Monday, April 18, 2011

In Memory: Dr. Donald L. Jacobs 1919-2011

It is with sadness that we learned on Thursday of the passing of Dr. Donald L. Jacobs, generous donor and friend of the Art Department and Art Galleries. As readers of this blog well know, Dr. Jacobs and his wife, Dottie, have shared their collection of fine art and artifacts with students of the college for more than a decade through site visits to their home and the installation of nearly 200 works in the newest building on campus, the Ensor Learning Resource Center.

The article above is excerpted from the Herald-Leader celebrates the opening of the collection in 2002. For the full article, see David Minton, “Georgetown Students Owe Much to Doctor.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 6 Oct. 2002-H1.

The Jacobs Gallery has enabled students to view works of fine art and objects first-hand, a key learning objective of the art department. Numerous class visits to the gallery have enabled students to directly observe modern and contemporary works of art in addition to 32 artifacts from world cultures, including ancient Greek vessels, two African masks and wood and figurines, Chinese porcelain bowls, Asian equestrian figures, ceramic pieces from Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Palestine, as well as transitional figures such as the Ushabti from the Ptolemaic period. In addition to art classes, many sections of this year's Foundations 111 course -- a required Freshman general education course -- utilized the Greek vessels in their study of the literature and culture of the ancients. This spring, Honors students sat beside the Kantheros, Lekythos, and miniature Skyphos while musing Homeric hymns to Dionysos and the wonders of Anacreontic verse. Students enrolled in the "Artistic Traditions of Asia" seminar, a Foundations 112 course, researched and presented material about the Asian artifacts and prints in our collection.

Over the past decade, students have come into direct contact with prize works of which no museum in the area can boast. But, equally important, students, faculty, and staff of the college have come to know Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs, generous benefactors but, also, caring, dear friends of the department who have opened our eyes to the wonders of collecting, to developing a passionate pursuit for art, and what it means to share one's passion with a broader community.

Prior to the establishment of the Gallery on campus, and, even, since, the Art Department has been fortunate to have an open invitation to bring students to the Jacobs' home to view art "in its natural state." Below, three photos from student visits to the Jacobs' home over the past few years.

Above: Summer 2008 field trip. Course: Old Masters, Young Geniuses.

Above: Fall 2006 "Modern Art" class visit.
Below: Fall 2005 Curatorial Studies class visit.

Friends of the gallery and department, please feel free to write a comment below as a testament to the ways in which you have been touched by the collection and the generosity of Dr. Donald L. and Dorothy Jacobs. All comments received by Thursday, April 21 will be printed and forwarded to the Jacobs family.

For more information on Dr. Jacobs (whom the students have affectionately called "Dr. J"), see the online obituary. In closing, I would like to suggest that David Minton had it all wrong, in the article above: it's not just the "Georgetown students" who "owe much to doctor" -- it's all of us. Thank you, Dr. Donald L. and Dorothy Jacobs!


Klev said...

With support for the Arts (of all kinds) quickly slipping away the loss of Dr. Jacobs is an especially big hit to all of us. He was such a wonderful patron to Georgetown College and that's what we should remember. He (and Dottie too!) Opened the doors of their home to allow art students to see art we might never have the oppotunity to otherwise (in addition to all the works they loaned to the Jacobs Gallery for the public to enjoy). The cookies and lemonade were also a great memory and I know I'll miss the colorful banter and exchange between Dr. Jacobs and Dottie too. Mostly I'll miss hearing him talk with such love about art.
Karyn Leverenz GC Alum '08

art gal said...

Although I had only one opportunity to meet Dr. Jacobs, I am reminded of his legacy every day. Last fall, he and Dottie visited the gallery that bears their name. They were delightful; he almost giddy with being able to see the works of art he loved and cherished, but perhaps more excited to meet students who were actively taking part in making the collection more accessible. Dr. Jacobs, a rare individual who cared about art, the community, and enriching others' lives, will be missed. However, his kind and generous spirit will continue to be cherished.

Russ said...

Dr. Jacobs certainly had a huge roll in encouraging me to continue in my path as an artist. He was one of the first patrons to purchase my work and hired me to assist with the first installation of the Jacobs Collection at GC. I have thought of both him and Mrs Jacobs a lot over the years and the news of his passing is hard. I wish everyone the best. Future students at Georgetown certainly do not know what they will be missing. He was a great man.

Russ Bellamy GC Alum '02

Ellen said...

Many of my history students have never been in a gallery where they can experience art personally. I am always struck by their visceral reaction to seeing a statue or bowl three-dimensionally rather than images in a text or video. Here before them sits an object that was conceived by minds like theirs and then made by hands like theirs. A human is speaking to them across time. Dr. Jacobs has left a legacy that will go on giving my students this experience as long as Georgetown is here and for that I thank him and his lovely wife.

Jacob Pankey said...

Enough though I only met Dr. Jacobs once, he left a lasting impression. Last fall, after having the opening reception for the Homecoming Exhibit in Curatorial Studies, I had the unique opportunity to meet the Jacobs. I recall his warm and open nature to both faculty and students alike. His presence will be greatly missed in the Georgetown College community and beyond.

Angelina said...

My favorite memory of Dr. Jacobs was meeting him for the first time in the gallery while I was working. He walked in, said hello, and put his hat on the bronze sculpture of his own head. Apparently this may have been his ritual each time he came in the gallery to check on things. I can't explain how important his collection of art aided me in learning and growing while at Georgetown. He will truly be missed but his legacy will continue to live on through the gallery and all the students it has affected.
Angelina McCoy GC Alum '10

cgfreid said...

