Annual Report

Notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of members of the Society for Asian Art will be held in Samsung Hall, Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street, on May 14, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. for the following purposes:


To elect 10 Directors to serve until the next Annual Meeting of members to be held in May 2016, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified.


To transact such other business as properly may be brought before the meeting or any adjournment or postponement thereof.


The Nominating Committee submitted the names of the following nominees for re-election as Directors: Sheila Dowell, BJ Johnson, Anne Kahn, Julie Nemeth, Greg Potts, Merrill Randol, Kalim Winata, and Barbara Wirth plus two new members for election.


The names of additional nominees may be submitted to the Board of Directors for review not less than twenty (20) days prior to the meeting. The petitions shall be signed by not less than twenty (20) members in good standing and shall contain the information required by Section 3 of Article IX of the Bylaws. Each member in good standing is entitled to one vote on each matter considered at the meeting.  No proxy voting is permitted. All voting is conducted in person.


By order of the Board of Directors,





Jeanne Dorward




May 14, 2015


The members of the Nominating Committee for the year 2014-2015 are Chair Jeanne Dorward, Alice Trinkl, Nazneen Spliedt, Fred Sheng, and Carolyn Young.



The following Members of the Society for Asian Art desire to serve as Directors and are nominated for election to serve their first two-year term of office: Trista Berkovitz, Sylvia Wong.


The following Directors of the Society for Asian Art will complete their first two-year term and are nominated for election to serve a second two-year term: Sheila Dowell, Greg Potts, Merrill Randol, Kalim Winata.


The following Directors of the Society for Asian Art will complete their second two-year term and are nominated for election to serve a third two-year term: BJ Johnson, Anne Kahn, Julie Nemeth, Barbara Wirth.


Directors with one year remaining on their two-year terms: Rick Beleson, Annie Dorsey, Jeanne Dorward, Vince Fausone, Maureen Hetzel, Mel Hetzel, Jennifer Kao, Kristl Lee, Linda Lei, Sherlyn Leong, David Menke, Teri Sandison, Peter Sinton, Nazneen Spliedt, Lucy Sun, Alice Trinkl.


The following previously elected Directors are retiring from the Board of Directors: Judy Fraschella, Phyllis Kempner.


The following ex-officio Directors will continue to serve: Forrest McGill andDeborah Clearwaters.



Report from the Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee recommends the following members for a first two-year term to the Board of Directors of the Society for Asian Art.


Trista Berkovitz, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara in Chemical Engineering, is a very active member of the SAA (AoA lecture series, Study Groups, Literature & Culture, Conversations, etc.). She has lived in Japan, has studied Japanese for more than 10 years, and has a strong understanding of Japanese culture and art. She is currently on the Travel Committee and last year was a key member of the Souk Committee. She is also a volunteer for the AAM in Visitor Services.


Sylvia Wong graduated from the AAM docent training program in 2014. A long-time member of the SAA and a participant in many of its activities including SAA trips, Artist Studio Visits, dinners and lectures, she serves on the Member Events Committee. A former teacher with a Master’s in Education, she is enthusiastic about helping connect the SAA with the community.


Society for Asian Art President’s Report 2014-2015


As President, I am pleased to share the Annual Report of the Society for Asian Art – with many thanks to the board members, committees, and volunteers who sustain and support this remarkable organization. Upholding the Society’s legacy of outstanding and innovative programs was our foremost priority this year, and I was impressed not only by the sheer number and diversity of our offerings, but also by the notable increase in participation across the board. Furthermore, important upgrades and improvements were made to ensure that the Society fulfills its cultural, educational, and social mission for many years to come.


