Trust Gift Continues Improvements to Deming Fine Arts Center

December 18, 2019

The Rea Charitable Trust recently awarded Mary Baldwin University funding to enhance the school’s Deming Fine Arts Center, representing the fourth time it has provided such improvements.

According to Paul Menzer, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the most recent gift of $150,000 will go towards HVAC upgrades that will help address some ongoing climate-control problems in the building.

“This is particularly important since we house some extremely high-end Steinway pianos, a lot of sheet music, art supplies, and costumes,” he said. “This funding helps to protect and sustain vital materials while improving the working and learning conditions for staff, students, and faculty.”

Since 2016, Menzer has worked with music professor Lise Keiter to solicit funds from the trust. A $119,000 gift in 2016 allowed for the renovation of the main lobby of Deming Hall; replaced the floor, light fixtures, ceiling, window treatments, and desks in two classrooms; and installed a new floor in the theater lobby. In 2018, MBU used the funds to purchase two brand-new Steinway & Sons grand pianos and to pay for improvements to one of the music department’s existing pianos, a Steinway Model B.

Most recently, trust money went towards updating lighting in the art studio. Installation of the lights began in mid-December and will be completed when students return for the spring semester.

Left: before recent upgrades to Deming Fine Arts Center. Right: during upgrades, including fresh paint and new light fixtures.

On the second day of installation, art professor Jim Sconyers wandered into the Deming studio to survey the progress and found that a flood of even, daylight-temperature light illuminated a student’s work left on the wall.

“The same piece passed by my peripheral more than once under the old lighting,” Sconyers said. “But now I am stopped by a work revealed by three times the illuminance, and I see it for the first time. I am eager to see this same experience expressed, not so much in words, but rather in the glowing facial expressions of our returning students.”

The trust originates from the estate of an MBU alumna, which has been known for its support of the arts over the years. Isabel McClintic Rea ’39 was the daughter of a well-known Midland, Texas, ranching family and was known as one of the town’s most talented pianists. She majored in music at Mary Baldwin. Based in Midland, the trust was established in 2009 in honor of Rea and her husband, Bryce Rea Jr. All told, the trust has given a total of $500,000 for improvements to the Deming Fine Arts Center in three years.

“The Rea Charitable Trust has allowed the College of Visual and Performing Arts to significantly upgrade the working environment and equipment for MBU students passionate about the arts,” Menzer said. “Whether it be painting in the newly illuminated art studio, practicing on a newly acquired Steinway, or performing under technologically sophisticated lighting instruments in the theater, students are reaping the benefits of the Rea Charitable Trust’s commitment to the arts at MBU.”

“The Rea Charitable Trust has allowed the College of Visual and Performing Arts to significantly upgrade the working environment and equipment for MBU students passionate about the arts.”
Paul Menzer, dean of the College of Visual And Performing Arts