He was a wonderful raconteur and enthusiastic lover of art. He sparkled when he spoke of those he loved and the wonderful gift he gave to Georgetown College and the community at large. He will be missed by many. Our lives are richer for having known him, our community is richer for having been graced with his presence. He will be remembered for his generosity and spirit and sense of humor and for being a good friend of all the arts. He leaves a wonderful legacy, a treasure that will bring I hope, continual enrichment.
Dr. C. Freid

Peta said...

I only had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jacobs once, but I was charmed immediately. Like most, I have thought of him often and fondly since. Thank you for all you did, Dr. Jacobs. You'll be greatly missed and long remembered for your work and passion for the arts.

-Peta Niehaus, GC Alum '08

Cortney Ragene said...

When looking for a topic to write my art history senior thesis I was drawn to the Jacobs collection where I had visited with numerous classes, and worked with during a re-install of the collection in 2008. Although there is a lot of information about the modern and contemporary works on the wall, I was interested in the artifacts and antiquities located in the vitrines in the middle. When I met Dr. Jacobs during my last semester working on the project, I was excited to talk to him, and have him share some of his knowledge with me. I was truly thankful for someone who appreciated all forms of art, as displayed by the diversity of the collection. It is with great sadness that the art department mourns his death. He has benefitted far more people than many may ever realize. His support of the arts has certainly helped me to appreciate the field more, and has helped me in my decision to become an art historian.

Cortney Thorn -GC Alum '10

Raine said...

I sadly never got to meet Dr. Jacobs. However, without him, I would never have been able to appreciate directly such a large body of works that was donated to our institution. I appreciate what has been given and wish that I could have directly thanked him in person.

Georgetown Class of 2012

Earl Grey said...

Dr. Holly Barbaccia, assistant professor of English, sent this comment:

I never had an opportunity to meet Dr. Jacobs, but like everyone in the Georgetown College community, I have benefited from his and his family's generosity. When Dr. Decker's Honors reading group met in the Jacobs Gallery for a discussion of ancient and Renaissance literature, we congregated around the Greek artifacts. Having those objects in sight lent both tangibility and mystery to the poetry. Students and faculty alike are fortunate to have such a developed and varied collection to turn to for information and inspiration. I know Dr. Jacobs will be missed and he will continue to be appreciated by those of us at GC.

--Dr. Barbarccia, April 21, 2011

GC::VA said...

We lost a great story teller, but gained innumerable stories by an amazing individual. The loss of Dr Jacobs is an enormous one to our community. I will treasure the memories of listing to Dr Jacobs and it is reassuring that I can walk over to the Jacobs Gallery and hear them be told again in the spaces between the works.
I remember so vividly Dr Jacobs coming to my first exhibition at Georgetown, sitting in a chair next to him and sharing stories of art and military life. There was no to many things more exciting to see him and Dottie making their way down the hallway coming to shows. He shared his life with us and we are blessed to be have been allowed to be apart of it.

Ashley Darland said...

Dr. Jacobs left a wonderful legacy to the College that can never be replaced. His art collection had an immense influence on me as a student of art history. He was passionate about his collection of art, and you can see his interests by looking at the he gave horses, vibrant colors, Latin American art, and abstract art.

When I was a student at Georgetown College, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Jacobs multiple times while working on my senior thesis, both in the gallery and his home. I was nervous at first to interview someone who was so well known and established in the art community. He and Dottie both were so kind-hearted that I felt instantly comfortable talking with them about their collection. I remember Dr. Jacobs leading me around his "cabin" and showing me all their wonderful pieces of art. It was fascinating to hear them speak about their lifelong passion of collecting art, and how some pieces were like their children. I remember that Dr. Jacobs could never choose a favorite painting of his because he loved them all.

What's interesting about Dr. Jacobs' collection of art is that every piece is an anecdote to his life. He bought pieces at different times of his life, some of the artists he knew personally, some were investment pieces, others he chose while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. The art collection is personal and intimate to the Jacobs, and I know that we will all continue to enjoy his significant legacy as an art collector with the Jacobs Gallery at Georgetown College.

Daniel Ware said...

I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Jacobs and to talk with him two or three times. He was a very positive, exciting and kind man. I can still remember when I was working in the Jacobs Gallery and he would visit along with his wife Dottie, and he brightened up anytime he came to see how the Gallery was and to see students looking at the beautiful art he had so graciously donated to the school. I can also remember how he would tell me that he had to get home and get on the tractor. He was a funny and great man who will be greatly missed.

Prof. Darrell Kincer said...

I had a few opportunities to meet and talk with Dr. Jacobs. He was such a charismatic gentleman, full of character and enthusiasm. I will certainly miss him.

What I treasure is that his spirit will live on within the Georgetown College community and especially within the art department. He has bestowed a lasting and treasured legacy on us that will endure for generations to come.

Iaskwhynot said...

Dr. Jacobs was passionate about all the most important things in life: his family, sharing his stories with others, education, and of course, art! It was an honor to work for the Jacobs Gallery and loved when Dr. J and Dottie would stop by to visit their "friends" in the gallery. Dr. Jacobs never grew tired of telling stories about his art collection, and no one I knew every grew tired of hearing them. His generosity was but one of the great qualities I will always remember him for.