Mary Denison: Shared,
encouraged a love of art
August 22, 2003
BY JEANNE MAY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Mary Moore Denison, who poured art
into the lives of people all across Michigan, died of pancreatic cancer
Sunday at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
She was 71 and lived in Birmingham.
"She had a passion for the arts," her
daughter, Cristina, said Thursday. "That was her job in life. For years,
she supported young artists, up-and-coming artists. She saw talent as it
was developing and supported it by buying their art and encouraging
For more than 30 years, Mrs. Denison
had been a trustee of the Founders Society of the Detroit Institute of
Arts and a governor of the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
"For more than half a century, Mary
Denison was a vital member of the Cranbrook community: first as a
student, then as a parent of two Cranbrook Schools graduates and, most
recently, as a governor of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum,"
Rick Nahm, president of the Cranbrook Educational Community, wrote in a
tribute. "Mary had a passion for art and architecture that knew no
Mrs. Denison was born in Detroit,
grew up in Royal Oak, graduated from Kingswood School-Cranbrookand
earned a bachelor's degree in sociology at the University of Michigan.
She served in a string of art groups
Artistic director of the Detroit
Director of the Detroit Focus
Cofounder of the Meadowbrook Art
Grant reviewer for the Michigan
Council for the Arts and Culture.
Board member of the Michigan Art
Train, the Detroit Zoo Art Advisory and the Michigan Legacy Arts Park.
Chairwoman of the Birmingham Public
She belonged to the International
Committee for P.S. 1, part of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and
was made an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for
championing contemporary architecture.
She was also commissioned to build
art collections for Kmart, the Maccabees Royal Life Insurance Co., ANR,
Nissan, IBM and the Smith Group.
She loved to visit her family cottage
at Crystal Lake near Traverse City.
"She got to know all the artists that
live in that area," her son, Dirk, said. "She had exhibits in her home
where she'd provide for young artists the opportunity to have their work
Besides her daughter and her son,
survivors include a brother; a granddaughter, and her longtime partner,
The funeral will be at 11:30 a.m.
today at the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, 1589 W. Maple
Road. A memorial service will be held next month at a time to be decided
The family suggests memorial
donations to the Mary Denison Purchase Fund for Contemporary Art,
Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit 48202; the Mary
Denison Scholarship Fund, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 39221 Woodward Ave.,
Bloomfield Hills 48303; the Karmanos Cancer Institute, 18881 Twelve Mile
Road, Lathrup Village 48076, or the First United Methodist Church of
Birmingham, 1589 W. Maple Road, Birmingham 48009.
Contact JEANNE MAY at 586-469-4682or
Click here for the
Free Press obit link
( Aug.19th, 2003)
Funeral arrangements for
William Sullivan &
Son Funeral Home
705 West Eleven Mile Road
Royal Oak (4 blocks east of Woodward, south side of street)
August 20 - 7:00 - 9:00 P.M.
Thursday, August 21 - 2:00 - 4:00 PM and 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Mary's funeral will be
held on Friday, August 22.
First United Methodist Church of Birmingham
1589 West Maple Road
10:30 AM In State / Funeral Service 11:30 AM
Luncheon following the service at the church.
Mary's family has
designated the following institutions for memorial gifts:
Mary Denison Purchase Fund for Contemporary Art, Detroit Institute
Mary Denison Scholarship Fund, Cranbrook Academy of Art
First United Methodist Church of Birmingham
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Foundation
With great sadness that
I announce the death of Mary Denison. A longtime champion of the arts,
Mary was a member of the Friends of Modern Art Board and was a founding
member of the Modern Decorative Arts Group, in addition to being a DIA
Board of Directors Emeritus Director. Mary also served numerous
other boards and arts organizations throughout the city and state. Her
warmth, energy, wisdom and advocacy
will be missed. She succumbed to her battle with cancer yesterday.
Funeral arrangements are pending (William Sullivan and Son Funeral Home
of Royal Oak). Condolences may be sent to Gary Kulak, Mary's partner, or
to her children Dirk Denison and Tina Denison at 651 Oak, Birmingham, MI
Rebecca R. Hart
Modern and Contemporary Art
The Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Avenue
Detroit MI 48202
313-833-4788 / fax 313-831-2825
It is so funny but for
some reason Mary came to mind yesterday and what is really bizarre is
the reason I was thinking about her is that I was pondering the
uniqueness of character and positive influence she brought to the art
community and lamenting the lack of such an individual at present. She
brought people together in ways no one could then or now. What a huge
loss this is for all of us.
To survivors of Mary Denison,
I offer my sincere heartfelt condolences.
When I lived in Detroit I heard often of the good work Ms. Denison did
within the arts community and always had my respect seeing and hearing
of the work of another advocate in the arts.
Sincerely, Bob McKeown (former, Metro