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News . Feature Stories . Cleveland Institute of Art Presents Motto Chair to Painting Department Head Julie Langsam


September 10, 2007

Cleveland Institute of Art Presents Motto Chair to Painting Department Head Julie Langsam

The Cleveland Institute of Art has awarded its inaugural Joseph Motto Chair to Julie Langsam, associate professor and head of the painting department.

Cleveland - The Cleveland Institute of Art has awarded its inaugural Joseph Motto Chair to Julie Langsam, associate professor and head of the painting department.

The Motto Chair was established in late 2006 when former Clevelanders Rocco Motto, and his wife, Verna (Houck) Motto, made a $1 million endowment gift. The chair memorializes Rocco Motto's uncle, the late sculptor Joseph C. Motto, alumnus of the Institute's class of 1912.

"Julie is a highly regarded artist and dedicated teacher. Her devotion to her students and her media reflect Joseph Motto's values. She is certainly deserving of this honor," said Institute President and CEO David L. Deming.

Langsam joined the Institute's faculty in 1996 after teaching at Parsons School of Design and Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). She earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from Purchase College, State University of New York in 1983 and her master of fine arts degree from Queens College, CUNY in 1985.

The Motto endowment will provide salary support as well as funds for professional development of faculty members in the chairholder's department, education-related travel, and materials and equipment. Langsam's ideas for providing enriching field experiences for her students - including her proposal to bring fine arts students to New Orleans for the American Biennial of contemporary art - favorably impressed the committee charged with choosing the Motto chair recipient.

Langsam is curator of "The Big Bang" half of the two-part alumni exhibition "From Here to Infinity & The Big Bang," celebrating the Institute's 125th anniversary. "The Big Bang" features the work of recent alumni artists and is on view at SPACES gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct. The "From Here to Infinity" portion of the show, featuring work of some of the Institute's more established alumni artists, is on view in the Reinberger Galleries of the Institute's Gund building, 11141 East Boulevard. Both opened Friday, Sept. 7; the SPACES show closes on Oct. 19 while the Institute show closes Oct. 27.

Langsam is director of the Institute's Kacalieff Visiting Artists & Scholars Program. She was an Artist Portfolio Mentor at this year's College Art Association conference in New York City. A painter, Langsam has had numerous exhibitions in Ohio and New York and, this past summer, her work was included in the show "A House Is Not A Home" at the prestigious Caren Golden Fine Art in New York City. In 2003, she participated in the group exhibition at the Institut Franco-Americain in Rennes, France. In 2002, her work was featured in a solo museum show at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland. Represented by Michael Steinberg Fine Art in New York City, Langsam is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and is included in many private and public collections throughout the US.

Motto's work seen in region
Joseph Motto was foremost a highly acclaimed sculptor, but also a ceramicist, watercolorist and general fine artist. He assisted Cleveland School of Art faculty member Herman N. Matzen with the sculpture of Cleveland's reform mayor Tom L. Johnson that was unveiled on Public Square in 1915. Joseph Motto taught at Hawken School, where several of his works can still be seen on campus, maintained a local studio and one in Florence. In July 2005, his work was the subject of a major retrospective exhibited by the Cleveland Artists Foundation at The Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. Joseph Motto's lasting legacies include a bust of William Shakespeare in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, a large crucifix at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland, a cast of the pitching arm of former Cleveland Indians' star pitcher Bob Feller and numerous other works.

"We are grateful that Rocco and Verna Motto decided to honor Joseph Motto's contributions to the arts with this very generous donation," said Deming, a 1967 graduate of the college. "The prestige of the Motto chair, and the resources it provides for professional growth, will strengthen the Institute's capacity to recruit and retain the finest artist-educators."

Langsam said she is honored to be the first recipient of the Motto Chair. "It has been very fulfilling teaching at The Cleveland Institute of Art and this endowment is going to allow me to further enhance my program," she added.

Rocco and Verna Motto previously created an endowed scholarship and funded a charitable gift annuity at the Institute. The family's ties to the Institute are strong. Rocco Motto's brother, the late Louis J. Motto, and Louis' wife, the late Marilyn L. (Carpenter) Motto, were both graduates of the class of 1942 and enjoyed successful careers in interior design.

The Motto Chair is the second endowed chair established at the school, the first being the Anne Fluckey Lindseth Chair in industrial design established in 1995 by a gift from her husband, the late Elmer Lindseth, and their son, Jon Lindseth. The chair was created to honor Anne Lindseth, a 1926 graduate of the Institute, a Trustee from 1963 until 1983 and a member of its Advisory Board and Honorary Board. Dan Cuffaro, professor and chair of the Institute's design environment, holds the Lindseth Chair.

The Cleveland Institute of Art is located at 11141 East Boulevard. For directions or other information, please visit or call 216-421-7407.

The Cleveland Institute of Art is an independent college of art and design committed to leadership and vision in all forms of visual arts education. The Institute makes enduring contributions to education and extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibits, lectures, a continuing education program and The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, an art and independent film program.

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