Saturday, June 3, 2023

Ukiah’s Grace Hudson Museum Dedicates a Courtyard to Evert Person, the Cultural Institution’s Largest Benefactor

Santa Rosa Philanthropist Norma Person at the sign at the Evert Person Courtyard at the Grace Hudson Museum [Photograph by Bob Anderson]

Gaye LeBaron, the noted North Coast history writer, recalled the time she sat down in a booth at the Palace Hotel restaurant with a group led by Barbara Eversole and listened to her plans for a museum to honor artist Grace Hudson.

Hudson’s reputation as a talented painter in the Western Art world was firmly established, and the fact that the proposed Ukiah museum would be one of the few honoring a woman artist in the U.S. was compelling.

“But I wondered when I left that lunch whether these good people understood the hard work and dedication it would take to make a museum happen,” said LeBaron.

 LeBaron in her role as the leading newspaper columnist on the North Coast supported the Eversole endeavor from the beginning, writing several columns about Hudson, her pioneer family’s history, and her unique approach to capturing the native Pomo culture. Eversole by 1985 had tapped into widespread community support and raised $1 million locally to build the Grace Hudson Museum adjacent to the historic Sun House, the craftsman-style residence Hudson and her husband, Dr. John Hudson, constructed in 1911. A Sonoma State University inventory of Hudson paintings, Pomo baskets, and family history artifacts would reveal a treasure trove.

LeBaron said she believes the Grace Hudson Museum has evolved after 36 years into “the most complete museum between San Francisco and Portland.”

LeBaron made her observations last week at a formal dedication of the Evert Person Courtyard at the Hudson museum.

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 “I enjoy visiting the museum. It is one of my happy places,” said the retired columnist for The Press Democrat.

LeBaron accompanied Sonoma County philanthropist Norma Person to a formal dedication on Thursday of the Evert Person Courtyard, named in honor of her husband the late newspaper publisher.

The Persons over time have become the single largest benefactors to the Hudson Museum.

Evert Person acquired artist Hudson’s first numbered oil painting, ‘National Thorn,’ and donated it to the museum where it is a centerpiece in the largest collection of Hudson paintings in the U.S. Later, the Persons contributed to the museum’s expansion, and underwrote the cost of the Person Gallery highlighting the family histories of Hudson and her husband. After Evert Person’s passing, Norma Person made a generous contribution to the courtyard/garden project in his honor.

Norma Person last week was personally thanked for her continuing contributions by Museum Director David Burton and Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo, and members of the Hudson Museum’s Endowment Board and the Sun House Guild. Ed Eversole, the grandson of Barbara Eversole, is the new chairman of the Endowment Board.

Also cited at the courtyard dedication was Mendocino Redwood Co. for donating high-quality redwood fencing material for a new fence that now encircles the Person Courtyard. Other contributors to the project included Ross Liberty and Factory Pipe, Nor Cal Powder Coating, Sebastopol architect Don Alameida, contractor Rick Cupples, and local landscape designer Vicki Sangiacomo. 

The courtyard dedication capped recent major events at the museum.

On Sept. 2, the museum’s newest exhibition ‘Gathering Time’ opened. It is the first exhibit at the museum to highlight contemporary Pomo art, including paintings, basketry, and regalia. The exhibit will run through Jan. 15.

The museum and the Sun House Guild staged the return of the annual onsite gala returned after a two-year absence because of the pandemic. It is the museum’s major fundraising event of the year.

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