Midwife to the arts

Thomasin Saxe

Photo By Tom Angel

Thomasin Saxe says she’s happier than she’s ever been these days because, among other things, she has the best job she’s ever had. A longtime university employee, she’s now the director of special projects for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA). Those projects include the Humanities Center Gallery (which she created), the HFA Travel Program, the University Film Series (which she helped resurrect), the Humanities Center (as board member) and, until budget cuts killed it this year, the annual (and excellent) Arts & Letters magazine of the college. With all of these projects, her enthusiastic participation has been vital to their success.

Tell me about the Humanities Center.

We bring guest speakers to campus, organize symposia, sponsor special events. The most recent was the novelist Richard Powers.

How was that?

Fabulous. He was wonderful. People told me he was the best guest we’d ever brought to campus.

Who’s coming next?

Pulitzer Prize-winning American Civil War historian James M. McPherson will be speaking in Laxson Oct. 14.

How’s the film series doing?

Financially, badly. It’s on a donation-only basis, so we get the films cheaper, but it’s definitely seat of the pants. Some films do better than others. Creatively, I think it’s wonderful. We brought [documentary film maker] Les Blank here, we’ve shown art films such as [local filmmaker] Gretchen Hogue’s. We’re showing films you can’t see anywhere else.

It’s what a university should be doing, right?

There are a few of us who think that way. We’re dinosaurs.

Are you enjoying being a gallery curator?

You know, this is an example of finding out by accident something I always liked. I was an art minor in college, and I always loved going to art museums. The [Trinity Hall] space wasn’t being used, so we started putting up shows, and it was so much fun. Now I’m booked through 2007.

It’s become one of the best galleries in town.

I hope so. I am consistently approached by interesting exhibitors and artists.

And with the travel program, you get to go places.

I go to Europe, and it makes money for scholarships! It’s wonderful. We’re going to France in June, with [history professor] Laird Easton leading the tour.

You have a lot of responsibilities.

I just genuinely love this stuff, so it’s easy for me to do.