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Art

College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center to display rare work of Frida Kahlo

The College of DuPage will exhibit 26 pieces of rare Frida Kahlo artwork during summer 2020 at the McAninch Arts Center.
The College of DuPage will exhibit 26 pieces of rare Frida Kahlo artwork during summer 2020 at the McAninch Arts Center.

College of DuPage officials are moving ahead with plans to exhibit 26 pieces of rare art from the acclaimed late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

At its Feb. 15 meeting, the College of DuPage Board of Trustees voted to approve a $450,000 contract with Delores Olmedo Museum in Mexico to exhibit pieces of original Kahlo artwork at the college for three months during summer 2020. Voting "no" was board Vice Chairman Frank Napolitano.

In voting against the project, Napolitano said he was concerned COD would have a long list of capital expenses to accommodate the artwork. The total surrounding expenses to insure, display, secure, staff and operate the exhibit are estimated at about $2 million.

"Places like the Art Institute are already built for it," he said. "It is a lot of capital investment and a lot of risk. I don't think we are built for it."

The artwork, valued at $113 million, will consist of 19 original oil paintings and seven works on paper. The work will be exhibited from June 1 through Aug. 31, 2020, at the Cleve Carney Art Gallery in the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage's Glen Ellyn campus.

COD officials estimate at least 1,400 people per day will view the exhibit and it will bring in $2 million in total revenues. Officials also believe the college can raise an additional $250,000 through grants, sponsorships, fundraising events and donations to cover its costs and any unexpected expenses.

"When you have an international artist of this caliber, it opens the door to a lot of high donors and brands who gravitate to fine art that wouldn't normally donate to College of DuPage or to the MAC or to the gallery," McAninch Arts Center Director Diana Martinez told trustees. "But they know that fine art deals with a special caliber of buyer and consumer. I feel confident that the donors will be there."

A concert in January at the McAninch Arts Center featuring noted trumpeter Chris Botti attracted patrons from as far away as Texas, Washington D.C., Ohio and Michigan, Martinez noted.

"I think our numbers are strong," she said. "I'm looking at 1,400 people a day. I'd rather be conservative in my numbers and underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around."

Chuck Boone, dean of arts, communication and hospitality at COD, said he thought the artwork would create a great opportunity for the college.

"I think this is a good idea," he said. "I think it is indeed an artist that is very impactful in the world of art and at the same time, horribly under exhibited, especially in this country for a variety of reasons. I think it will be a really awesome opportunity for our students and our community because it is going to generate a lot of economic opportunity in our community as a whole."

An academic curriculum tying in with the exhibit will be developed.

Board Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said she thought the exhibit would be a "unique opportunity for our students and the community at large."

If the exhibit turns out to be successful, she said it could be used as a model for generating additional revenues and bringing more people to the college.

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