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COLUMBUS, Ga. — Ambassador and American media mogul Walter Annenberg commissioned renowned artist and Columbus native Bo Bartlett for an official portrait during the 1990s.
Nearly 30 years later, that Pennsylvania appointment painting inspired the late ambassador’s family foundation, The Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles, to gift Columbus State University’s Bo Bartlett Center with $50,000.
“This gift expands our already strong local and regional support to the national level,” said David W. Houston, executive director and chief curator of the center. “This reflects the center’s mission as a national art institution with a strong impact on the local community. It’s the first major gift outside of Georgia. Bo is a master of portraiture — from politicians to composers to everyday people. When he completes a portrait like the one he did for Ambassador Annenberg, his work has a special magic to it.”
Annenberg was the publishing powerhouse behind The Philadelphia Inquirer, creator of Seventeen magazine and developer of national publication TV Guide.
With a profound interest in education, Annenberg founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1971.
From 1969 to 1974, Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, Great Britain. By the 1980s, he sold his publishing and broadcast enterprises and devoted his attention to supporting public service, philanthropy and the arts.
Now, part of Annenberg’s art advocacy extends to Columbus. Next year, the university will open the Bo Bartlett Center, a 18,425-square-foot interactive gallery on the second floor of the Corn Center for the Visual Arts on CSU’s RiverPark campus.
The multidisciplinary space will feature more than 300 paintings and drawings produced by Bartlett. It also will house his complete archive of journals, sketchbooks, photographs and other memorabilia.
“We plan to use this donation to support outreach efforts such as our visits to local public schools, homeless shelters and community lectures,” Houston said. “This donation helps us with our goal of collaborating with leading institutions around the country to provide artistic community projects that make an impact.”