Annual Report



Notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of members of the Society for Asian Art will be held in Samsung Hall, Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street, on April 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm for the following purposes:

• To elect 13 Directors to serve until the next Annual Meeting of members to be held in May 2019, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
• To transact such other business as properly may be brought before the meeting or any adjournment or postponement thereof.

The Nominating Committee submitted the names of the following nominees for re-election as Directors: Margaret Edwards, Pamela Royse, Ehler Spliedt, Kasey Yang, plus nine new members for election.

The names of additional nominees may be submitted to the Board of Directors for review not less than twenty (20) days prior to the meeting. The petitions shall be signed by not less than twenty (20) members in good standing and shall contain the information required by Section 3 of Article IX of the Bylaws. Each member in good standing is entitled to one vote on each matter considered at the meeting. No proxy voting is permitted. All voting is conducted in person.

By order of the Board of Directors,

Trista Berkovitz

April 19, 2018

The members of the Nominating Committee for the year 2017-2018 are Chair Nazneen Spliedt, Linda Lei, Sherlyn Leong, Bob Oaks, and Gregory Potts.

The following Members of the Society for Asian Art desire to serve as Directors and are nominated for election to serve their first two-year term of office: Aggie Brenneman, Margaret Booker, Marsha Vargas Handley, Phyllis Kempner, Barbara Levinson, Lawrence Mock, John Nelson, Henny Tanudjaja, Diane Weber.

The following Directors of the Society for Asian Art will complete their first two-year term and are nominated for election to serve a second two-year term: Margaret Edwards, Pamela Royse, Ehler Spliedt, Kasey Yang.

The following Directors of the Society for Asian Art will complete their second two-year term and are nominated for election to serve a third two-year term: Sheila Dowell, Gregory Potts, Merrill Randol, Kalim Winata.

Directors with one year remaining on their two-year terms: Ed Baer, Trista Berkovitz, Anne Kahn, Sheila Dowell, Etsuko Kobata, Myoung-ja Kwon, Howard Moreland, Greg Potts, Merrill Randol, Kalim Winata, Sylvia Wong.

The following previously elected Directors are retiring from the Board of Directors: Melissa Abbe, Maureen Hetzel, Vince Fausone, Jennifer Kao, Kristl Lee, Sherlyn Leong, David Menke, Peter Sinton, Nazneen Spliedt, Lucy Sun, Alice Trinkl, Carolyn Young.

The following ex-officio Directors will continue to serve: Forrest McGill, Deborah Clearwaters.

New Nominees:
The Nominating Committee recommends the following members for a first two-year term to the Board of Directors of the Society for Asian Art.

Aggie Brenneman is a Docent and Community Speaker of the Docent Council, is on the SACHI Board, and is an active participant in SAA events. She is also a trained Bharata Natyam dancer and founder of a dance school.

Margaret Booker (Megs) is a member of the SAA's Travel Committee and is a professional theatre artist, with vast experience in the theatre arts. She is a docent and interested in expanding her travel horizons.

Marsha Vargas Handley is a specialist in Asian art and antiques and former owner of Xanadu Gallery in San Francisco. She served as president of the International Netsuke Society, is a licensed appraiser, and is currently on the SAA Travel Committee.

Phyllis Kempner was a past President of the Society and a clinical psychologist. She has been active on the Member Events and Travel Committees and collects modern Japanese ceramics and art.

Barbara Levinson is a docent and previously served on the Docent Council Board as well as on the SAA Board, where she ran the Arts of Asia program.

Lawrence (Larry) Mock is a docent and an architect by training and active on various Docent Council committees as well as active in local organizations promoting architectural and design programs.

John Nelson was a computer programmer/manager in the banking industry and a Vietnamese language translator for the U.S. Army. He is a lifelong student of Chinese history and has been active in helping at the SAA Souk and the Book Sales.

Henny Tanudjaja is a docent and active Society member and has a banking and finance background. She has served on the peer review committee of the Docent Council and has good organizational skills and resourcefulness.

Diane Weber is a docent and was Chair of the Docent Council finance committee. She is an attorney by profession and worked in the San Francisco City Attorney's office. She is interested in helping with the SAA's ongoing educational programs.


