By Karen Klinger
The subtitle of Maud Morgan’s autobiography is “A Life from Art,” and it was in that spirit—the opportunity to celebrate life through artistic endeavors—that members of the Agassiz neighborhood and friends marked the groundbreaking September 29 of a visual arts center named in her honor.
During her long life, Morgan (who died in 1999) became not only a noted artist but a nurturer and inspiration for younger talents, including Frank Stella and Carl Andre. She was also an educator who lectured on art at Harvard and MIT and taught at Lesley College.
To Cantabrigians, she was a neighbor and effervescent presence for more than 40 years, living most of that time in Agassiz and exhibiting her work at a local gallery as well as mounting one-person shows at locales including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
To launch the long-planned Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center, the sponsoring Agassiz Baldwin Community held a ceremony (complete with a pile of dirt and toy shovels) that included a few speeches, some reminiscences and a barbecue for the scores of adults and children present.
In front of the 19th Century carriage house behind the Agassiz Baldwin’s stately Victorian headquarters at 20 Sacramento St. that will be transformed into the arts center, City Councilor Henrietta Davis read a proclamation highlighting its importance to the community.
Standing next to her was Terry Delancey, Agassiz Baldwin’s executive director, who has shepherded the project through years of ups and downs, including fund-raising efforts and a protracted lawsuit.
In the end, the work paid off, with sponsors noting they are close to reaching their goal of raising the estimated cost of $1.4 million for the center, which will encompass about 3,000 square feet of classroom, studio and exhibition space.
The money in hand includes a $400,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, which enabled the construction to begin, with the new center scheduled to open next summer.
But sponsors still need to raise about a quarter-million dollars, which they hope to do in part with a program called “Buy a Brick,” through which donors are able to buy engraved bricks for $250 apiece that can remember someone, quote a poem or saying, or anything else that can fit a maximum of 16 characters. The bricks will be placed in walkways around the center. (For information, contract email@example.com or call 617-349-6287 ext. 17).
Agassiz Baldwin is also raising support for the center with a show of works by Cambridge artists called “Small Works” at its Sacamento Street Gallery, which will open October 23 with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and run until December 4. (For more information about the show or the Maud Morgan center, go to www.agassiz.org).
To mark the start of construction of the new facility, the Cambridge Arts Council (CAC) Gallery just opened an exhibition called “Breaking Ground,” that it says “showcases the past, present and future” of the project. It includes architectural plans and illustrations of the new building by eight Cambridge artists, as well as some of Maud Morgan’s art.
Jason Weeks, executive director of the CAC, who was at the groundbreaking, said that not only will families throughout the city benefit from year-round programs at the new center, but he also expected it to play a “vital role in the development of an arts district in Porter Square that includes Lesley University and the Art Institute of Boston.”
Over the next three months, the CAC will hold three events linked to “Breaking Ground” as part of its “First Mondays” series at the gallery, which is located on the second floor of the city hall annex.
On October 5, there will be an opening reception, followed by a “Meet the Artists” event on November 2 and a “Community Arts: Making Art with Children and Families” program on December 7. All of the events will happen between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
To learn more about CAC programs, go to www.cambridgeartscouncil.org or call 617-349-4380.
In November and December, art classes for middle school students and adults also are scheduled to take place at the CAC gallery to benefit the building fund for the Maud Morgan center. For more information, contact Micah Woods at 617-349-6287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Copies of Maud Morgan’s autobiography, “Maud’s Journey: A Life from Art,” can be purchased for $20 by calling 617-349-6287).