Brock Jobe: 2014 Award of Merit Recipient

Brock Jobe, professor of American decorative arts, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Brock Jobe, professor of American decorative arts, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, Winterthur

On Saturday, April 26, the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America, Inc., honored Brock Jobe as the 2014 ADA Award of Merit recipient. Brock is the fourteenth recipient of the prestigious award, which recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of American art and decorative arts and the business of buying and selling antiques.

Brock has quite an impressive career. A native of Virginia, he studied at Wake Forest University and then the University of Delaware, where he earned a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture in 1975. It was his work with Winterthur instructor Benno Forman, his mentor, that would lead Brock’s career and research to focus on objects made and used in New England.

“To a large degree, working with Benno on my thesis topic, Boston furniture made between 1725 and 1760, was the beginning of all that followed. I found my niche.”  

—Brock Jobe (Antiques and the Arts Weekly, April 1, 2014)

Brock Jobe (far right) with (from the left) Albert Sack, Gib Vincent, Richard Nylander, and Jayne Stokes, in the parlor of the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston, mid-1980s

Brock Jobe (far right) with (from the left) Albert Sack, Gib Vincent, Richard Nylander, and Jayne Stokes, in the parlor of the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston, mid-1980s

After finishing his graduate work at Winterthur, Brock started his career at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, assisting in planning the first major conference and related publication on Boston furniture. After Boston, his fascination with furniture would lead him to positions at Colonial Williamsburg, as the curator of exhibition buildings, and Historic New England (formerly Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities or SPNEA), where he was chief curator.

In 1993, Brock returned to Winterthur as the deputy director for collections and interpretation. In 2000, he moved into his current role as professor of decorative arts in the Winterthur Program, a role that suits him quite perfectly. His students and colleagues alike admire his work and enthusiastic attitude.

ADA President Judith Livingston Loto, also a former Winterthur student, notes, “Brock is a detective at heart. He seeks answers to the never-ending questions about American decorative arts—particularly furniture. His mind is constantly connecting the threads of research that he has gathered over the years with actual objects, and then weaving them into something more fully realized. He treats students, scholars and collectors with equality—they too are seekers of knowledge. His smile and open enthusiasm have inspired hundreds of people to love antiques as passionately as he does.”

“In essence, Brock is an advocate. The word “advocate” doesn’t always get its due justice: perhaps the words supporter, champion or even crusader would be more evocative. But what I mean to describe by the word “advocate” is an individual who works tirelessly for a cause or a group. In Brock’s case, that cause is the development and furthering of the field he loves so much—decorative arts and material culture; and that group is, first and foremost, all those who learn from and with him.” — Louisa Brouwer, WPAMC class of 2011, Israel Sack, Inc., Archives Fellow American Decorative Arts, Yale University Art Gallery

“Brock Jobe has the unique distinction of being both an expert in the field of American decorative arts and material culture, as well as an accomplished and gifted educator. Brock’s attention is always squarely focused on the student’s learning experience, and he goes out of his way to assure that students enjoy a hands-on, field-based approach to study of the past. His teaching played a vital role in my and my classmates’ educational experience at Winterthur.” — Alexander Ames, WPAMC Class of 2014

“Indeed, at no time have I ever known Brock Jobe to be too busy, too engulfed, or too self-absorbed to stop everything and advise a student, a colleague, a collector or a friend. It is just part of the cheerful countenance that makes Brock, Brock. He counts among his devoted fans dealers, auctioneers, collectors, curators, conservators all of whom admire his gentlemanly demeanor, generosity of spirit and unbridled enthusiasm for the decorative arts.” — Tom Savage, Director of Museum Affairs, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Furniture Day at Massachusetts State House, September 17, 2013. Jobe and Fuller Craft Museum Director Jonathan Fairbanks (right) were in the Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture project

Furniture Day at Massachusetts State House, September 17, 2013. Jobe and Fuller Craft Museum Director Jonathan Fairbanks (right) were in the Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture project

Brock’s accomplishments and contributions in the world of American decorative arts are endless. He has published many articles and written publications including Portsmouth Furniture: Masterworks from the New Hampshire Seacoast; Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710–1850; and New England Furniture: The Colonial Era with Myrna Kaye. Brock has also organized exhibitions including Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710–1850; A Lasting Legacy: Sixty Years of Winterthur Graduate Programs; and most recently Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, a collaborative effort among 11 institutions, which continues to roll out exhibitions, symposiums, lecture programs, digital resources, and website entries.

From left, Steve Fletcher, Gary Sullivan, and Jobe examine a table at a work­shop at Skinner Auctioneers.

From left, Steve Fletcher, Gary Sullivan, and Jobe examine a table at a work­shop at Skinner Auctioneers

Brock is often heard saying “I live and breathe furniture” and is at home crawling under a piece to study the details of its construction and history. During Brock’s tenure as a professor at Winterthur, he has had the fortune of reaching and inspiring countless people, he notes. “The program attracts unbelievably talented people. They will be running museums and galleries and will leave their mark. It’s what keeps me excited and hopeful.”

On May 10, at Historic New England, Brock will deliver “Discovering Boston Furniture” with Sarah Parks; the lecture is part of Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture. They will trace the history of furniture made in Boston and discuss their plans to identify and document as many pieces as they can find. For more information, please visit http://www.fourcenturies.org/ai1ec_event/discovering-boston-furniture/

Post compiled by Hilary Seitz, Marketing & Communications Department.

Resources: ADA: http://www.adadealers.com/html/awardofmerit.php, Antiques and the Arts Weekly: http://antiquesandthearts.com/news/2014/04/01/brock-w-jobe-ada-award-merit-winner-2014/204290#.U2J_hsZe88M, Magazine Antiques March/April 2014: http://www.themagazineantiques.com/news-opinion/current-and-coming/2014-04-25/ada-award-profile-brock-jobe/print/

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