The sold-out Fall lectures were dedicated entirely to the history of Islamic art – a first for the Society – and the Spring series, titled “Masterpieces and Iconic Artworks from the Asian Art Museum,” focused on individual works from the Museum’s collection. Literature and Culture courses offered in-depth study of the Mughal World and of Islamic culture to a fully subscribed audience on Sunday mornings. Also well attended, the Study Group’s workshops learned about Indian Vedas and later texts, and Pan Asian carpets. Meanwhile, the Travel Committee organized four unforgettable trips to domestic and international destinations: Korea last October, the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area last November, the Arabian Gulf States this March, and Ashland, Oregon this April. We look forward to touring Northern Europe and Berlin in August.


Busier than ever, the Member Events Committee planned several events per month, including lectures and artist demonstrations, as well as the successful Holiday party at Tansu Design, the 10-course Lunar New Year banquet, and the upcoming Annual Meeting on May 14, with a lecture by the Museum’s Deputy Director, Dr. Pedro Moura Carvalho. The Upper Category Committee organized the ever popular “conversations” with scholars, and visits to artist studios were highlights for members at the Sponsor level. The book sale netted over $8,600 and the Souk $30,000, with all proceeds benefiting the Asian Art Museum’s library and SAA’s annual donation to the Museum. Thanks to all members for their fabulous donations (and purchases), plus the year-round coordination of more than 60 volunteers, who made these important fundraisers possible. 


In terms of publications, the Society continues to produce scholarly articles in Lotus Leaves on a semi-annual basis, as well as our informative bimonthly SAA Newsletter. By working closely with the Museum’s PR Department to feature lectures and travel programs in the A Magazine, the Publicity Committee has also gained greater visibility for SAA. And speaking of greater visibility, the Web Committee reported increased traffic to our website and made other improvements, while also developing new apps for mobile devices that are expected to be completed by the summer.


On the administrative front, SAA’s longtime Office Manager, Jim Frank, accepted a position with the City of Millbrae City Planning Department last fall. We wish Jim all the best in his new endeavors and welcome our new Office Manager, Jean Karnow, who has stepped in without skipping a beat! During the staffing transition, the Bylaws and Operating Procedures Committee updated all committee operating procedures and published the first-ever SAA Policies Manual. Kudos to all who worked on this monumental task! Furthermore, the annual term of office for SAA's Directors was aligned with the fiscal year, from July 1 through June 30. This positive change in the Bylaws was passed by the Board in March. Additionally, the Finance Committee has been consistently meeting with our financial advisor to ensure that our investments and day-to-day financial operations are sound. I am proud to report that SAA’s finances are well managed, enabling us to contribute an average of $100,000 to the Museum each year.


And finally, I have a very exciting announcement: the Board unanimously approved a contemporary art commission by ceramic artist Liu Jianhua to commemorate the Museum’s 50th Anniversary in 2016. The work will occupy the northwest alcove of the Loggia and be a focal point for many years to come. SAA will certainly be making further announcements about the commission in the coming months.


As my first year as President draws to a close, I expend my deepest gratitude to the volunteers who have generously devoted their time and energy to SAA this year, as well as our enthusiastic program participants. It is only with such incredible support that the Society is able to offer wide-ranging and high quality programs, while contributing to the Asian Art Museum’s educational endeavors. A heartfelt “thank you” to all!


Most Sincerely,

Linda Shen Lei




Educational Programs

Arts of Asia

The Fall Arts of Asia lecture series, “Arts of the Islamic World,” was the first time the Society devoted an entire 15-lecture series to the history of Islamic art. Beginning with pre-Islamic Iran and Arabia, the series provided an introduction to topics that included Islamic ceramics, architecture, manuscript painting and calligraphy. Lectures featured several prominent scholars from the United Kingdom (University of Edinburgh, Oxford, and the British Museum) in addition to U.S. scholars and Museum curators.


The Spring series, “Masterpieces and Iconic Artworks of the Asian Art Museum,” was designed to celebrate the Museum’s most important artworks and serve as a lead-in to the Museum’s 50thAnniversary festivities. Most lectures have focused on a single object – examining in depth not only its aesthetics but also historical context and artistic influences. Speakers for this series included both AAM curators and favorite speakers who have lectured for the AoA series in the past like Robert Mowry and Samuel Morse. Co-Chairs are Anne Kahn, Sherlyn Leong (Fall) and Jennifer Kao (Spring); Peter Sinton also serves on the Committee.


