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PaperCity May 2024 Dallas

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Art NOTES By Catherine D. Anspon Carl and Marilynn Thoma with (from left) Robert Wilson's Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 2013, and Andrés Solano's Portrait of Ana Josepha de Castañeda y de la Reguera, 1776, at the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation. 24 T homa Tour de Force: A rising tide lifts all boats, and in this case Dallas Art Fair has not only made Dallas the epicenter of Texas' collecting energy, but it's been a magnet for the arrival of a game-changing art foundation. Cue the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, which joins the city's storied private The Rachofsky Collection (showcased at The Warehouse), Green Family Art Foundation, and Alden and Janelle Pinnell's The Power Station. Not only was this year's Dallas Art Fair successful — again bookended by Dallas Invitational, an elevated smaller fair curated by And Now gallerist James Cope at the Fairmont Hotel — but it inspired the Thoma Foundation to throw open its Uptown doors for fair-time VIP groups and tours, after moving quietly into its new space 18 months ago. This exciting first look at a remarkable private foundation owned by the philanthropic Carl and Marilynn Thoma — the couple relocated from Chicago to Dallas in 2022, for the weather and community — was one of the stories spun around Fair time. I'd only learned of the now Dallas- based foundation when Artnews Top 200 Collectors 2023 issue hit the stands. Not even my well-connected art-savvy Dallas colleagues had this collecting couple on their radar. Flash forward to April 2024, and arts maven Libby Tilley, now directing PR for the Thoma Foundation, reached out with an irresistible invite for a private tour during Dallas Art Fair weekend. I replied "YES!!" and the following Friday afternoon, found myself ensconced in a private collection minutes from the Arts District, on Cedar Springs. Artnews had not prepared me for this handsome live/work building, where the foundation occupies more than half the second floor, an impressive, yet intimate 9,300 square feet dedicated to the collection that also serves as the Thoma Family office. Works by Yinka Shonibare CBE RA and a classic Morris Louis striped, color-fiend canvas from 1961 greeted, while paintings from the Spanish Americas, spanning the 17th through 19th centuries held court interspersed with connoisseur-level displays of Japanese bamboo basketry, and a buoyant yellow column by Anne Truitt. Curator Dr. Verónica Muñoz-Nájar and collection manager Meagan Robson began a tour, which was interrupted by founder Carl Thoma. The four of us adjourned to the conference room, while two parts of a nine-channel video by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson screened. Carl, soft-spoken, convivial, and low-key, shared details of their tour de force collection. His day job is managing partner and founder Thoma Bravo, a private equity corporation that specializes in technology, one of the largest software investors in the world. Wife, Marilynn, his partner in collecting, was at the couple's home, so we missed meeting; she's the force behind the Art of the Spanish Americas collection (examples of which figure in long-term loans to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Blanton Museum of Art, Austin). The couple met in college at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and have been on an acquisition journey together that began "about 25 to 30 years ago," says Carl. "We started out collecting art by Taos founders and New Mexico modernists. All of that is in our Santa Fe home now," he says. Marilynn had her own corporate career, with a Stanford MBA and an executive position at Quaker Oats; their family includes two children, Margo Thoma and Mark Thoma, both on the family board. Margo also owns TAI Modern in Santa Fe, a gallery specializing in contemporary American and Japanese bamboo art. Carl and Marilynn sit on numerous cultural boards from the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Humanities Festival, and Blanton Museum of Art National Leadership (Marilynn) to the Hirshhorn Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Terra Foundation for American Art, and SITE Santa Fe (Carl). They also have a passion for pinots, founding the 25-year old Van Duzer Vineyards in Oregon. The story continues at Thoma Foundation; appointment only, TIRA HOWARD

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