Foothill Club aims to raise money for damaged garden with art lecture

By Khalida Sarwari

A local art historian is preparing to wrap up a month-long exploration of 20th-Century American art and artists as part of the Saratoga Foothill Club’s art lecture series with one final presentation about modern art. The event doubles as a fundraiser for the club, which needs money to repair a portion of the garden that was damaged after a windstorm knocked over a neighboring tree.

Fran Rushing, a retired professor from San Jose, will cover abstract expressionism to pop art in her last talk of the series March 30. She concentrates on the works of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn and Archile Gorky, as well as artists involved in the Bay Area Figurative Art movement.

Rushing has taught art history and humanities at De Anza College, San Jose State University, the San Jose Museum of Art and Evergreen Valley College, but nowadays prefers to stick to the lecture circuit. She accepts the Foothill Club’s invitation to return whenever she gets the chance. Last year, she gave a series of talks on the influence of royalty on the development of art.

“I find giving these lectures very stimulating,” she said.

Presented by the club’s art lectures committee, the annual art lecture series was launched as a benefit for the Saratoga Foothill Club Historic Landmark Foundation, which is charged with preserving and maintaining the Julia Morgan-designed building. The series is now in its eighth year.

On average, the lectures tend to draw about 50 people per event, club president Cathy Schroeder said.

The foundation will bring in an estimated $1,500 from this year’s series, a figure that is lower compared to previous years because the club had to rent space from the Saratoga Federated Church due to the construction project that’s in progress at the Foothill Club.

“We had critical foundation repairs to take care of, plus made improvements to our properties frontage area, creating a more welcoming and expansive front entrance, safer and wider walkways, better lighting and larger gardens,” Schroeder said.

In the past, funds have gone toward renovation projects, such as making restrooms and entryways accessible to disabled guests. Since January, the club has been undergoing repairs to its foundation and exterior, according to event co-chair Ginny Sampson. She said the work should be completed by April.

“The purpose of these (lectures) is not only are they a stimulation and education, but it’s also a fundraiser so we can repair the 101-year-old building,” she said.

A portion of the funds from this year’s series will be used to pay for a number of repairs necessitated by a large heritage oak tree that fell over onto the garden from a neighbor’s yard during a recent heavy storm, said Sampson. The tree apparently cracked a concrete bench and caused damage to the gazebo and a nearby tree. The damage to the garden was estimated at a little under $5,000.

“Fortunately it didn’t hurt anybody,” she said.

The series kicked off March 9 with a discussion about the origins of American art created during the colonial era and covered a different topic every week thereafter, including the Ashcan School and the 1913 Armory Show, the art of the Depression era and the WPA Federal Art Project and art deco and architecture.

The final lecture takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Saratoga Federated Church’s Richard’s Hall, 20390 Park Place. The fee to attend is $25.

For more information, contact Judy Vance at or 408.867.9753.

Link: Foothill Club aims to raise money for damaged garden with art lecture


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