Study Groups

The Study Group Committee organizes day long, in depth workshops, usually four times a year on Saturdays. In November of 2014 we had a workshop on the Wellsprings of Indian Culture: The Vedas and Later Indian Texts with Prasad Vepa, who explored for us the development of Indian philosophy and religious practice from on its pre-Hindu roots. In February 2015 Peter Pap Oriental Rug Gallery hosted a highly informative workshop on pan-Asian oriental carpets, illustrated with splendid examples from Mr. Pap's inventory. In May of this year we will have a day with Dr. Alexander von Rospatt on recent scholarship in Buddhist Studies. The Committee consists of Anne Dorsey, Chair; Greg Potts, Jeanne Dorward, and Vince Fausone.

Literature and Culture of Asia

This year the Literature and Culture Committee sponsored two courses. The subject of the Fall 2014 five-week course, “The Mughal World,” was presented by Munis Faruqui (UC Berkeley). The course provided an overview of politics, religion, art, architecture and literary culture of the Mughal Empire in South Asia.An excellent reader supplemented the presentations in the course. The Spring 2015 course will be abbreviated to just two sessions because of multiple schedule conflicts. The two-week course, offered at the end of April, entitled “Islam and the Visual World,” will be presented by Carel Bertram (SFSU) and will focus on visual and literary sources of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and of Istanbul as the urban ideal of the Ottoman Turkish Islamic culture. The Literature and Culture Committee is composed of Judy Fraschella, Chair; Melanie Reamy, Dan Sullivan, Anne Kahn, Greg Potts, and Vince Fausone.


Events for Members

Member Events

The Member Events’ Committee is chaired by Nazneen Spliedt. Members of the Committee are: Annie Dorsey, Jennifer Kao, Phyllis Kempner, Kristl Lee, Julie Nemeth, Ehler Spliedt, Graeme Vanderstoel, Kalim Winata, Barbara Wirth, Sylvia Wong. During the past year we held an average of two to three events a month ranging from scholarly talks, gallery visits, visits to artist’s studios followed by dinner or lunch at a nearby "ethnic" restaurant, and social events like dine-around at restaurants. The Annual Holiday party was held at Tansu Design and the Spring dinner at Hong Kong Lounge. We also used a few of the Arts of Asia speakers on a Saturday to give talks on some aspect of their specialty. We try to keep the subjects wide ranging and not necessarily tied to the Arts of Asia theme or the Museum's current exhibition themes to attract more people to our events. Saturday afternoon events are well attended and attract drop-ins. During the months the Museum is open on Thursday evenings, depending upon space availability, the Events Committee is also responsible for organizing talks on an occasional Thursday evening.  Most of our speakers are scholars and/or visiting artists from around the Bay area, as well as Curators and Advisors. The Events Committee also organized the Annual Meeting, featuring the Indian Consul General as the speaker.


Upper Category Member Events

Highlights of the year’s events included a studio visit for Sponsors to Chinese artist Hong Liu in Oakland, and conversations with Dr. Massumeh Farhad of Freer Sackler in advance of Roads of Arabia; Dr. Susan Huntington, scholar of South Asian art at Ohio State, with dinner at the home of Nazneen Spliedt; and Professor Sam Morse of Amherst at the home of Teri Sandison and Hugh Carpenter in Napa Valley. After a full year and half of producing 10 annual programs for the new levels of Upper Category while restricting Conversation attendance to only the top two levels of members, the Committee is piloting in the spring season a return to allowing Contributing Members to attend Conversations, making all upper categories eligible for these six yearly events. The results will be reported to the Board for its consideration at the end of the fiscal year. Committee Members: Lucy Sun, Chair; Richard Beleson, Sheila Dowell, Phyllis Kempner, Sherlyn Leong, Merrill Randol, and Ehler Spliedt.



