Name: Michael Klein
Epsten Gallery Title: Board Member
Years on The Epsten Gallery Board: 20
Other Epsten Gallery Activities: Past Epsten Gallery President; Chair of the Exhibition Committee
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School, I returned home to join my family’s business, U.S. Toy Co. While not having any formal art courses, I always had an interest in art and going to a school in Philadelphia gave me wonderful exposure to not only galleries there but up and down the East coast. Some of the shows I attended were very cutting edge including Andy Warhol’s first gallery show on Penn’s campus where I remember asking: “Who would buy a big box of “Tide”?
In addition to being on the board of The Epsten Gallery, I have been active at The Temple both as a board member and the head of its art committee; The boards of the Jewish community Foundation and the Flo Harris Foundation. I am on the aqusition committee of the Jewish Museum in New York City.
How long have you been on the board at The Epsten Gallery?
I have been on the board of The Epsten Gallery from the very beginning 20 years ago. I was impressed with Sybil Kahn’s idea of matching exhibits with venues and not being burdened with a building. The Museum Without Walls part of The Epsten Gallery still reflects that original vision.
Why are you involved with The Epsten Gallery?
I am involved with The Epsten Gallery for several reasons. First is my interest in art and the first class exhibits it sponsors. The shows are often on a level that any local museum or gallery would be proud to have done such as the Jason Pollon show this summer or the Victor Babu show last year.
Second, The Epsten Gallery does great things for the residents at Village Shalom. Some shows involve the residents directly such as the Adriane Herman show of lists or the Jessica Wohl show of portraits. Some activities are directly resident focused such as the “high tea” event or the 1940’s “Sock Hop” or the artist lectures. The gallery stimulates the residents both intellectually and socially, and it adds to a changing, exciting environment, which is important when you consider that some residents rarely get outside the facility.
Third, The Epsten Gallery does exciting shows that are beyond the scope of projects being done elsewhere such as The Dining Room Project, which was one of the many collaborations done with other venues. The Epsten Gallery adds to the mix of art venues in the city in general and in Johnson county in specific where there is only one other great art venue: The Nerman.
This is a “Sophie’s Choice” type of question, as I enjoy the variety of events: from the “Trolly Tours” to the exhibits to the resident programs. I like that the exhibits are so different from each other: from historical retrospectives like the Victor Babu show to exhibitions that show an artist’s newest work like the Jason Pollen exhibit. The most fun have been the resident programs like the “Sock Hop”.
For the coming year, it would be great to do more Museum Without Walls exhibits, where we honor Sibyl Kahn’s original vision of matching venues with art exhibits; this extends our “gallery space” through out the entire area. So many people do not travel outside a limited geographic area that this gives us a chance to bring programs to a much wider audience.