the museum’s gala with its highest honor: the Margrit Mondavi Arts Medallion.
Henderson, also a talented blues guitarist, filmmaker and UC Davis professor emeritus who taught for 43 years in Davis’ vaunted Department of Art and Art History, even entertained the crowd with a few licks in a band organized by Wayne Thiebaud Foundation president MattBult, a stepson of the late painter, who, for decades, taught alongside Henderson at Davis.
At the gala, led by chairs Maria Manetti Shrem, PamKramlich and LeShelleMay, with board cochairs CarolParker and LornaMeyerCalas, more than $300K was raised by 140 supporters from the worlds of art, philanthropy and academia for the museum’s educational outreach and free exhibitions. Guests also delighted amid gallery tours and a masterful McCalls wine-paired dinner while toasting the transformational power of art.
Also lauded: architect FlorianIdenburg, whose Manetti Shrem design was declared this year by ARTnews as one of the “25 Best Museum Buildings of the Past 100 Years.” And cheers erupted when founding museum donor Manetti Shrem re-upped her devotion, surprising the museum she established with her husband, JanShrem, with a new $3 million challenge gift for its endowment fund.
Joined by founding museum director RachelTeagle, UC Davis Provost MaryCroughan sang Henderson’s praises: “We honor Mike Henderson — musician, filmmaker, painter — a true polymath and a dedicated teacher. Among his most notable achievements is his extended family of students, who he continues to nurture through a lifetime of mentoring. At a time when students of color on this campus did not have ready mentors, he fostered the arts here as a shelter, a place of freedom and expression.”
Henderson, who turns 80 in June, is enjoying a sweet renaissance: His works reside in permanent collections at such museums as SFMOMA and the de Young. Next month, his gallerist CherylHaines also mounts a solo exhibition at Fort Mason Center, while the Manetti Shrem opens a major exhibition of his paintings and films: Mike Henderson: Before the Fire, 1965–1985. ￼