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E.A. Carmean, former director at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, dies at 74

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E.A. Carmean, Jr. a museum curator and director who served as director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for several years and had a second career in the church, died at his home in Washington D.C. on Oct. 12 from cancer.

Carmean, who was known throughout his life by his first two initials, was born on Jan. 25, 1945 in Springfield Illinois, the son of E.A. Carmean, Sr. a telephone executive and Helen Marker Carmean. He received a B.A. in Art History, Philosophy and Theology from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1967 and did graduate work at the University of Illinois from 1967 to1970. In 1983 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from MacMurray College. The recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, he taught art history at George Washington University; Rice University; the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota and the University of Illinois.

In 1971 he joined the Houston Museum of Fine Arts as a Curator of Twentieth Century Art working under director Philippe de Montebello, who would go on to head the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Among the exhibitions he organized and wrote the catalogs for was “The Collages of Robert Motherwell” (1972).

In 1974 he was hired by National Gallery of Art Director J. Carter Brown to serve as the museum’s Founding Curator of 20th Century Art. There he worked with patron and board president Paul Mellon, Brown and architect I.M. Pei to realize the Gallery’s plans for the East Building. This included commissioning major public works from modern masters Alexander Calder, Anthony Caro, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, and Robert Motherwell.

In 1984 he was appointed director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, where he, organized and wrote the catalog for “Helen Frankenthaler: A Paintings Retrospective” (1989).

Marla Price commented

“EA Carmean did a great deal to place this institution on the path to success and stability,” said Marla Price, current director at the Modern. “He made major acquisitions for the permanent collection and organized important exhibitions. Carmean oversaw the creation of the Museum’s first substantial endowment funds with the Burnett and Richardson Foundations.”

From 1992 to 1997 he served as director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tenn.

Responding to a call to the church, he attended Memphis Theological Seminary, later joining the clergy staff of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Germantown, Tennessee, with Rev. Gary Sturni (with whom he worked on a children’s book “Saint Guinefort”). In 2005 West Tennessee Episcopal Bishop Don Johnson made him Lay Canon for Art and Architecture in the Diocese with a license to preach.

He is survived by his wife Kathryn, an organization development practitioner and credentialed leadership coach with the Aerospace Corporation, their daughter Elizabeth Carmean Adams and her husband Wayne Adams, and two grandchildren Abigail and John Adams, of North Potomac, Maryland.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to: Christ Church Episcopal Georgetown (31st and O Streets, Washington, DC 20008).

Information for this story is from Carmean’s obituary and FWBP Staff

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