Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art

The Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art was founded in 1991 to help support the Museum’s contemporary art collection and related exhibitions, as well as to educate its members and the community at large about contemporary art through programs, events, and art-related travel. Throughout the year, the Collectors Circle organizes a variety of events and activities for its members, including tours of contemporary art exhibitions and private collections, as well as gallery talks and lectures by experts in the field. The group maintains a busy travel schedule with frequent trips to regional, national, and international art destinations. At the Collectors Circle’s annual dinner, members vote to acquire a new contemporary work for the Museum, the cost of which is covered by annual membership dues.

$500 per member
$250 per junior member (under 40)

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Upcoming Events & Travel

Collector’s Circle Salon
March 10, 2016
Home of Gail Andrews

Salon presentation by Director Gail Andrews about her recent trip to Naoshima, the ‘art island of Japan’.

RSVP to Bethany McClellan at or 205-254-2567

Evening trip to Montgomery
March 30, 2016

Travel to Montgomery to attend the opening of Scout at Triumph and Disaster gallery. The exhibition, curated by Grear Patterson and inspired by Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, features the following artists: Sebastian Lloyd Rees, Yves Scherer, Jeremy Anderegg, Ophelia Finke, Jack Irv, and Grear Patterson.

4pm: Depart the BMA via charter bus

6pm: Scout opening at Triumph and Disaster

7:30: Dinner at The A & P Social

We will return to Birmingham following dinner.

RSVP to Bethany McClellan at or
205-254-2567 no later than Monday, March 14 with a $40 deposit
(check or credit card). Space is limited and participation is on a first-come,
first-served basis. Cost will be determined by number of participants.


Join the Collectors Circle on a trip to Marfa, Texas, where Minimalist Art meets the Old West. The trip will take place from April 4-8, 2016, and will include private visits to the Judd and Chianti Foundations and the Marfa Ballroom, among many other exciting sites. We will also be able to explore the picturesque landscape and experience the fusion of cuisines, inspired by Southwest, European, and Asian influences.

The registration and payment deadline is January 6, 2016. For questions or to register, please contact Laurence Bezy at 202.244.1448 or

April 16, 2016 // BMA 8th Ave Lobby

lobby projects opening and artist talk with Bethany Collins

Day trip to Atlanta
May 13, 2016

Stops include a private collection visit, Atlanta Contemporary, and the High Museum of Art to see the major retrospective exhibition of the work of Vik Muniz

We will depart the BMA by charter at 8am and return to Birmingham ca. 7pm
RSVP to Bethany McClellan at or 205-254-2567 no later than Monday, April 25 with a $40 deposit (check or credit card).

Space is limited and participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost will be determined by number of participants.

Save the Date for a joint trip with the European Art Society to Minneapolis!

The program will focus on contemporary and European art and will include visits to The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Walker Art Center, and the Midwest Art Conservation Center, where BMA paintings are currently being treated.
More details with sign-up information coming soon.

Joint Voting Event with the Friends of American Art
June 23, 2016
Birmingham Museum of Art Cafe

Together the Friends and Collectors Circle will vote on a new acquisition for the permanent collection of photography.

Collectors Circle Annual Dinner will take place October 20, 2016

 Recent Travel

Venice pic (2)Collectors Circle Trip to Venice, Italy for the 56th Venice Biennale
November 2-8, 2015

By CC member Robin Morgan

The Collectors Circle had a blast in Venice at the 56th Venice Biennale! Founded in 1895, it is one of the most famous and prestigious cultural organizations in the world today. The Venice Biennale stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends.  The Biennale is comprised of three efforts; the exhibitions of the National Pavilions, the International Exhibition, and Collateral Events. The exhibition of each National Pavilion has its own curator and project, while the International Exhibition and Collateral Events are orchestrated and approved by the Biennale curator.

Most of the National Pavilions are located at the Giardini, a large area of parkland. Most countries have their own Pavilions, however some countries have their exhibitions in unique locations, such as palaces in Venice and on nearby islands. Some favorites among the trip included Japan’s exhibit with artist Chiharu Shiota’s “Key in the Hand”, Camille Norment’s “Rapture” for Norway, and Céleste Boursier-Mougenot ‘s “Revolutions” for France with its living trees that moved above ground, supposedly propelled by the trees own sap flow generating electricity.

