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 May 11, 2017 at 6:00 pm for the following purposes:

• To elect 10 Directors to serve until the next Annual Meeting of members to be held in May 2018, 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: Trista Berkovitz, Sylvia Wong, Sheila Dowell, Merrill Randol, Gregory Potts, Kalim Winata, plus four 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
May 11, 2017

The members of the Nominating Committee for the year 2016-2017 are Chair Nazneen Spliedt, Jeanne Dorward, Linda Lei, Sherlyn Leong, and Adrienne Burton.

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: Edward Baer, Etsuko Kobata, Myoung-Ja Lee Kwon, Howard Moreland.

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: Trista Berkovitz, Sylvia Wong.

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: Melissa Abbe, Margaret Edwards, Vince Fausone, Maureen Hetzel, Anne Kahn, Jennifer Kao, Kristl Lee, Sherlyn Leong, David Menke, Pamela Royse, Peter Sinton, Ehler Spliedt, Nazneen Spliedt, Lucy Sun, Kasey Yang, Carolyn Young.

The following previously elected Directors are retiring from the Board of Directors: B.J. Johnson, Linda Lei, Julie Nemeth, Barbara Wirth.
The following ex-officio Directors will continue to serve: Forrest McGill and 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.

Edward Baer is a former Board Member and Treasurer of SAA and is serving on the Finance and Travel Committees. He is a Museum Story-teller and has been active with the museum and the SAA for many years.

Etsuko Kobata is a docent from the class of 2014 and a fluent Japanese speaker, with an interest and knowledge of Asian Art.
She is serving on two SAA committees, helping to organize Member Events and Upper Category Events. She also has broad experience and background in the software industry.

Myoung-ja Lee Kwon is a Museum docent from the class of 2014 and has an M.A. in History and a degree in Library Science. She has worked with various university libraries. She is interested in bringing new ideas to SAA’s many programs.

Howard Moreland is a retired chemical engineer who spent part of his working life in Thailand, Japan, Korea, and China. He appreciates the unique cultures, and found the SAA and the AAM a natural way to continue his love of Asia. Since retiring to San Francisco, he has been active in the Museum and the Society and looks forward to deepening his connection to the Society.


The Society broadened its activities this last year by addressing members’ interest in programs on contemporary art and programs tied to events in the Bay Area relating to Asian culture. Examples include the Fall 2016 Arts of Asia series on Asian art from the 19th century to the present and a series of programs complementing the world premiere of an opera version of the celebrated novel, Dream of the Red Chamber.

As always, scholarly programs provided by the Society were creative, diverse, and of the highest quality. Examples include:

Summer: A lecture on Chinese monochrome wares, a demonstration of Kunqu Chinese opera, and a study group on Japanese costumes and textiles

Fall: A Ramayana-related literature series on the ten incarnations of Vishnu, a fun-filled trip to Portland, a program demonstrating the Ramayana through dance, and a symposium on the Ramayana which we co-sponsored with the Museum

Winter/Spring: Special lectures by AAM Director Jay Xu on the Han Dynasty and Deputy Director Rob Mintz on Japanese lacquers, a Spring 2017 Arts of Asia series examining women’s roles in Asian art, a literature series on ghosts and vixens in Chinese and Korean literature, and a study group exploring snuff bottles with famous Bay Area collectors

And finally, there were programs where members could socialize, including a gourmet dinner and lecture on Japanese bronzes at Orientations in Monterey, the treasure-packed Souk, the Holiday party at Tansu Design, the Spring Dinner at Lai Hong Lounge, SAA “conversations” held with scholars and collectors in private homes, and a recent visit to Filoli Garden.

In short, it has been another successful year, and enormous thanks are due to the committees who organized these programs and provided critical functions such as Membership, Finance, Advisors, etc., and to our SAA Office Manager who kept the organization running smoothly!

Best regards,

Anne Kahn


Educational Programs

Arts of Asia
The well-received Fall 2016 Arts of Asia lecture series “From Monet to Ai Weiwei: How We Got Here” broke new ground by focusing on modern and contemporary Asian arts. The 15 lectures by scholars from universities and museums in North America introduced and interplayed global art development from mid-19th century modernism to contemporary movements across Asia.

The popular Spring 2017 lecture series “Women, Real and Imagined, in Asian Art” put women on a pedestal. Fifteen renowned scholars and museum curators spotlighted prominent ancient and contemporary Asian women leaders, patrons, and artists of various disciplines as well as illuminated the cultural and artistic impact of female deities and spirits in Asia and beyond. Committee co-chairs were Jennifer Kao and Kristl Lee, with Peter Sinton also serving on the Committee.

