by Elisabeth Walton Potter
The Marion Dean Ross Chapter, SAH, respectfully reports the passing of long-time members as information becomes available. Following are notes on two distinguished academic members who are genuinely missed. Please see citations for the more detailed sources.
Mark Ritter Sponenburgh, sculptor, art historian, and educator, died at his home in Yachats on the central Oregon coast on December 6, 2012 at the age of ninety-four. A native of Michigan, he studied at the University of Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Wayne State University, and elsewhere before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942 after the United States entered World War II. During the war, he served with the Corps of Engineers cartography section of the 9th Engineers Command. When hostilities ended in Europe in 1945, he volunteered for service in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA) which, under auspices of the Allied Armies, was dedicated to recovering works of art confiscated by the Nazi regime. Upon his return from Europe 1946, Sponenburgh joined the faculty of the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. His tenure there of eleven years encompassed teaching and research fellowships in Egypt and London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In the early 1950s, he revised the University’s graduate program in Sculpture and initiated a ground-breaking course sequence, the History of Sculpture. In 1957, his name first appeared on the membership roster of the Pacific Section of the Society of Architectural Historians. His faculty colleague, architectural historian Marion Dean Ross, was a regional organizer of the Society. In the same year, Sponenburgh left the University of Oregon to assist the government of Pakistan in creating a National College of Arts in Lahore. Forty years later, in 1997, he established an endowment fund at the University of Oregon in support of graduate student research and a lectureship on sculpture.
Following the death of his first wife, Huguette Ozanon, in Paris, Sponenburgh returned to Oregon in 1962 to establish a program of Art History at Oregon State University at the invitation of fellow MFAA veteran, Gordon Gilkey. Sponenburgh then married Janeth Hogue Russell. While at Oregon State University he continued traveling and lecturing abroad. After his retirement from the faculty in 1983 he remained active as a museum consultant. Sponenburgh and his wife, Janeth, who died in 1990, donated their extensive collection of American, European, Egyptian, and Asian art to Willamette University, in Salem, where it spurred formation of the University’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art, which was opened to the public in 1998. The Hallie Ford Museum collections include several of sculptor’s fine works. Sponenburgh’s cast bronze figural group, “Town and Gown” (1991), stands near Waller Hall on the Willamette University campus.
- Obituary, Register Guard, Eugene, January 10, 2013.
- “Happy Birthday to Monuments Man Mark Sponenburgh,” The Monuments Men Website blog, June 15th, 2010 (source of portrait photo).
- “Mark Sponenburgh, artist, faculty member, UO donor, dies,” University of Oregon School of Architecture & Allied Arts Website, Thursday, January 3, 2013 (source of photo of “Town and Gown” cast bronze figural group).
Charles S. Rhyne, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Reed College, died in Portland on April 14, 2013 at the age of eighty-one. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, their three children, and four grandchildren. A native of Philadelphia, Rhyne gained his undergraduate education at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, and at Temple University’s Tyler Art School. His post-graduate work at the University of Chicago focused on social philosophy and art history. In 1960, he joined the faculty of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he taught Art History until his retirement in 1997. Early in his tenure he was a Fulbright research fellow at the Courtauld Institute, London. Subsequently, he was a visiting fellow at the Yale Center for British Art; a Kress senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art; and a visiting scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Research Institute, and J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. At Reed in 1989, he introduced a seminar on the theory and practice of conserving works of art. In 2012, for his contributions to the conservator’s discipline, Rhyne was accorded special recognition directed to professionals in allied fields by the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).
The Northern Pacific Coast Chapter, SAH, met at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, in May, 1978 to celebrate the sixty-fifth birthday of Professor Marion Dean Ross and present the founder with a Festschrift in his honor. Among speakers at the memorable assembly was Charles Rhyne, who offered “Structure and Aesthetic Effect in Pacific Northwest Bridges,” a paper emblematic of the author’s wide-ranging interests.
Throughout his career, Rhyne was an active photographer. One of three major Websites he maintained with digital imagery for in-depth visual documentation, study, and analysis focuses on the Ara Pacis Augustae, the sacred monument to the Pax Romana of the Augustan era. The altar was built in 13-9 BCE in the open air of the Campus Martius in Rome. It was moved and reconstructed under Mussolini’s regime in 1937-1938, and moved again to a new museum designed by Richard Meier & Associates and opened to the public in 2006 as the Museo dell’Ara Pacis. Rhyne’s Ara Pacis Augustae Website, as well as those concerned with architecture of the Getty Center and restoration and imaging of Mayan archaeological sites on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, is enlightening and visually rewarding.
- “Reed College’s Charles Rhyne recognized for work on art conservation,” blog for OregonLive.com, by David Stabler of The Oregonian, July 3, 2012.
- Obituary, The Oregonian, Portland, April 17, 2013 (source of portrait photo).
- Charles Rhyne, “The Book Transformed,” Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, Vol. 29, Nos. 1-2, March-June, 2013 (source of photo of the Altar of Augustan Peace). The special issue is devoted to digital art history. Details are available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973762.2013.761128