5 Parking Facility in Memory of J. Robert “Bob” Wilson

By Cindy Sloan

Jack and Joann Goldstein standing in arm with each other and smiling.
Jack and Joann Goldstein, 2006, KSU Photo Services
Barbara and Robert “Bob” Wilson standing together and clasping hands.
Barbara and Robert “Bob” Wilson, ca. 1970, family photograph

Great friends to the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, and to each other, Jack and Joann Goldstein and Barbara Wilson gifted the parking facility and pillars to the Beach Museum of Art when it was built. This gift was made in memory of Barbara’s husband, J. Robert “Bob” Wilson, who passed away in 1982.

Shortly after, in 1996, Barbara Wilson and Jack and Joann Goldstein (through their company Steel and Pipe Supply) gifted the museum a group of lithographs by renowned American printmakers Currier and Ives. These works were created in the second half of the nineteenth century and were displayed at the Beach Museum of Art in 1997.

Robert Wilson and Barbara King Wilson obtained their undergraduate degrees from Washburn University. Bob also received his law degree from Washburn. Bob and Barbara moved to Manhattan in 1947 after touring all 105 counties in Kansas to decide which would be the best fit for them. Luckily for Manhattan and Kansas State University, they chose Riley County. Once in Manhattan they purchased an abstract office and insurance business from Senator Samuel Charlson. The firm became known as Charlson and Wilson.

Barbara Wilson was a founding member of the Board of Visitors at the Beach Museum of Art and was a member of the museum’s Art Advisory Board. Barbara was a member of the Manhattan Library Board and helped found the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at Kansas State University. She was also the first woman to serve on the Kansas State University Foundation Board Executive Committee, serving as secretary. Barbara passed away in June of 2004.

Bob and Barbara established a tuition scholarship at Kansas State University and were founding members of the Landon Lecture Patrons. Bob served overseas as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army during World War II. Barbara joined him in Germany after the war where their appreciation for art started. Deepening their love of art was their friendship with Jack Goldstein.

Although Jack Goldstein passed away in July of 2010, his legacy lives on through his generosity and Joann’s continued philanthropy. The Goldsteins and their company, Steel and Pipe Supply, have made more than 600 gifts to 137 funds at Kansas State University. The Beach Museum of Art has been a recipient of multiple gifts. In addition, the Goldsteins have supported performing arts with numerous donations to McCain Auditorium.

Joann studied art at Kansas State University yet did not complete her degree. Her father thought that studying art was impractical, therefore, she switched majors. Joann regrets not graduating and even now ponders whether it is too late to return to K-State to continue her study of art and receive her degree. Joann sees her donations not only as support of the arts but as an investment in the community. “The arts are such a vital part of the community,” Joann says, “I can’t imagine what Manhattan would be without them.”

In 1996 the Goldsteins, along with Bebe and R. Crosby Kemper, commissioned another fantastic gift for the Beach Museum of Art — the Chihuly glass art chandelier. For the commission, world-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly, traveled to Manhattan. He met with Arthur Andersson, the architect of the Beach Museum of Art, to determine the best location for the chandelier. Chihuly also toured the local tallgrass prairies and viewed photographs of prairie burnings, which became a source of inspiration for the piece.

In its completed form, the chandelier weighs approximately sixteen hundred pounds and is composed of more than three hundred fiery orange, hand-blown glass pieces that echo the Kansas practice of prairie burning, which Chihuly found to be visually compelling. The subtle tail ends of each piece suggest heads of wheat referring to Kansas’s great crop. This true Kansas masterpiece can be seen day and night hanging in the atrium of the Beach Museum of Art.

The investments that the Goldsteins and Wilsons have made to the arts in Manhattan are appreciated now and will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at 25: People and Spaces by Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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