Study Group
The Study Group Committee organized two workshops for the 2016-2017 year. The winter workshop focused on Chinese snuff bottles and was given by Vincent Fausone, Wesley Kirkholm, and Raymond Lum. Participants were given an in-depth view of the history of snuff bottles, the making of snuff bottles, and their important connection to Chinese art. Richard Fabian gave the spring study group on how to read a Chinese painting. Sylvia Wong and Carolyn Young are co-chairs, with members Annie Dorsey, Margaret Edwards, and Greg Potts.

Literature and Culture of Asia
The Literature and Culture Committee developed two literature-based courses. In the Fall, we welcomed back Professors Robert and Sally Goldman from UC Berkeley, who led a six-week course titled “Gods on Earth: Ten Incarnations of Vishnu”.  As Vishnu and his ten earthly incarnations/avatars are some of the most colorful, dramatic, and popular elements of Hinduism, the class was filled to the maximum.

This spring, Stephen Roddy, USF, guided us through the literature of amorous encounters between humans and fox spirits, ghosts, and fairies. In four sessions of “Boundless Love: Ghosts and Vixens in Chinese and Korean Literature”, we read fiction of the Chinese Tang and Song Dynasties, and the Korean Joseon Dynasty. Members of the Committee are Judy Fraschella, Vince Fausone, Jennifer Kao, Melanie Reamy, Pamela Royse and Sherlyn Leong, Chair.

This committee arranges symposia in consultation with the museum Education Department and curators. Functions typically include contacting speakers, arranging travel and lodging, coordinating with the museum to reserve Samsung Hall and arrange for food, handling registration, designing and distributing flyers, processing requisitions, and tracking revenues and expenses. Members of the Committee include Chair Peter Sinton, Vince Fausone, and Ehler Spliedt.

In November, the Society helped the museum put on a successful symposium on the Rama Epic in conjunction with the exhibition Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe. The museum staff did most of the work, but SAA committee chair Peter Sinton was emcee and SAA Board members Vince Fausone, Ehler Spliedt, and Nazneen Spliedt worked on the day of the event. There was no budget allocated for the symposium, although SAA committed to pay up to $2,500 if expenses exceeded revenues by that amount or more.

Events for Members

Member Events
The Member Events Committee was chaired by Nazneen Spliedt, with members Annie Dorsey, Jennifer Kao, Phyllis Kempner, Etsuko Kobata, Kristl Lee, Julie Nemeth, Ehler Spliedt, Graeme Vanderstoel, Barbara Wirth, and Sylvia Wong. During the past year, the Committee organized two events each month, on average.  There were eleven scholarly talks and lectures, six gallery and artist studio visits, a special evening with Stan Lai the Director of the Dream of the Red Chamber opera, and various social events. The Holiday Party was held at Tansu Design and the Spring Dinner at Lai Hong Lounge. We also spent a weekend in Monterey with dinner and a talk at the Orientations gallery. Finally, the Committee also organized the speaker and reception for the 2016 Annual Meeting. Karin Oen, Curator of Contemporary Art, spoke about the SAA’s newly-unveiled gift for the Museum's 50th anniversary, Collected Letters.

All events were well-attended and either broke even financially or made a small surplus. The Committee strove to organize events on a wide variety of subjects and to schedule them at times to attract more people. Most of the speakers were scholars and/or artists from the Bay Area, as well as curators and SAA Advisors.

Upper Category Member Events
In 2016-2107, four Conversations were held, featuring Therese Bartholomew, Ming Tiampo, Phillip Lutgendorf, and Munis Faruqui. The events were well-attended and generated much discussion. The autumn Sponsors event was a tour of the Wang Tiande Chinese ink painting show, at Nanhai Art Gallery in San Mateo. 2017 opened with a visit to the studio of artist Stella Zhang led by Abby Chen of the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, and continued the contemporary woman artist theme with a Conversation with Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker. Textile and ceramics collector Glenn Vinson hosted the spring Sponsors event at his home. Melissa Abbe is Committee Chair, with members Rick Beleson, Sheila Dowell, Etsuko Kobata, Sherlyn Leong, Peggy Mathers, Ehler Spliedt, Lucy Sun, Kasey Yang, and Kalim Winata. 

The Travel Committee is chaired by Greg Potts, with members Ed Baer, Neaera Baer, Trista Berkovitz, Megs Booker, Kalpana Desai, Sheila Dowell, Marsha Vargas Handley, Mary Hunt, Anne Kahn, Phyllis Kempner, Bianca Larson, Linda Lei, David Menke, Merrill Randol, Teri Sandison, and Gail Uilkema. The Travel Committee organizes domestic and international trips with the goal of designing travel experiences that are both educational and affordable for SAA members. In October 2016, sixteen SAA travelers enjoyed the Oregon fall colors while visiting the Portland Museum of Art and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. We also opened registration for our July 2017 Texas trip and for two exciting international trips: India in fall 2017 and Vietnam and Laos in winter 2018.

