Oglethorpe alumnus Brad Firchow ’19 has always had a passion for art. At age 13, he began collecting it, mainly focusing on French and American impressionists. His love of art would eventually draw him to spend time in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art where he worked closely with Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford to further develop his love of collecting.
Now working as a health communications specialist for Eagle Global Scientific, he still looks back fondly on the time he spent in the university museum. It was his many fond memories of Oglethorpe and the people he met there that drove him to make his first donation to the museum in August 2020.
The piece, “Sketch of Male Figure in Two Poses” by American artist William Merritt Chase, was donated to the museum’s permanent collection in honor of esteemed Oglethorpe alumna, longtime trustee, and devoted philanthropist Belle Turner Lynch ’61. Firchow fondly recalls his time perusing the museum with Turner Lynch and “listening to her OU stories and indulging her trademark wit.”
“My hope with this gift is that it can honor Belle’s service to our community,” says Firchow, “Belle has been a force of nature in her philanthropic leadership, and I admire her ability to inspire the best in others. She is a champion of the liberal arts and a lifelong learner.”
Turner Lynch is a venerated member of the Oglethorpe community. Since her graduation 60 years ago, she has remained highly active in the development of the university. Her generous donations have funded several new buildings on campus, including her namesake, the Turner Lynch Campus Center. She also has served on the Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees for 35 years. In 2018, Turner Lynch was recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as one of its Distinguished Service Awards recipients.
William Merritt Chase was known for his hospitality and for his stories of global travel—“not unlike Belle,” says Firchow. In “Sketch of Male Figure in Two Poses,” Chase captures the fleeting expressions of a close friend, blending Impressionism with honest austerity, and is an example of Chase’s rare ability to quickly grasp the likeness of another. It was for these reasons that Firchow chose this piece.
“It reminds me of how little time it took Belle and I to strike up good conversation when we first met,” remembers Firchow.
Firchow’s donation to the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art can be seen among the other pieces of its permanent collection in a new virtual tour available on the museum’s website.