Dr. Susan Weber, founder and director of Bard Graduate Center, has announced the recipients of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Iris Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the Decorative Arts.

This year’s honorees are Dr. Stephen K. Scher, Outstanding Patron; David Revere McFadden, Outstanding Lifetime Achievement; Sanchita Balachandran, Outstanding Mid-Career Scholar; and Cristina Grajales, Outstanding Dealer. The awards will be presented at a luncheon in New York City on April 1, 2020.

Past Iris Award recipients include many of the most influential patrons, scholars, and dealers in the field of decorative arts. Patrons such as John C. Waddell, Sir Paul Ruddock, Jayne Wrightsman, Lord Rothschild, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Richard Jenrette, and Iris Cantor have received the award for their visionary support of museums, galleries, and educational institutions. Among the distinguished scholars who have been honored are Harold Koda, Paola Antonelli, Barry Bergdoll, Morrison H. Heckscher, Dame Rosalind J. Savill, and Finbarr Barry Flood. Outstanding dealer honorees include Adrian Sassoon, Deedee Wigmore, Eric Shrubsole, Martin Levy, Michele Beiny-Harkins, and Benoist F. Drut. In 2008, Philippe de Montebello, retired director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, received a special award for his contributions to the artistic life in this country. To make a reservation, call 212-501-3038, email support@bgc.bard.edu, or purchase tickets here.

2020 Honorees

Dr. Stephen K. Scher — Outstanding Patron
An avid contributor to the art world, Dr. Steven K. Scher has lectured and published extensively on medieval and Renaissance art. He taught in the Brown University art department from 1961 to 1974, and was president and chief executive officer of Scher Chemicals, Inc. until his retirement in 2004. He has organized exhibitions at The Frick Collection, the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), and the National Galleries of Scotland. Dr. Scher also assembled a significant collection of commemorative portrait medals, the bulk of which was donated to The Frick in 2017. He currently serves as a member of visiting committees at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection and associate trustee of the Yale Library. For his service, Dr. Scher received the Yale Medal (2015) and the British Art Medal Society’s President’s Medal (2018).

David Revere McFadden — Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
David Revere McFadden is chief curator emeritus at the Museum of Arts and Design. Before his retirement, he was curator of decorative arts and assistant director for collections and research at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum from 1978 to 1995. In his distinguished career, McFadden has organized over 150 exhibitions on decorative arts, design, and craft, including Hair (1980), Scandinavian Modern 1880-1980 (1982), Wine: Celebration and Ceremony (1985), and Slash: Paper Under the Knife (2009). For his work in cultural affairs, he has been named Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland (1984); Knight Commander of the Order of the Polar Star of Sweden (1988); and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France (1989). McFadden has received the Presidential Design Award for Excellence three times (1994, 1995, 1997).

Sanchita Balachandran — Outstanding Mid-Career Scholar
Sanchita Balachandran is associate director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and senior lecturer in the department of Near Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University. Trained as an objects conservator specializing in archaeological materials, she uncovers traces of past peoples and cultural practices on objects. For a recent exhibition, Who Am I? Remembering the Dead through Facial Reconstruction (2018), Balachandran collaborated with specialists to reconstruct the faces of two ancient Egyptian women. She teaches courses on the technical study of ancient objects and the history and ethics of museum conservation. Balachandran is a fellow of the American Institute for Conservation and founder and director of Untold Stories, a non-profit organization that represents and preserves a fuller spectrum of human cultural heritage in art conversation.

Cristina Grajales – Outstanding Dealer
Hailed as one of the most respected experts in the design field, Cristina Grajales founded her eponymous gallery in New York in 2001. She previously served as director of 1950 Gallery from 1990 to 2000, where she developed the gallery into a premiere source for mid-century design.

Cristina Grajales Gallery is one of the forerunners in the design world, specializing in contemporary and twentieth-century design and the cultivation of emerging designers. With over thirty years of experience, Grajales has served as an advisor to a number of collectors, assisting them in building valuable collections. In 2001, she founded the lecture series “Dialogues with Design Legends” at the 92nd Street Y. Grajales is a frequent guest lecturer, panelist, and contributor to various publications, and maintains a full program of exhibitions at international art and design fairs.

About the Awards

The Iris Foundation Awards were created in 1997 to recognize scholars, patrons, and professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the study and appreciation of the decorative arts and thereby help to sustain the cultural heritage of our world. The Awards are named for Bard Graduate Center Founder and Director Susan Weber’s mother, Iris Weber. Proceeds from the luncheon fund graduate student scholarships and fellowships.