The Arsenale (a complex of former shipyards and armories) area of Venice was the site for many, many more exhibitions. Some of the artists represented included Sarah Sze, Adrian Piper, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, and Terry Adkins among others.
We enjoyed numerous separate exhibitions throughout Venice. They included “Frontiers Reimagined” at the Museo Palazzo Grimani. “Frontiers Reimagined” featured the work of major Asian artists such as Chun Kwang Young who produces sculptural work with mulberry paper and Styrofoam that are incredible and Hiroshi Senju’s breathtaking abstract waterfall paintings.

Another exhibition was Proportio at the Palazzo Fortuny. This showing featured contemporary art, architectural drawings, music, and sculpture from various periods that assemble into a universal representation of proportion. Among the artists represented were Ellsworth Kelly, Sando Botticelli, Andrea Palladio, Sebastiano Serlio, Anish Kapoor, AnseVenice piclm Keifer, Fred Sandback, and Gerrit Rietveld.

At Punta Della Dogagna we enjoyed the conceptual exhibition “Slip of the Tongue”. Curator Danh Vo explores the historical role of the curator through contemporary relationships between artists.

We delighted in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal. Among the artists represented are Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Léger, Brancusi, Severini, Balla, Delaunay, Kupka, Picabia, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Arp, Miró, Giacometti, Klee, Ernst, Magritte, Dalí, Pollock, Rothko, Calder, Moore, and Marini. We visited the nearby island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the beautiful Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by Palladio and begun in 1566. The Church housed the exhibition “Together” by Jaume Piensa.

We were fortunate to view the work of the late Emilio Vedova (1919-2006) at Dorsodua, a pivotal artist in the Italian contemporary art scene. Almost next door we stumbled onto an exhibition titled “We Must Risk Delight”, which featured 20 artists from Los Angeles.

We also visited the island of Murano, famous for its glass and artisan glass pieces. We had a private visit to the home and studio of Lino Tagliapietra. Although he was consulting in the US, his son, Silvano, graciously showed us a short film of his father producing unbelievable works of glass art and pieces that were for sale.
One evening we were surprised with an “after hours” (which really meant after the crowds) tour of St. Mark’s Basilica. The mosaics are magnificent and the intrigue involving the body of St. Mark was fascinating.
Our trip was fantastic! We lucked into great weather, our accommodations at the Hotel Londra Palace were fine, right on the water, within minutes of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), and our guides were great! Many thanks to Elizabeth Dean and our specialty guides Kristina and Susan.

Collectors Circle Trip to Chicago
International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art
September 17-20, 2015

By CC member Shirley Osband

To start at the Mies van der Rohe designed Arts Club of Chicago and end with a visit
to museums within the mix of “Modern Gothic-to- Contemporary” architecture of
the University of Chicago speaks to the surround of Chicago’s beautiful buildings as
a backdrop for an art-filled weekend.

After breakfast at The Arts Club and Kirstin Brätsh’s “Pele’s Curse” addressing
painting and its possibilities with paper marbling, baked antique glass, and stained
glass brushstrokes, we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and “Music
You Can See, Art You Can Hear,” describing the exhibition of the 1960’s African
American avant-garde of Chicago jazz musicians and its engagement with the civic
rights era. Then to a gallery visit to view the words and definitions, erasures and
contradictions that comprise the work of Bethany Collins, commissioned to create
an installation within the BMA main lobby. The day ended at the Navy Pier for a VIP
Preview of the Expo Art Fair. Our next day began with “Charles Ray Sculpture,
1997-2014,” a mid-career retrospective, again with breakfast at the Art Institute of
Chicago, then a visit to private collections of both world-class and emerging artists
before returning to the Fair, a well-laid-out plan that featured 20th and 21st century
national and international artists. While there, a Dialogues Keynote featured Thelma
Golden, Franklin Sirmans, and Solveig Ovstebo discussing “The Global Impact of
Public Collections,” highlighted by Golden’s reveal of an informed intuition as a
guide for her selections. Our final day gave us quiche and Quinn, one of the artists to
be presented as a selection at our annual dinner. We then met with Ebony Patterson,
another selection choice, who discussed her works using hand-embellished
tapestries to address social issues. Mana Contemporary, a converted industrial
building now housing artist studios, arts nonprofits, and art services, was an
opportunity to engage with artists working in affordable spaces. The Smart Museum
and a Jessica Stockholder installation, the Renaissance Society with Serbian artist
Krena Haiduk, and the Logan Center for the Arts featuring Agnes Varda’s films and
video installations, all at the University of Chicago, was a multi-focused ending.