The SAA Souk was held the weekend of October 29 and 30, 2016 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. SAA members and others donated thousands of Asian and Asian-related antiques and collectibles, which were for sale during the weekend. The goal of the sale was to maximize revenue to benefit the Asian Art Museum via the SAA’s many events and programs. The sale earned over $19,000, net of expenses. Approximately 50 volunteers assisted before and during the weekend. The Committee Chair was Trista Berkovitz, and members included Maureen Hetzel, Mel Hetzel, Stephen Pegors, Greg Potts, and Peter Sinton.

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
There are two issues of Lotus Leaves this year. The first, published in November 2016, had a lead article, The Art of Liu Jianhua: Phenomenal Phenomenology, by Karin G. Oen. The second article was The Diversity of the Rama Epic, by Sohini Pillai. The Spring 2017 issue has a lead article by Benjamin W. Porter on an archeological site in the Middle East. The second article by Dany Chan is Flower Power, focusing on the exhibit by that name that will be installed in June. Alice Trinkl is Editor and Margaret Edwards is Associate Editor.

The Publicity Committee’s goal is to promote awareness of the SAA and its programs and events. In 2016-2017, the Committee focused on announcing and selling programs such as the Arts of Asia lecture series, the Souk at Fort Mason, and the Book Sale. In addition to announcements through the SAA newsletter and website, the Committee worked with the Asian Art Museum to have SAA activities listed on its website, calendar, and social media sites. The Museum’s A Magazine also regularly includes a page devoted to SAA activities including the Arts of Asia lecture series, SAA travel programs, special activities such as the Book Sale and the Souk, and the SAA's special commission of Collected Letters by Liu Jianhua to honor the Asian's 50th anniversary. Peter Sinton chairs the committee, which also includes Kristl Lee.

Library/Book Sale
The exciting news this year is that the library card catalog went live online. It can be reached through the Asian Art Museum website by anyone, anywhere in the world. The SAA gave important seed money for this project and helped guide the process. We also continued our support of the Museum library with a monthly donation of $1,500 dollars, for a total of $18,000 dollars this year. Ehler Spliedt organized the annual book sale held in the loggia of the Museum, which netted over $8,200. The Library Committee is chaired by David Menke.

The SAA Website Committee's primary goal is to continually improve the user experience. This year we succeeded in making the website more mobile responsive so that members can now view the site via Apple IOS, Android and/or other major platforms. We also worked with the Lotus Leaves Committee to facilitate the upcoming switchover to online publication, and are currently working on menu changes to improve archive retrieval of Arts of Asia lectures. The Website Committee is chaired by Kalim Winata and Kasey Yang.

Development and Outreach

Our membership remains steady with 543 households belonging to the Society, representing about 850 individuals. We continue to recruit new members to replace those not renewing due to relocation or other life events. Our largest category of membership remains our Senior group (44% of memberships up from 41% last year). Contributing, Donor, and Sponsor memberships are 38% of our total, accounting for more than two-thirds of our membership income. We regularly plan outreach mailings to Museum members to ensure their awareness of SAA and our activities. Committee members are Maureen Hetzel, Chair, and B.J. Johnson.

The Advisors Committee recruits, monitors, and supports the Advisors Council, which currently consists of 30 members serving two-year terms. The advisors are primarily academicians who are experts in fields such as Asian art history, history and culture, literature, and contemporary art. This year the SAA Board voted to add two new advisors, professors Stephen Roddy and John Zarobell. In 2016-2017, SAA advisors participated in literature classes, upper category conversations, member events, and Lotus Leaves. We updated our record of the advisors’ expertise and SAA activities. Our big event was the annual thank you lunch for advisors in April. Merrill Randol chairs the Committee, which includes Melissa Abbe, Jeanne Dorward, Judy Fraschella, Maureen Hetzel, and Mel Hetzel.


The Finance Committee is chaired by Treasurer Vince Fausone and includes Assistant Treasurer Ehler Spliedt, Ed Baer, BJ Johnson, David Menke, Pamela Royse, and Nazneen Spliedt. The Committee meets regularly to review the financial status of the Society, and to ensure that provisions are made for the Society’s financial commitments. We meet quarterly with Keith Woodland of Morgan Stanley who has been the Society’s pro bono Financial advisor since 1999. Through past bequests SAA has an endowment that is conservatively invested to yield enough earnings to help offset operating expenses beyond those covered through membership fees and other sources. SAA also contributes to the Museum’s exhibits and fundraising campaigns.

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