The Art Of Collecting: Ashby-Hodge Gallery Of American Art

The number of interesting and valuable paintings owned by people in Fayette is amazing. Even more so is the number of people willing to show those works at The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University.

The newest collection on display in the Ashby-Hodge Gallery belongs to Martha Holman and her late husband, Bill. Titled “The Art of Collecting,” the exhibition includes many pieces that Bill and Martha bought while traveling the world after they got married.

The reception for the show will be Saturday, May 6, from 1-4 p.m. in the Gallery at Classic Hall.  There is no charge and the public is encouraged to attend.

The Gallery will also be showing “4 x 17: 17 Artists, 68 Works from the Permanent Collection” in the other two galleries.

Bill Holman and Martha Rogers both graduated from Central College in 1947 but went in different directions until they met again in 1985. They married in 1986 and blended their family of eight adult children.

Bill joined the U.S. Air Force during World War II and spent many years in the service. He received his master’s degree in nuclear physics and was assigned as nuclear supervisor on the first Air Force Thermonuclear Weapon assembly team. Later he was assigned a safety console with Launch Control Headquarters at Cape Kennedy for the launch of Apollo 11, the first moon landing. He was pleased to recount in later years that he sent a piece of equipment to stay on the moon. It was inscribed with “C” that stood for Callao, his home town; Carole, his daughter; and Central College, his alma mater.

Bill also was part of the team instrumental in developing the first artificial heart, which became known as the Jarvik heart. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as a Lieutenant Colonel and went to work for the Department of Energy until 1979.

Martha followed her own path through the years. At Central she could be heard tickling the keys of the piano in Swinney Conservatory. She was also a member of the A Cappella Choir and was the drum major for the Central Marching Band. She belonged to Pi Kappa Theta social sorority and Phi Beta Fraternity for the Creative and Performing Arts, later serving as the alumna adviser for Tau Chapter. In addition, she belonged to the writing group for women, Scrawlers (later Scribblers and Scrawlers).

Unlikely as it seems, Martha was not a music major. She majored in mathematics, received the Demaree Prize as the highest academic student as a freshman, was recognized Who’s Who Among College Students, and graduated cum laude.

After graduation she taught math and foreign languages. She moved to California to teach and there married her first husband, whom Bill kindly drove to the wedding. She also lived in Texas and Kansas as well as Missouri.

When she remet and married Bill, after both had divorced, the two traveled extensively, to visit family and just for fun. In their travels, they had a penchant for picking up artwork. They also had talented artists in their family, on both sides.

The Holman Collection presents a broad spectrum of artists’ work, dating back into the 1800s and up to current times. Artists on display include Selhorst, Peake, Calder, Miro, Captain, and Cocteau.

Prominently noted are a drawing by Edouard Manet of his brother’s wife, titled “Portrait of Berthe Morisot”; “El Cid,” a lithograph by Salvador Dali; “Hands Clasped, Fingers Touching Lips,” an etching by Henri Matisse; “De Dire Fandue,” an etching by Rembrandt; “Home Port,” an etching by actor Lionel Barrymore; an untitled piece by John Michael Holman, Bill’s son; and an untitled piece by Sarah Rogers Borg, Martha’s sister.

The Holmans spent their last decades in Fayette, supporting to great extent Central Methodist University, especially in sports, community theatre, local organizations, and The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art. They also sponsored three Hall of Sponsors Scholarships.

For more information on The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, contact Curator Denise Haskamp at or Registrar of the Gallery Dr. Joe Geist at, or call 660-248-6304.

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