The Travel Committee is co-chaired by Teri Sandison andGreg Potts. Members of the Committee include Ed and Neaera Baer, Trista Berkovitz, Sheila Dowell, Mary Hunt, Anne Kahn, Jennifer Kao, Phyllis Kempner, Bianca Larson, Linda Lei, David Menke, Merrill Randol, Gail Uilkema, and Susan Wait. This year the Travel Committee organized two foreign trips and two domestic trips. It should be noted that each trip participant makes a required donation to the SAA as part of their registration fee.


Foreign Travel

Mountains and Dragons: Discovering Korea (October 2014): In a trip designed to unravel this country's unique culture, SAA travelers spent two weeks discovering mountain temples, city palaces, ancient tombs, sweeping landscapes, and classical Korean pottery accompanied by Professor Robert Mowry. Travelers were also able to explore the dynamic world of contemporary Korean art and galleries in a four night trip extension led by the Asian Art Museum's curator of Korean Art, Hyonjeong Kim Han.


Through the Mihrab: Exploring Islamic Art and Architecture, Past and Present (March 2015): Twenty-one lucky SAA members traveled to Dubai, Doha, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Oman with scholar Bruce Wannell. In addition to seeing architectural, archaeological and historical sites as well as museums, trip participants visited private art collections and art galleries. A very memorable part of the trip was attending Art Dubai, a prestigious international contemporary art fair, as VIP guests.


Domestic Travel

Asian Art Texas Style (November 2014): Twenty SAA members had the privilege of being guided through the major museums in Dallas and Fort Worth by Dr. Emily Sano, former Director of the Asian Art Museum. In addition to meeting museum curators, the group met with famed author, consultant and collector of Indonesian textiles, Steven G. Alpert, who invited them to his home to see his private collection.


A Fun Weekend of Plays and Asian Art in Ashland (April 2015): The highlight of this event-packed weekend is attending the opening of the first-ever professional American production of one of the best known Chinese plays, “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land,” performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The fortunate travelers will also be able to meet the famous Taiwan-based playwright/director, Stan Lai.



The 2014 Souk was a success due to the incredible generosity of 150+ donors and the tireless work of some 60+ SAA volunteers. A hearty "thank you" to those who contributed to our financial success of $30,000 net revenue. The Souk was held October 25-26, 2014 at Fort Mason's Firehouse, but work had begun in June 2013 when the Committee received its first donation.  From August 2013 to October 2014 there were six scheduled drop off dates and many home pickups of donations. Over 4,000 items were donated, and the crowds attending responded to the quality of the goods being offered. Committee Co-Chairs were Maureen Hetzel and Greg Potts; Committee members were Trista Berkovitz, Mel Hetzel, Steve Pegors, and Peter Sinton.

Publications and Public Relations


Chaired by Jeanne Dorward and Judy Fraschella, this Committee publishes the Society for Asian Art Newsletter six times per year. The newsletter publicizes the SAA events and programs and often features artwork from the Asian Art Museum exhibitions.  The online version on the SAA website is in full color.  The printed version is mailed to other art institutions and to members who prefer to receive the paper copy.  Both versions support registration for the SAA activities included in the newsletter.


Lotus Leaves

Alice Trinkl is the Editor of this publication. The Fall 2014 issue of Lotus Leaves had a lead article, “The Art of Do Ho Suh: Between Duality and Non Duality,” by Hyonjeong Kim Han, Associate Curator of Korean Art, AAM. The second article was “Snap Shots of the Asian’s Collection: A Registrar’s Fantasy Exhibitions,” by Sharon Steckline, Head of Registration, AAM. The Spring 2015 issue will have an article on Zen Gardens by Professor John Nelson, USF, and an article on Japanese Contemporary Art by Deborah Clearwaters, Director of Education and Interpretation, AAM.



