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A Life in Art: Claire Golden Honored by San Antonio Art League

golden 2The San Antonio Art League & Museum has given Claire Golden the this year’s Ethel T. Drought Founders Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. The award will be presented on Wednesday, May 15 at a cocktail reception at the Argyle from 5-7 p.m.

Mrs. Golden grew up in a house on E. Magnolia St. near St. Mary’s Street and attended Harding Black’s ceramics classes for children in a streetcar set up behind the Witte Museum, and later attended the University of Texas where she majored in violin. She played with the UT orchestra, the Austin Symphony, and was one of two violins in Fess Parker’s dance band, before Parker went on to fame as Davy Crockett in 1954. While at UT, Mrs. Golden was involved with the Paul Baker Theater and, when she had children of her own, became active in organizing children’s theater in San Antonio.

Her brother was Howard Nevelow who, after attending the Art Students League of New York, became the renowned visual director for Delman Shoes, whose flagship store was located within Bergdorf Goodman. “The window displays were always related to shoes,” explains Mrs. Golden, “but the shoes were secondary to the artistic whole.” Mrs. Golden has many of the pieces Nevelow created for Delman’s three main windows on Fifth Avenue, as well as a gift he received from Andy Warhol of his drawings for a children’s coloring book that now hang in her home. Nevelow’s work is featured in numerous publications, including The American Store Window and Fashion and Surrealism. When the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the Landmark Shoe Collection, Nevelow was invited to design the displays for the permanent installation.

Her husband, J. Y. Golden, was an art collector and a member of the board of the San Antonio Museum of Art. “He and Marion Oettinger had a great rapport,” says Mrs. Golden, referring to SAMA’s former director and current curator of Latin American Art. Mr. and Mrs. Golden travelled extensively throughout Latin America to bring back textiles, ethnic jewelry and art, and other handcrafted items for SAMA’s Latin American Art department’s annual fundraiser Bazar Sabado, which helped pay for speakers, exhibitions and important acquisitions.

For many years, Mrs. Golden has worked with the San Antonio Conservation Society, where she currently heads the committee of Properties Accession, Deaccession and Inventory. She meticulously restored a 1919 Alamo Heights home, the gardens of which were showcased in the first San Antonio Garden Conservancy Open Days tour in 2008. The gardens feature a series of cascading ponds engineered by San Antonio architect Don McDonald and faux bois concrete pieces by Carlos Cortés.

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