In Memoriam: Marilyn K. Glick

Marilyn K. GlickMarilyn K. Glick's love of studio glass began in the 1980s and led her to form one of the nation's most notable collections of glass art. She stoked her passion by meeting artists, traveling to their studios, and steeping herself in the traditions of the medium. Many of her most notable pieces, from such innovative artists as Dominick Labino and Bertil Vallien, are on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Her devotion to the future of the art form is also on display at Ball State, where a 2008 gift of $5 million through the Glick Fund, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation established by Marilyn and Eugene Glick, helped establish The Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass. On March 23, 2012, Glick lost her long battle with cancer at the age of 90, passing away in her Indianapolis home. In the days after, she was memorialized as an accomplished businesswoman and one of the state’s most generous philanthropists.

Marilyn K. Glick at the facility groundbreaking ceremonyHer importance to the art world cannot be underestimated, though. Brent Cole, associate professor of glass, called Glick a visionary collector who loved sharing her enthusiasm. “She was in her late 80s when I first met her, and her eyes just lit up when she started talking about her collection,” he says. “Marilyn had such a passion for collecting, but it was more than that. Even more important to her than the pieces in her collection were the artists she had met and the relationships she had formed while she was assembling it. I think that really speaks to the kind of person she was—she was always interested in the artist, too.” She particularly liked the idea, Cole says, that the glass center bearing her name would help young artists learn their craft and help Ball State expand its art programs.

At the Center’s dedication in September 2010, Ball State President Emerita Jo Ann M. Gora noted that the facility’s significance far exceeds its 10,000 square feet of floor space. “That is relatively small as college and university buildings go, but I firmly believe that its potential for enhancing art programs at this university is enormous,” she says. The establishment of the Center, through the lead gift of the Glick Fund and a number of other significant donations, allowed Ball State to create a world-class program in the glass arts, offering both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. And, Gora pointed out, it also has brought the university broader national recognition in the arts world as well as new opportunities for community outreach in the form of exhibitions, workshops, and classes.

Marilyn K. Glick and Marianne Glick pose for a photo at the groundbreaking ceremonyThe Glick Center for Glass is just one example of the unstinting philanthropy that has distinguished Marilyn Glick and her husband, Eugene, over the years. Together, the couple founded the Gene B. Glick Co. in the 1940s and built it into a thriving real estate development company. Then, in 1982, they founded the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Family Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes across Indiana. Among its notable contributions: $30 million to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the Indiana University School of Medicine to help study and treat the causes of blindness and $15 million to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a bicycle and pedestrian path that connects a variety of the city’s neighborhoods, cultural districts, and arts amenities.

Generosity and devotion to the arts, clearly, are themes, that have run throughout the life and career of Marilyn Glick. Ball State noted as much when the university awarded her an honorary doctor of arts degree for her “leadership in establishing the arts as an important part of the quality of life for all Hoosiers.”

Mural of Marilyn K. Glick at the groundbreaking ceremonyThe degree, Gora said in a letter to Glick, recognized her “painstaking collection of stunning” glass artwork. It also celebrated the thousands of students who “discovered their creativity” at the Marilyn K. Glick School of Art, part of the Indianapolis Art Center and another example of the importance she attached to education.

Most of all, though, the degree honored Glick’s support of Ball State and the critical role it will play in the university’s future. Today, the Glick Center for Glass stands as a state-of-the-art facility for young artists—and a working memorial to Marilyn Glick’s passion for her beloved artwork and generous philanthropy to the causes she held most dear.