After a Three-Year Hiatus, Colby’s Summer Luncheon Returns


The Museum of Art honors past director Sharon Corwin and former board chair William Tsiaras

A patron walks through Act of Sight: The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection during the Colby College Museum of Art Summer Luncheon. More than 450 people attended the luncheon, which had not been held since 2019 because of the pandemic.
By Bob KeyesPhotography by Gabe Souza
July 11, 2022

The Colby College Museum of Art celebrated the past, relished in the present, and previewed the future when it welcomed 450 artists, supporters, volunteers, and friends back to campus and back into the museum with the return of the Summer Luncheon on Saturday, July 9.

Because of the pandemic, it was the first Summer Luncheon the museum has hosted since 2019, and the first for Jacqueline Terrassa, the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art, who became director in fall 2020. She thanked people for “traveling from near and far to celebrate art, artists, and our community. … Place matters, and it’s important to be here in Waterville and see everything that happens in the community.”

A tradition that began as a thank-you picnic for artists and supporters soon after the museum’s founding in 1959, the luncheon has become one of the most anticipated art events of the summer in Maine. It includes an awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding arts leadership. As part of this year’s celebration, the museum recognized Sharon Corwin, the museum’s former director and chief curator, and Museum Board of Governors chair, emeritus, art collector, and philanthropist Dr. William G. Tsiaras ’68, P’03 by awarding each a Jetté Award for Leadership in the Arts.

Sharon Corwin, former chief curator and director of the Colby College Museum of Art, returned to campus to receive a Jetté Award for Leadership in the Arts.

Edith and Ellerton Jetté were early museum supporters, whose gift of art helped the museum become established and who remained committed to Colby for many years. Previous winners include many of the people who helped make the museum a world-class institution, including the late former museum director Hugh J. Gourley III; philanthropists Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98; artist and longtime museum supporter and collaborator Alex Katz; and the late Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, LL.D. ’06.

In receiving the award, Corwin, who spent 17 years at Colby and now serves as president and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art, thanked museum and College leaders past and present, her family, and the artists who have helped her see the world in a new and different light. “This space, this College, and this museum are in such good hands. Being here with all of you, my colleagues, friends, and family—just thank you. I couldn’t be happier,” she said.

Tsiaras, an ophthalmologist, has been instrumental in helping Colby establish its photography collection, forcefully advocating for the inclusion of photographs in the collection and donating more than 600. Many of those donations are on view at the museum in the exhibition Act of Sight: The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection.

“When I corresponded with Sharon several weeks ago, I said, ‘Sharon, I am thrilled and honored to get this award, but I can’t imagine how I can be getting this award along with you,’” he said. “It is such an honor to be here with you. It has been a tremendous ride, and I can only say that this has been the most wonderful time in my life to be associated with the College and with this museum. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Museum Board of Governors chair, emeritus, William G. Tsiaras departs the stage after receiving his Jetté Award for Leadership in the Arts, as Jacqueline Terrassa, the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art, applauds.

Held in a tent on the Colby Green, the gathering drew friends of the museum from across Maine and across the country back to Mayflower Hill, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills, an ardent arts advocate; artists whose work is part of the museum’s collection; donors whose generosity has allowed the museum to thrive; and leaders past and present whose vision has shaped and molded it.

Colby President David A. Greene thanked Corwin and Tsiaras for their service and generosity to the College and for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm.  

Greene praised Tsiaras for his discerning taste as a collector and for advocating for photography. “Colby’s museum is a great museum, and a great museum of American art has to have a great collection of photography. That would not have happened without Bill,” Greene said. “And it’s not just his collection, it is because of his persistence and his patience and his willingness to insist over time that photography has to be a significant part of the collection at the Colby College Museum of Art.”

Of Corwin, he said, “She gave me this incredible lesson in how to understand art, and made such a difference here. I am so glad that we finally get to celebrate everything that you’ve done. We will never be able to fully recognize it, but we feel it every single day on this campus.”

He described the museum as Colby’s “guiding light” that sets the tone for what’s possible on campus and across the community. The arts are “at the center of nearly everything we do,” Greene said, “and we will soon have a set of assets in the arts that will be unparalleled with any college of our kind in the country.”

The Paul J. Schupf Art Center will open later this year on Main Street in Waterville and will include a gallery of the Colby Museum, the Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art, named in honor of Joan Dignam Schmaltz ’63. In 2021 Colby opened the Greene Block + Studios in downtown Waterville, with public exhibition and performance space and the home of the Lunder Institute for American Art, made possible by donors Peter and Paula Lunder.

And in fall 2023, Colby will open the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, the largest academic building project in Colby’s history, which will serve as the home for Colby’s Departments of Music, of Cinema Studies, and of Performance, Theater, and Dance. Named after Trustee Michael Gordon ’66, it will be the most advanced and innovative arts facility in the region.

“If you start to tie these things together, they create something here at Colby and in central Maine that is unique and will be a place that will become a real destination for the arts overall. For that, we are incredibly excited,” Greene said.

Former Colby President William “Bill” Cotter hugs former museum director Sharon Corwin during the Summer Luncheon at the Colby College Museum of Art.

The College also recently acquired Allen and Benner islands off midcoast Maine, the former summer home of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, the famous painter and his visionary wife. Colby acquired the islands from the Up East Foundation and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art and is using them for research, learning, and inspiration across the curriculum.

New board chair Hilary Barnes Hoopes ’89, P’20, ’24 said she was inspired by the museum’s legacy of leadership and support. She called this year’s luncheon “a very special moment in the history-making of the museum” because it allowed for a proper introduction of Terrassa.

“Jackie brings such a deep commitment to advocating for artists past and present, to accessibility and inclusivity, to centering art and cultural understanding through learning experiences, and to asking poignant questions about whose stories are being told and why. For those of you who are meeting Jackie for the first time, you will be dazzled by her thinking, her awareness, her initiative, and her collaborative spirit. She exemplifies these practices and values in all that she does.”

The luncheon had the feeling of a reunion, with activities through the day. Prior to the luncheon, Terrassa hosted an interview with artist Thaddeus Mosley, a sculptor from Pittsburgh. His sculpture Directional, carved from wood, is on view in the museum. The sculpture was a recent gift of the Alex Katz Foundation.