Shared Inspiration: The Muriel K. and David R. Pokross Collection

March 2–July 29, 2012

Shared Inspiration: The Muriel K. and David R. Pokross Collection celebrates a generous gift from the family of Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934, and David R. Pokross. Muriel and David were tireless philanthropists, committed to social justice in Boston and beyond. David was a prominent attorney and community leader. After their children were grown, Muriel became the social worker for the Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing. Collecting brought together Muriel and David's shared enthusiasm for art and community: they visited galleries and artist studios everywhere they traveled, advised by an expanding circle of artists, collectors, curators and museum directors. “I buy works of art that I love,” David remarked in his memoir, “I have never approached a work of art in terms of whether it would be more valuable ten years from now.”

The Pokross Collection is comprised mainly of paintings, drawings, and prints by major artists of the post-World War II period. The collection displays a strong inclination towards figuration – even many of the abstract works subtly engage the figure – and emotional connection. But the unifying threads are primarily personal. Their family connection to Northern California is reflected in works by Bay Area artists Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, as well as by William T. Wiley, who became a friend the Pokrosses frequently visited. When they acquired Gregory Gillespie’s painting Trees and Figures, the purchase spurred a warm decade-and-a-half friendship that lasted until the artist’s death in 2000. These and other works in the Pokross Collection exemplify the interests Muriel and David shared in making meaningful connections with works of art and with people. “They were a great team,” recalled their daughter, Joan Pokross Curhan.

The works in the installation, on view in the Ketcham Gallery on the third floor of the Museum, are a gift of The Pokross Art Collection, donated in accordance with the wishes of Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934, by her children, Joan Pokross Curhan, class of 1959, William R. Pokross and David R. Pokross, Jr. in loving memory of their parents, Muriel Kohn Pokross and David R. Pokross.

This installation is supported by the Suzannah J. Fabing Programs Fund for the Smith College Museum of Art

Image Credit: Gregory Joseph Gillespie. American, 1936 – 2000. Greg and Peg. 1991. Oil on wood
Gift of The Pokross Art Collection, donated in accordance with the wishes of Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934 by her children, Joan Pokross Curhan, class of 1959, William R. Pokross and David R. Pokross Jr. in loving memory of their parents, Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934 and David R. Pokross. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe ©The Estate of Gregory Gillespie