MATO

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

build­ing, un­til the Four Arts con­verted the space in 2017 into of­fices. “That’s why I was able to work all those hours, be­cause I was up­stairs,” she said.

Former Four Arts board Chair­woman Edith Dixon will be sad to see Mato go.

“She’s been a trea­sure,” she said. “I don’t know of any­one who could do the kind of job she’s done.”

Not many peo­ple have such a range of ex­per­tise or such ex­cel­lent taste, said former Pres­i­dent Ervin Dug­gan, who in his 14 years with the Four Arts cap­tained the great­est ex­pan­sion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s his­tory. “Nancy was the artis­tic heart and soul of the Four Arts all her time there,” he said. “The pro­grams re­flected her taste and per­son­al­ity.”

Mato has a gift for pick­ing high-qual­ity pro­grams that ap­peal to vastly dif­fer­ent au­di­ences, said board mem­ber Joseph Flanagan, who heads the mu­sic com­mit­tee.

Mato is as mod­est as she is tal­ented, said board mem­ber Shel­ley Gubel­mann, who worked with her on the film com­mit­tee, but no pushover. “She’s qui­etly and mod­estly strong,” Gubel­mann said.

Leav­ing her mark

Mato will miss the Four Arts. “This place has been like fam­ily,” she said. “It’s the most un­usual or­ga­ni­za­tion.” When she ar­rived in June 1986, it was a far more in­su­lar and smaller in­sti­tu­tion. In the 1985-86 sea­son the or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fered three ex­hi­bi­tions, 12 lec­tures, five con­certs, 12 films and three pro­grams for young peo­ple. This sea­son, it hosted more than 400 cul­tural events.

Among the pro­grams added un­der Mato’s watch are the Sun­day af­ter­noon con­certs and the “Met Opera: Live in HD,” “Bol­shoi Bal­let,” “Na­tional Theatre in Lon­don” and “Ex­hi­bi­tion on Screen HD” se­ries.

One of her fa­vorite tasks is in­stalling art, for which she won much praise from len­ders and vis­i­tors alike.

For 1997’s “Mingei: Japanese Folk Art From the Mont­gomery Col­lec­tion,” Mato de­signed a stage with a Japanese gate and fire pit and lined it with tatami mats to cre­ate an au­then­tic set­ting to dis­play kitchen uten­sils from the col­lec­tion.

For a 2006 ex­hi­bi­tion of res­i­dent Bill Koch’s mar­itime art — one of three shows fea­tur­ing works from his col­lec­tions — Mato ar­ranged for Amer­ica3, the dark-horse win­ner of the 1992 Amer­ica’s Cup, to be in­stalled on the lawn. The 2012 ex­hi­bi­tion of Koch’s west­ern art holds the at­ten­dance record, at 35,529.

Items from Koch’s col­lec­tions have been ex­hib­ited at mu­se­ums rang­ing from the Mu­seum of Fine Arts in Bos­ton to the Lou­vre, but “I will tell you that the eas­i­est per­son I’ve worked with is Nancy Mato,” he said. “She is fan­tas­tic.”

Mato over­saw the ac­qui­si­tion and in­stal­la­tion of works for the Philip Huli­tar Sculp­ture Gar­den, in­clud­ing what might be its most pho­tographed at­trac­tion, Lawrence Holofcener’s Al­lies — a bronze bench with just enough room for vis­i­tors to squeeze in be­tween the seated fig­ures of Franklin Roo­sevelt and Win­ston Churchill.

“Nancy knew the artist and ar­ranged for it to come here,” said Susie El­son, who led the art ac­qui­si­tion com­mit­tee un­til she be­came board chair­woman in 2017. “He was ex­cited to have it here.” When the artist wanted to sell the sculp­ture, he sold it to the Four Arts for a rea­son­able price in­stead of putting it up for auc­tion, El­son said.

Fi­nal ex­hi­bi­tions

Mato, 77, re­duced her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in 2016, when Phillip Bergmann took over pro­gram­ming the film and mu­sic se­ries.

She held on to the ex­hi­bi­tions “be­cause I wanted very much to do the Is­abelle de Borch­grave ex­hi­bi­tion that I’ve been work­ing on for three years,” she said.

This sea­son’s "Is­abelle de Borch­grave: Fash­ion­ing Art From Pa­per" and "A Man for All Sea­sons: The Art of Win­ston Churchill" have been among the Four Arts’ most pop­u­lar shows.

Once Mato retires, she plans to spend more time in na­ture and maybe re­sume mak­ing art, a pas­time she gave up for her job. “I’m sad, but I’m a tiny bit ex­cited about spread­ing my wings a bit and hav­ing all that time,” she said. “It’s go­ing to be a dis­cov­ery for me.”

The Four Arts will an­nounce her suc­ces­sor soon, said Katie Edwards, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and de­vel­op­ment.

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