Myra Daniels, CEO of the Naples Philharmonic and Museum of Art:
After the debut of a major sculpture, are more acquisitions on the radar for the Naples Museum of Art?
What’s comes next for the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra?
Tom Scott, Lee County School Board chairman:
Could the next superintendent be a businessperson rather than a career educator?
They are guests on this week’s “Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle” news/interview program airing Sunday at 10 a.m. on ABC7.
Highlights are online at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Lytle: When you told us about the Louise Nevilson sculpture coming to the museum, you told us it would really be something. And as you say, art stirs the soul.
For once, you undersold it. It’s just magnificent.
Daniels: I am in love with the Louise Nevelson installation.
Lytle: What does that piece say to you?
Daniels: I had .... not quite answering that, but Louise’s closest associate was a woman by the name of Diane McGowan, and she came to see it, and her first words, as she walked into the dome, was: “Oh my God, Louise is here.”
And what she meant was that Louise, when she designed this, wanted it to be in a dome. I didn’t know that.
Lytle: It’s in a dome now.
Daniels: It is a forest. It’s an abstract forest. And it has to stay together. And it has to work together. I’m like a child and glad to see it every day.
Lytle: But the one thing the people have to realize is that it’s not just one piece; it is many pieces that come together to as one.
Daniels: Twelve pieces.
Lytle: The effect is, it just takes your breath away.
Another thing is, you want to touch it.
Daniels: I know. I know. But we don’t suggest that. But it is a piece that she put her heart and soul into, and it was her last major piece. I felt that Diane, her friend and companion, felt that it was the way she originally planned it. And I had no idea.
Jeff, I hadn’t the slightest idea. I knew that was the place for it. Spooky, isn’t it?
Lytle: It truly is.
You had some thoughts before the Nevilson got here that this would — pardon the expression — put the Museum of Art on the map. Of course, it already was on the map.
But has it had that effect?
Daniels: Oh, it’s been wonderful. Yesterday I had a call from a man who has a painting — and I’m going to be a little secretive about this — and it was a painting that nobody else has in this part of the world.
He had read about the Nevelson, and Art News is going to give it a big shot this next week.
Lytle: Art News is a publication?
Daniels: Yes, it’s the No. 1 publication. He asked if we had room for it. I said, I’d break walls; I’d have room for it.
But I don’t know whether it will happen.
We had another foundation contact us to talk to us about our being the recipient of their artists. And so those things take time, but already two major, major ideas have been presented.
Lytle: So that’s the impact of this, that it creates a critical mass and other acquisitions may follow.
Daniels: But I hope that they are in Louise’s level.
One of the things in both of the others ... the two other artists knew Louise and were friends of Louise, and so it falls together.
Crazy as it may sound but I believe it has helped the community; it has helped the staff; it has helped the museum. I think that when you see young and old come by it ... You know what the most prominent word that they use when they walk through door?
Lytle: Well, I believe it. Now the Dale Chihuly glasswork that used to be there is still in the museum.
Daniels: Chihuly was given to us by the Figge family, and I understand they will come to Naples shortly and look at it. We have moved it into the main hall, and it is magnificent.
We have it lit like we couldn’t light it any other way.
That eventually ... I have a dream there. I’m hoping that those two galleries will become a glass gallery with just the finest, finest glass in the world.
Lytle: What is in the future of the museum. Talk about new acquisitions. What else do you see?
Daniels: We’re on a path now. We have a fabulous modern collection. And now Louise is an extension of that, and we’re going into some sculpture. We are going into the major names that came right after the early 1920s and 30s, 40s, and now we’re into the 1980s.
So just keep going.
Lytle: And also education will be a part of that.
Daniels: Oh, big time! Big time.
Lytle: Your election as chairman really caught my attention that we had other, more senior members of the board and you come on as a newcomer, having ousted a long-time member, and you get elected chairman too.
Is that a signal of the way things are going to be? That this really is a new day?
Scott: Yes, I believe so. We had an organizational meeting prior to the first board meeting when we actually took our seats. And the conversation at that meeting was, there is a new direction. The voters have spoken that they want something different, and perhaps my selection as chair is a reflection of that. I believe that it is.
Lytle: Like Collier County, you’re in the process of selecting a new superintendent.
Are there any candidates in-house, in your opinion, and second, how important is the superintendent in terms of what goes on in the classroom?
Because, in my opinion, that’s what counts, not all the reports and all the hoo-ha. What happens in the classrooms is what counts.
Scott: All of that stuff that we do has to focus itself on what’s best in the classroom, not exist for its benefit. And I think that’s kind of a turning of the perspective that this new board is going to accomplish.
The superintendent, that’s going to be the biggest and most powerful decision we make in at least my four years on this board. And we’re taking it very seriously and have begun the actions.
You ask if there are internal candidates. I don’t know whether there are or not.
Lytle: Oh, sure you do.
Scott: I think there are people who would like to be considered for it, and I would encourage them if they are to put their names forward.
But I have also said that this is a very big job. This is a $1.4 billion a year enterprise. It requires a serious and experienced, in my judgment, senior executive to operate it.
I think I get from your question to me, my feeling is I would rather have an experienced senior executive, whether that person comes out of education or not, is not necessarily of great importance to me. It is their ability to manage the entire operation — 10,000 employees — to get done what we’re chartered to get done, which is to provide every kid an opportunity to reach his or her potential.
Lytle: So I might have heard a clue that the next superintendent might not be an educator.
Scott: It might not be. But it may be as well. Primarily, I’m looking for that management talent.