Portrait of MC’s 11th president unveiled

Portrait of MC’s 11th president unveiled

June 25, 2020

Dr. Tom Bogart’s 10-year tenure as Maryville College’s 11th president ends June 30, 2020, but his legacy – and portrait – will remain on campus.

Bogart’s presidential portrait, painted by MC Professor of Art Dr. Carl Gombert, was unveiled virtually – and piece-by-piece – on the College’s social media accounts during the week of June 22. (A public unveiling and other public farewell events were originally planned but had to be altered, due to COVID-19).

The painting will hang in the Lamar Memorial Library of Thaw Hall, alongside the portraits of the College’s previous 10 presidents.

The Maryville College Board of Directors commissioned Gombert to create the painting. Gombert, whose work has been exhibited in more than 300 shows and is included in numerous museums and public collections, also was commissioned to create the presidential portrait for Maryville College’s 10th president, Dr. Gerald Gibson, upon Gibson’s retirement in 2010.

Gombert studied drawing and painting at the University of Akron in Ohio and Kent State University and earned his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary fine arts from Texas Tech University. He has taught painting, drawing and art history at Maryville College since 1993.

The portrait is oil on canvas and measures 30-by-40 inches. The image, composed from numerous photographs taken by the artist, depicts Bogart wearing his academic regalia and presidential medallion. He is standing in front of a window overlooking Anderson Hall. Among Bogart’s accomplishments at Maryville College is the completion of a $7.6 million interior renovation of the building, which was originally constructed in 1870.

“Because the renovation of Anderson Hall is one of Dr. Bogart’s signature accomplishments, the painting portrays him in front of a window overlooking the iconic campus landmark,” Gombert said.

Gombert said he wanted to create a pose and expression “that suggest something formal but not formidable – and something both firm but friendly.”

The portrait also includes a signature Gombert feature. A fan of art that includes “mystery bonus prizes,” Gombert often creates elements that “reward the diligent viewer,” meaning the people who are willing to spend more time looking at the art can continue to find things they wouldn’t have seen before. As a subtle way to commemorate, visually, Bogart’s 10 years of service, he embedded 10 small circles in the window frame.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to create Dr. Bogart’s portrait,” Gombert, who took three months to complete the painting. “The processes of drawing and painting are deeply satisfying. Although the methods are straightforward, making images involves a kind of magic that arises when little dabs of colored grease are arranged in such a way that a likeness appears. I am also interested in the conventions and iconography of portraiture.”

Bogart and his wife, Mary, had the opportunity to see the painting for the first time on June 24, during a private unveiling in the Lamar Memorial Library of Thaw Hall, which was attended by the Bogarts, Gombert, Dr. Mary Kay Sullivan (chair of the MC Board of Directors) and several staff members.

Additionally, Mary Bogart was presented with a framed collection of the uniquely designed invitations to her annual Spring Ladies Luncheon. Cards and emails to Mary from previous luncheon participants that were received at the College in the last few months were also presented.

Upon seeing the painting for the first time, Bogart said it’s “unbelievable to think that I get to be in such impressive company in Thaw Hall.”

“It’s especially meaningful that Carl Gombert, an incredible colleague and talented artist, was the one to paint the portrait,” Bogart said, adding (jokingly) that “given the subject matter, [Gombert] did pretty well. You can tell he’s a professional.

“The incorporation of Anderson Hall – the renovation of which was one of the highlights of my time here – was a gracious touch,” Bogart said.

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”