The Society was literally “on the move” this year due to anticipated construction (aka the “Museum Transformation”). Following major storage and culling efforts, the Society office was moved to a 4th floor cubicle in mid-December where it is expected to remain until construction is completed in 2019. In addition, the Spring Arts of Asia lecture series (aptly titled “Art on the Move”) was relocated to UC Hastings to avoid construction noise.

Despite the construction related disruption, the Society continued to provide outstanding scholarly programs. Examples are as follows:

Summer: Member Events’ lectures (covering a Thai king’s cremation rites and the arts of cloisonné & champlevé) plus a curator’s walkthrough of an Indian painting exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum

Fall: The Fall Arts of Asia lecture series (Part I) “Art on the Move” exploring the exchange of Asian art and culture across continents,  a literature series examining the famous Persian “Shanameh” epic, a trip to Northern India focusing on sacred landscapes, a curator-led tour at Mills College of an exhibition of Korean-American artists in the Bay Area, a brush painting study group, and on-line publication of the fall issue of Lotus Leaves

Winter/Spring: The Spring Arts of Asia series (Part II) “Art on the Move”, a literature series on historic Mongol texts, Member Events’ lectures (covering the “Divine Bodies”’ exhibit, Laotian temples, the Ramayana in relief and Jainism) plus an upcoming trip to Philadelphia and a study group on Taoism

In addition to the programs cited above, the Society hosted numerous events where its members could socialize, such as the Holiday Party at the Zentner Collection, the Spring Dinner at Dragon Beaux, and a variety of SAA “conversations” held with scholars and collectors in private homes.

As always, many thanks to the committees who organized these programs as well as to the support groups (Membership, Finance, Website, Publicity, etc.) who kept the Society running smoothly.

Best regards,

Anne Kahn



Arts of Asia
The Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 Arts of Asia lecture series “Art on the Move Across Asia and Beyond – Part I and Part II” explored how art and culture transformed, diversified, and flourished as the result of exchanges since antiquity between East and West, North and South, over land and sea, in Asia and beyond.

In the Fall 2017 series (Part I), fourteen renowned scholars spotlighted the impact of trade across Asia during antiquity, early Buddhist exchanges, and East Asia during the period of the great medieval empires. Due to the pending construction at the AAM, the Spring 2018 series was moved from Samsung Hall in the AAM to the UC Hastings College of the Law campus, across the street from the museum. The fourteen talks in the Spring 2018 series (Part II) are focusing on exchanges within and beyond South, Southeast, and West Asia, as well as later Buddhist exchanges, Asian art in the West, and Western art in Asia.

To date, the move to the new venue has been smooth and uneventful. As with Part I, the Part II talks, have been well-attended and well-received to-date, with many positive comments. Committee members were Co-chair Jennifer Kao, Co-chair Kristl Lee, and Peter Sinton.

Study Group
The Study Group Committee organized a successful Chinese brush painting workshop in Fall 2017 given by Yu Chun Hui. The committee is planning four exciting events for the 2018 calendar year. In April, there will be a study group on Taoism given by Robert Ashmore from UC Berkeley. In August, Toru Sugita will educate us on Japanese woodblock printmaking. In Fall 2018, we are planning an Islamic study group. In addition, there will be a study group by John Wallace on the history of tea. Committee members were Margaret Edwards, Vince Fausone, Barbara Levinson, Greg Potts, Pamela Royse, Carolyn Young, and Sylvia Wong, Chair.

Literature and Culture of Asia
The Literature and Culture Committee sponsored two literature-based courses this past year. In Fall 2017, Mitra Ara, San Francisco State University, led three sessions on “The Epic of Nations: Shahnameh, the Chronicle of Kings”. The course covered the stories and cultural and historical aspects of this epic 50,000 verse poem, composed by the Persian Poet, Ferdowsi over a thousand years ago, using illustrated paintings from many different manuscripts.

