Static: Wednesday, October 3, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Velma Who?

The Star-T’s recent heap of praise on Kay Fortson as the visionary who single-handedly brought us the Louis Kahn-designed Kimbell Art Museum 30 years ago was more misguided than a Scud missile. The article left out names of all the other folks who made Fort Worth’s crown jewel possible, including founder Kay Kimbell’s wife Velma. And, Kay Fortson’s hubby Ben was not one of the executors of Kay Kimbell’s estate when the old man died in 1964.

Kimbell left his considerable estate to the Kimbell Art Foundation, a nonprofit he set up in 1936 to buy art and eventually establish an “art institute” to bring his and his wife’s collection to this city’s great unwashed. The foundation was under the stewardship of six executors — Kay Kimbell’s wife Velma, niece Kay, brother-in-law Coleman Carter, and three non-family members. Ben F. didn’t enter the picture until he was put on the board in 1970. The daily gives Kay Fortson credit for getting the museum ball rolling, including overseeing its construction and luring Richard Brown here to become its founding director. But Kimbell’s unassuming wife Velma was the real mover and shaker behind the creation of the Kimbell, according to news reports at the time, the Handbook of Texas Online, and a few old-timers’ memories. According to these sources, Velma Kimbell was hands-on co-chairman of the board and the quiet dynamo who persuaded Brown to become its founding director and then guided the museum through construction and development. Velma and Brown are dead, but revisionist history and advertising dollars live on.

Thin Wallet, Big Shirt

Neil Young’s charismatic Sept. 21 Farm Aid performance inspired Static to dig into its shallow pockets. Young’s set included performances of his classic hits interspersed with aching pleas to support small American farmers who are being displaced by corporate farms that harm the environment while producing tasteless food. “Eat good food,” Young kept saying, urging shoppers to buy at farmers’ markets rather than chain groceries. An emotional Static called the 800 number and donated $50, which entitled Static to a Farm-Aid t-shirt. “What size?” a woman asked. “XXL,” Static had to admit, since its vegetable intake is limited to the small amount of lettuce found in Jack in the Box tacos, and its fruit ingestion consists of the occasional strawberry daquiri. Still, the donation was fitting, since a mass consumption of hops and barley is what got Static all misty and charitable in the first place.

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