Chapman University bills this mostly contemporary collection as a “gallery without walls”—the art, spread throughout the campus, is accessible now that security measures have been installed. More than 700 pieces amassed by Chapman curator Maggi Owens include big names such as Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, Tony DeLap, Ed Ruscha, and Claes Oldenburg.
The Escalettes, of Lido Island, became involved with Chapman about eight years ago at a friend’s suggestion, Ross says. They met Owens and were impressed with what she did on a minimal budget, so they asked that their donations to the school support her work. In 2009, the couple—he’s also a Chapman trustee—gave a $2 million endowment gift, and the collection was named after them.
Ross and Phyllis support the collection because they like immediate results from their donations, and enjoy seeing how their money is spent. “I don’t pretend to be an art expert, but we saw a need here,” says Ross, who adds they like that the collection is open to the community. “There are no turnstiles or tickets; you can visit any time.”
Browse a gallery of this artist’s other work
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.