This spring, we are introducing Brian Baumann, who teaches courses on Mongolian language, history, and culture at UC Berkeley. The five-session course “By the Power of Eternal Heaven: The Mongols Changing View of the Blue Sky Above” is a study of the history of the Mongol rulers from Chinggis Kahn to the 20th century, and how the Mongols saw themselves as destined by heaven to rule the world. Committee members were Judy Fraschella, Jennifer Kao, Melanie Reamy, Pamela Royse, and Sherlyn Leong, Chair. 
This committee arranges symposia at the museum in consultation with the museum Education Department and curators. Functions typically include contacting speakers (outlining their duties and SAA responsibilities), helping arrange travel and lodging, coordinating with the museum to reserve Samsung Hall and arrange for food, handling registration, designing and distributing flyers, handling requisitions, and tracking revenues and expenses. Members of the committee were Chair Peter Sinton, Vince Fausone, and Ehler Spliedt.

There were no symposia this fiscal year.


Member Events
The Member Events’ Committee was chaired by Nazneen Spliedt. Members of the committee were Annie Dorsey, Phyllis Kempner, Myoung-ja Kwon, Ehler Spliedt, Graeme Vanderstoel, Barbara Wirth, Sylvia Wong, Etsuko Kobata, and Aggie Brenneman.

During the past year the committee organized an average of two events each month. There were twelve scholarly talks/lectures and six gallery or museum visits, usually followed by lunch. Other social events were also organized, including the Annual Holiday party held at the Zentner Collection in Emeryville with a sit-down dinner and the Spring Dinner at the Lai Hong Lounge. The committee has also organized the reception for the SAA Annual Meeting, with a special 60th anniversary program on the history and progress of the SAA.

All events made a small surplus or broke even. Most of the event speakers were scholars and/or visiting professionals from around the Bay Area, as well as Curators and Advisors. To attract more people to our events, the committee strove to organize a wide-variety of subjects and to schedule them at times to attract more people. Saturday afternoon events were well-attended and attracted drop-ins.

The committee faced many challenges this year with booking space in the museum due to many AAM education activities and other events. We foresee this challenge continuing into the coming year due to the AAM’s construction program, which may impact the number of Member Events activities. We will strive to keep the number of events up by scheduling more events outside the museum.

Upper Category Member Events
The committee organized multiple Conversations with scholars in 2017-2018. Fall Conversations with Denise Patry Leidy, Helen Evans, and Lewis Lancaster were all in San Francisco and well-attended. Winter 2018 kicked off with Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom in Atherton. February found us in San Francisco with Stacey Sloboda, and April’s Conversation with Amy Poster will be in Oakland. The fall Sponsor Event was a visit to a private collection in San Francisco. June’s Sponsor Event will be a studio visit with Fifth Moon Group artist Fong Chong Ray guided by Abby Chen of the Chinese Cultural Foundation of San Francisco.

The committee is continuing to look for new venues for future Conversations. The committee would like to thank Rick Beleson for his generous assistance and the gracious hosts and hostesses, without whom these events would not be possible. The committee was co-chaired by Melissa Abbe and Etsuko Kobata, with members Sheila Dowell, Sherlyn Leong, Ehler Spliedt, Lucy Sun, and Kasey Yang. In addition, the committee welcomed new committee members Chris Ahn and Myoung-ja Kwon. 

The Travel Committee was chaired by Greg Potts, with members Ed Baer, Neaera Baer, Trista Berkovitz, Megs Booker, Kalpana Desai, Sheila Dowell, Margaret Edwards, Marsha Vargas Handley, Mary Hunt, Anne Kahn, Phyllis Kempner, Bianca Larson, Linda Lei, David Menke, Teri Sandison, and Gail Uilkema. The Travel Committee plans domestic and international trips with the goal of designing travel experiences that are both educational and affordable. In 2017-2018, two domestic trips and two international trips were organized. Domestically, SAA members traveled to San Antonio and Houston in July and will head to Philadelphia in May. Internationally, members journeyed to India in September and will go to Iran in April.

Publications and Public Relations

This committee publishes the SAA Newsletter six times per year to publicize SAA events and programs. The online version on the SAA website is in color. The printed version is mailed to other art institutions and to members who prefer to receive the paper copy. Both versions support registration for the SAA activities included in the newsletter. Trista Berkovitz is the Editor, and Margaret Edwards is Co-Editor.

Lotus Leaves
During this fiscal year, there will be two issues of Lotus Leaves. The Fall 2017 issue featured Precious Trinkets: Chinese Snuff Bottles by Vincent Fausone, and Seeds of Culture: Indian Botany and Medicine in Pre-Modern Europe by Annamma Spudich. The Spring 2018 issue will feature articles by Jeffrey Durham and John Zarobell. Margaret Edwards was the Editor, having taken over from Alice Trinkl, who was Editor starting in 2012.