From beginning to end with meeting at gift shops, enjoying coffee in the VIP Lounge,
and eating exceedingly well at locally-suggested restaurants, an anonymous
summation says it all, “Wassan and Carrie are wonderful . . . young, high-energy,
knowledgeable, and fun to be with on these great trips”.

Collector’s Circle Trip to the Havana Biennial
May 22-28, 2015


Collectors Circle Trip to Los Angeles
April 9-12, 2015


The Collectors Circle spent four days in Los Angeles visiting artist studios and private collections, touring museums, and enjoying group meals. The group kicked off the trip on Thursday, April 9 with a private visit and VIP opening for the solo exhibition Enrique Martinez Celaya: Lone Star at the L.A. Louver. Installed throughout all of the L.A. Louver’s gallery spaces, the exhibition featured new paintings, sculptures, installations, and writings by artist Enrique Martinez Celaya. Dinner followed at famed Japanese restaurant, Nobu.

On Friday, CC members visited the studios of artists Mark Bradford and Sterling Ruby, as well as the private collection of Mandy and Cliff Einstein. The Einstein’s have developed one of the most formidable art collections in the country, listed together as one of America’s Top 100 collectors by Art and Antiques magazine. The group also spent time at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an institution with a comprehensive collection of over 120,000 objects. They enjoyed authentic Mexican cuisine for lunch at La Casita Mexicana, and had the evening on their own to unwind after a full day!

Saturday morning included visits to the studios of artists Glenn Kaino and Sam Falls, followed by catered lunch at the Hammer Museum’s café. After lunch, the group toured The Hammer museum’s current major exhibitions: Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio, Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now, and Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989. Next, they traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a guided tour of the exhibition: William Pope.L: Trinket. After an afternoon of touring exhibitions, they attended artist Diana Al-Hadid’s Gallery Opening Reception at the OHWOW Gallery in West Hollywood. Farewell dinner took place at the Church Key LA.

Recent Events


Collector’s Circle Salon
February 5, 2016
6:00 PM
Home of Rebecca and Jack Drake

Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, will give a presentation on the work of Bethany Collins, our inaugural lobby projects artist. Wassan will share behind-the-scenes photos, works from her past projects, and other fun tidbits and teasers about this exciting new project at the Museum.

CANCELLED: John Morton Annual Lecture in Photography
February 4, 2016
7:00 PM // BMA Steiner Auditorium

with contemporary artist Leslie Hewitt

Collector’s Circle Salon
January 8, 2016
6:00 PM

Welcome cocktails with visiting artist Bethany Collins

Art Papers Live
January 9, 2016
11:00 AM

What the Body Can Say: A conversation between Natasha Trethewey and Bethany Collins moderated by scholar Ivy Wilson

Annual Chenoweth Lecture
November 5, 2015
7:00 PM // BMA Steiner Auditorium

BMA Steiner Auditorium

Carter Foster, Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art, will discuss the Whitney’s new home, a Renzo Piano-designed building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

Collector’s Circle Salon
November 19, 2015
6:00 PM

2015 has been an incredible year for Collectors Circle travel. Join the group to share stories and photos of recent trips, including Cuba, Chicago, and Venice.

 Collectors Circle 23rd Anniversary Dinner
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Collector’s Circle Salon
September 24, 2015
6:00-8:00 PM

Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, will share artwork selections for annual Collectors Circle dinner voting.

Collector’s Circle Salon
August 20, 2015
6:00-8:00 PM
The home of John Hagefstration

At this special Salon, we will welcome new Collectors Circle members from the Photography Guild, and John will speak briefly about his collection of 20th-century photography.

Collector’s Circle Salon Vamp and Tramp
June 25, 2015
6:00 PM
The home of Tina Ruggieri  

BMA Librarian Lindsey Reynolds will give an introduction on artists’ books and their importance to the Hanson Library’s collection.

