Hall of Fame catcher Ted L. Simmons and his wife, master printmaker Maryanne Ellison Simmons, have handed 833 contemporary artworks to the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM) in the city they’ve long called home, and where Ted played for more than a decade.
The collection focuses on art made since 1961 by a diverse group of more than 40 artists, mainly active in the United States. The trove is a partial gift, with the museum paying $2.3 million, half the value of the collection. Mostly prints, the gift also includes drawings, collages, photographs, and editioned sculptures.
Some of the standouts are Bruce Conner’s inkjet and acrylic Bombhead (2002), Helen Frankenthaler’s woodcut Savage Breeze (1974), Jasper Johns’s screenprint The Dutch Wives (1977), Kara Walker’s linocut Keys to the Coop (1997) and H.C. Westermann’s suite of woodcuts The Connecticut Ballroom (1976).
“Ted and Maryanne Simmons are passionate and thoughtful collectors, and their generosity has transformed the museum’s holdings of contemporary American prints,” SLAM’s director, Brent R. Benjamin, said in a statement.
The collection introduces a number of artists into the museum’s collection that were previously absent, such as Robert Gober, Liliana Porter, Paul Thek, and David Wojnarowicz. It strengthens the institution’s holdings in artists such as Bruce Conner, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Roger Shimomura, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.
Ted Simmons will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. A switch-hitting catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals for much of his career, he also played stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves. He was one of the best-hitting catchers in MLB history, and even hit for a higher batting average than Johnny Bench, a contemporary who was inducted in the Hall in 1989.
Maryanne Ellison Simmons is an artist, master printer, and publisher. She established Wildwood Press, which produces prints with artists, in 1996. The couple has lived in the St. Louis area for more than 50 years.