The goal of the Publicity Committee is to promote awareness of the SAA and its programs and events. During 2017-2018, the committee focused on announcing and selling SAA programs such as the Arts of Asia Friday lecture series, and the March Book Sale. In addition to announcements through the SAA newsletter and website, the committee worked closely with the Asian Art Museum to have SAA activities listed on its website, calendar, and social media sites. The AAM’s A Magazine regularly includes a page devoted to SAA activities including the Arts of Asia lecture series and speakers, SAA travel programs, and special activities such as the annual Book Sale and occasional Souk. The Publicity Committee was chaired by Peter Sinton and included Kristl Lee.

Library/Book Sale
The Library Committee was chaired by David Menke. Ehler Spliedt, assisted by a group of volunteers, organized the annual SAA Book Sale.
The SAA continued its support of the AAM Library with a monthly donation of $1,500, for a total of $18,000 for the year. This money helps buy new books and subscriptions to a wide variety of periodicals. In addition, the committee organized two tours of the library for Board members. John Stuckey, AAM librarian, hosted the tours and has greatly increased access to the library and its holdings. The electronic card catalog is up and working.
The 2018 Book Sale will take place in the Loggia of the AAM on April 6. It is expected to net over $7,000.

The Website Committee worked closely with the Lotus Leaves Committee and our web master to successfully put SAA’s flagship publication, Lotus Leaves, online. Beginning with the Fall 2017 issue, SAA members can access Lotus Leaves anytime anywhere through the SAA website, download the articles, and search for keywords. We are excited about this critical enhancement to SAA’s website. The committee’s goal is to reach a wider audience through the website and Lotus Leaves.

In addition, as part of our on-going effort to improve the user experience, the committee streamlined the website's menu structure, and as a result, access to important archives such as program and study guides of the Arts of Asia lecture series. The Website Committee plans to continue working on user interface enhancements in the coming year. Kasey Yang chaired the committee.


Our membership fell about 3% this year with 518 households belonging to the SAA, representing about 850 individuals. This year the loss of many long-term members saddened us. We continue to recruit new members to replace those not renewing due to relocation or other life events. The largest category of membership remains the Senior group (45% of memberships, up from 44% last year). Contributing, Donor, and Sponsor memberships are 38% of the total, accounting for 74% of membership income. Committee members were Maureen Hetzel, Chair, and Howard Moreland.

This year the Advisors Committee has had a unique year because of the planned building of the AAM’s new extension. Due to the new extension, our major event, the annual Advisors Lunch, had to be cancelled due to the potential unavailability of the Peterson Room and other factors. During the year, the committee continued its other activities including the task of updating the Advisor spreadsheet which lists the names, contact information, current academic position, research, and assistance given to the SAA. In addition, the committee recommended three new candidates to the SAA Board. The potential advisors’ areas of interest and expertise will add to our stellar group of advisors. Merrill Randol chaired the committee, which included Melissa Abbe, Jeanne Dorward, Judy Fraschella, Maureen Hetzel, Mel Hetzel, and Pamela Royse.


The Finance Committee met regularly throughout the year to review the SAA’s financial status and ensure there were sufficient liquid assets to meet SAA commitments. The committee met quarterly with Keith Woodland of Morgan Stanley, SAA Investment Advisor, to review the investment profile and ensure that it represented a secure, yet profitable investment portfolio.

One of the committee’s most important tasks was in proposing a yearly budget, which was developed with the input of the committee chairs. The committee also participated on the Executive Committee and provided input to the Executive Committee and the Board regarding the monthly financial statements. The Finance Committee was chaired by Treasurer Ed Baer and included Assistant Treasurer Vince Fausone, David Menke, Stephen Pegors, Ehler Spliedt, Nazneen Spliedt, and Kasey Yang. 

Bylaws and Operating Procedures
The committee updated and drafted new SAA Operating Procedures, Bylaws, and Policies as needed. Trista Berkovitz chaired the committee; the members were Maureen Hetzel, Linda Lei, and Nazneen Spliedt.