Special guests Bill & Vicky Stewart of Vamp & Tramp booksellers will follow with a presentation on contemporary fine press and artists’ books. A selection of works from their inventory of rare artists’ books and fine press materials will be available to browse, including books by local and international artists. Based in Birmingham, the Stewarts are one of the premier vendors of handmade artists’ books, traveling the United States with their vast and unique collection, selling to libraries, museums, collectors, and retail shops. They are frequent lecturers on artists’ books at major events, including conferences, and they have been working closely with individual book artists for more than a decade.

Special Lecture with Paper Conservator
June 17, 2015
12:00 PM
Birmingham Museum of Art Members Room

SieglerThe BMA welcomes Dr. Sheila Siegler, DIC, FIIC, MAIC, who is currently a freelance paper conservator, lecturer, and science consultant. This is an event for members of BMA support groups only.

In her talk, Dr. Siegler will discuss what paper is and how it’s made; what deteriorates paper (light, humidity, insects, humans, and more); how to stop deterioration; and how to care for your collection at home, especially photographs.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring 1-2 works on paper from your personal collections. Dr. Siegler will comment on the condition of your works, as well as recommend treatments. Lunch will not be served at the event; however, we encourage you to meet your friends before or after the event for lunch in Oscar’s Café.

Collector’s Circle Salon
May 16, 2015
6:00 PM
Private Collection Visit

Be part of the unveiling of a new site-specific sculpture by artist Jo Nigoghossian and enjoy the opening of an exhibition of works on paper, curated by Fuel and Lumber.

Collectors Circle Salon
April 23, 2015
6:00 PM
The home of Rick and Patricia Sprague

Please join us at our April salon at the home of Rick and Patricia Sprague. Artist Frank Fleming, whose work is featured at the Museum now in the exhibition Between Fantasy and Reality: Frank Fleming, will be our guest for the evening. We will also welcome Ramiro Gomez, juror and featured poster artist at this year’s Magic City Art Connection.

Meet and Greet with Rick Lowe
April 8, 2015
6:00 PM
Birmingham Museum of Art

Collectors Circle hosts a meet & greet with Rick Lowe followed by a lecture at 7:00 pm titled Social and Community Engaged Art: The Genuine and the Artificial.

Collectors Circle Salon
March 27, 2015
6:00 PM
The home of Jack and Rebecca Drake

CC Salon with artist Derrick Adams

Derrick Adams performance “The Entertainer”
March 28, 2015
7:00 PM
Birmingham Museum of Art

Collector’s Circle Salon
November 19, 2014
5:30 -7:30 PM

Collector’s Circle travel to New Orleans for Prospect New Orleans
October 23-26, 2014

Click here to see the full itinerary for the trip.

Collector’s Circle Annual Acquisition Dinner
October 16, 2014
6:00 PM
Birmingham Museum of Art

Salon with artist Maegan Hill-Carroll  and the Photography Guild
October 14
6:00 PM
Omni Studio
2309 1st Avenue North
Birmingham AL

Art Papers Live
Slavs and Tatars: Long Legged Linguistics
Saturday, September 20, 2014
11:00 AM
Birmingham Museum of Art

Slavs and Tatars joined ART PAPERS and the BMA to explore the potential of language-and particularly, of transliteration, or the conversion of scripts-as a strategy of both resistance and research into notions of identity politics, colonialism, and faith.

Slavs and Tatars’ sculpture Rahle for Richard (2013) will be on view in the BMA’s Contemporary Galleries starting in September 2014.

Private Dinner Welcoming Art Papers to Birmingham
with special guest Slavs and Tatars
Friday, September 19, 2014
6:30 PM

Guests joined ART PAPERS at the Home of Robin and Carolyn Wade.

Collection visit to the home of Michael Straus
Thursday, July 10
6:00 PM

On  Thursday, July 10 Collector’s Circle members visited Michael Straus’ art collection at his warehouse-office space. Having built an in-depth collection featuring notable artists such as Tara Donovan, Ivan Navarro, Andy Warhol and Keith Sonnier, Michael’s collection consists largely of minimalist, as well as conceptually-driven drawings, paintings, and sculptures.


Collector’s Circle Salon
At the home of Stan and Beverly Erdreich
Thursday, June 26

5:30 PM

Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art discussed some initial thoughts and ideas about exhibitions, programs, and collecting areas, as well as possibilities for future Salon topics and group travel.