Donor Profile: Dorothy Saxe

Since the early 1980s, Dorothy Saxe and her late husband, George, have been enthusiastic art collectors. Their comprehensive collection combines many different materials, compositions, and nationalities, but Dorothy holds a special place in her heart—and home—for glass.

Dorothy Saxe with Susie Silbert, curator of modern and contemporary glass.

“We are very lucky to live with all these treasures,” Dorothy said, having collected and supported artists such as Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, William Morris, Dale Chihuly, and Toots Zynsky among others, from a very early stage.

Originally from Michigan City, Indiana, on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, Dorothy was interested in art at a very early age and attended art history classes at nearby Northwestern University.

“This was lovely,” she recalls, “instead of looking at slides of masterworks, I could go into Chicago to the Art Institute and see all the masterworks in person!”

After moving west to California, Dorothy had her first encounter with The Corning Museum of Glass through the exhibition catalog for the landmark 1979 show, New Glass. The Saxes soon became acquainted with William Warmus, the Museum’s then-curator of modern glass, and learned about the Glass Art Society (GAS). This connection inspired their first trip to Corning for the annual GAS conference in 1984. Meeting and befriending Tom Buechner, founding director of the Museum, helped seal a lasting bond between the Saxes and the Museum.

Upon visiting Corning for the first time, their love for glass quickly grew.

“Early on we were intriqued by the quality of glass itself, the translucence and transparency,” she remembers. “But in recent years we found ourselves collecting more sculptural glass.” Over the years, Dorothy has witnessed the many cultural shifts and artistic transformations that have shaped the glass world—just as the Museum has exhibited through its various New Glass exhibitions and New Glass Review publications. Given her love of contemporary glass, Dorothy provided generous support to this year’s New Glass Now exhibition. She is thrilled to be part of the Museum’s 60-year commitment to furthering the field of contemporary glass.

New Glass Now at The Corning Museum of Glass

New Glass Now and the changes I’ve made to New Glass Review are inspired, in large part, by Dorothy’s story of how she and George came to collect glass. They saw the catalog for the 1979 New Glass show and it opened a world of possibility,” says New Glass Now curator Susie J. Silbert. “I want my projects to ignite that same kind of joy to spark that same potential in new generations of collectors. Dorothy and her late husband George’s commitment to fostering the field of contemporary glass is unwavering and totally impressive. It is hard to imagine the field of contemporary glass without her.”

A lifelong “professional volunteer,” Dorothy remains heavily involved with arts organizations, boards, and committees. Dorothy and George founded both the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (1984), where she remains a trustee, and the Art Alliance of Contemporary Glass (1986). Dorothy has also served on the board at Pilchuck Glass School for over 30 years.

“It’s a very exciting time now,” says Dorothy of contemporary glass in 2019. “There is so much being done with glass—so many young artists are using it inventively and in such different ways.”

Dorothy hopes to return to the Museum this summer to explore New Glass Now and be inspired once more by the very best in glass today.

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