The goal of the Publicity Committee is to promote awareness of the SAA and its programs and events. During 2014-2015, the Committee focused on announcing and selling SAA programs such as the Arts of Asia Friday lecture series, the October Souk sale at Fort Mason and the March book sale. In addition to announcements through the SAA newsletter and website, the Committee worked closely with the Asian Art Museum to have SAA activities listed on its website, calendar and several social media sites. The Museum’s A Magazine also regularly runs a page devoted to SAA activities including the Arts of Asia lecture series and speakers, SAA travel programs, and special activities such as the annual book sale and occasional souk. The Publicity Committee is chaired by Peter Sinton and includes Kristl Lee.


Library/Book Sale

The Society continued its support of the Museum Library with a monthly donation of $1500, for a total of $18,000 annually. Ehler Spliedt, assisted by a wonderful group of volunteers, organized the Annual Society Book Sale which took place in the Loggia of the Museum on March 13. The Book Sale netted over $8600. The Society continues, with others, to support the digitization of the library’s catalog. The Library Committee is chaired by David Menke.



The Website Committee is chaired by Kalim Winataand includesCommittee member Susan Lai. SAA members have increasingly used the website to sign up for events and obtain information about our programs. One of the Committee’simportant goals is to improve the ease-of-use for our members. Accordingly, we have streamlined the event registration process using a check-out cart. We also have added several new features, such as Searchand making the past events accessible on the site. On the back end we have been striving to improvethe efficiency. In additionwe are looking into best practices to reach our members through mobile-friendly platforms.


Development and Outreach


Our membership remains steady with 545 households belonging to the Society for Asian Art, representing about 900 individuals. We continue to recruit new members to account for those not renewing due to relocation or other life events. Our largest category of membership is Senior (41% of memberships). Contributing, Donor, and Sponsor memberships are 38% of our total. We plan outreach mailings to Museum members to ensure their awareness of SAA and our activities. Committee members are Maureen Hetzel, Chair, and BJ Johnson.



The Advisors Committee recruits and supports the Advisors, currently 30 noted academics, researchers, and authors who are experts in various fields of Asian art. Current advisors assisted us with various 2014-2015 SAA activities, including leading an SAA trip, giving lectures on topics of research and publication, and delivering Sunday morning classes in our Literature and Culture series. Advisors are also called upon to suggest academic talent for our various workshops and conversations throughout the year. This year the Committee developed a detailed spreadsheet and cross-reference table of Advisors' expertise and areas of specialty to assist committees in planning events. The Committee organizes an annual spring Advisors' lunch to honor and thank them for their contributions. The lunch allows our advisors to interact with each other and the current SAA Board and provides focus on their current research. Merrill Randol Sherwin is the Chair of the Committee; members include Rick Beleson, Judy Fraschella, Maureen Hetzel, and Mel Hetzel.




The Finance Committee consists of Treasurer Mel Hetzel, Assistant Treasurer Vince Fausone, and four additional members of the Board of Directors: Linda Lei, Ed Baer, BJ Johnson, and David Menke. The Committee meets monthly to review and plan our financial well-being, to address operational issues related to the receipt and movement of monies, and to research and make recommendations on various finance-related issues referred to the Committee. Through bequests received in the past we have an endowment that is very conservatively invested, allowing us to withstand the ups and downs of the market. Our investment earnings continue to help offset the operating expenses that membership fees fail to cover. These earnings also allow us to contribute significant financial support to the Museum. The Society's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. After the 2014-15 fiscal year-end numbers become available in late summer, a detailed financial report will appear in this Newsletter.


Bylaws and Operating Procedures

The Committee continued to update the SAA Operating Procedures and Bylaws as the need arose. It also published the first-ever SAA Policies Manual. Jeanne Dorward chairs the Committee; the members are Mel Hetzel, Maureen Hetzel, Nazneen Spliedt, and Linda Lei.