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Announcing the Art Transforms Award 2017

June 3, 2017 Accolades No Comments Email Email

“We believe that art transforms lives, and this is why Dennis Scholl has been selected by the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU as our honoree for the Art Transforms award,” said the museum’s Director, Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, at the recent Benefactor Impact event.

Dennis Scholl and Jordana Pomeroy

“His passion for the arts and philanthropy serve as an inspiration for our museum benefactors, and for the community.” As an alumnus of Florida International University (class of ’77), Scholl’s first experience ever inside a museum was at the original location on campus 40 years ago when he was a young student at FIU – the year the museum was founded.

Phillip & Patricia Frost, Dennis & Debra Scholl, Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, and Daniel Perron, the Museum’s Board Chair

“Since then, the Frost Art Museum FIU has served as a cultural beacon for four decades, bringing new cultural experiences to generations of art lovers, students, patrons and visitors from all over the world,” adds Pomeroy.  The art museum’s patrons, Patricia & Phillip Frost, joined Dr. Pomeroy in honoring Dennis Scholl alongside Dr. Kenneth Furton (FIU’s Provost), and Daniel Perron (the museum’s Board Chair).

The Scholls invited guests on a personal tour of the exhibition Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia drawn from their own collection, which will continue its national tour after headlining at the Frost Art Museum FIU.

The Grand Galleries of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU hosted the exhibition from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl —  Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia


Award-Winning Filmmaker and Champion of the Arts

Honoree Dennis Scholl spoke passionately at the event about how as a young student at Florida International University in 1977 (the same year the museum was founded), his life was transformed after feeling compelled to walk into the campus museum that day. Since then, Scholl and his wife Debra have become nationally renowned champions of the arts.

They are recognized for their support of art and artists, and are holders of the largest private collection of Aboriginal art in the United States.

In addition to his longtime collecting of contemporary art, Scholl is a founder of Betts & Scholl, which he created with well known Master Sommelier Richard Betts. The Betts & Scholl wines from Australia, France and Napa received over twenty five scores of 90 or better from Wine Spectator including a score of 95 for their Barossa Valley Black Betty Shiraz (the company was acquired by a public company in 2009). Scholl has recently returned to Australia to create a new wine – Mother Tongue Shiraz.

Winemaker Dennis Scholl at the vineyards in Australia

The new wine that Scholl created, Mother Tongue Shiraz, is crafted from 82 year old vines from the continent’s leading wine region, the Barossa Valley, the wine is aged in French oak for twenty months. The first vintage (2014) has just been released in the United States.

The label art for the new wine is by world renowned Aboriginal Australian contemporary artist Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri and reflects his ancestral home of Lake Mackay in the central desert of Western Australia.  The wine is available from

Dennis Scholl recently stepped down from his leadership position at the $2.5 billion Knight Foundation, where he oversaw funding of close to $200 million to arts organizations across America. He created Random Acts of Culture, and with his team at the foundation developed and led the Knight Arts Challenge.

Watch the Emmy-winning video about the documentary Random Acts of Culture here

Scholl is a ten-time regional Emmy winner for his cultural documentaries, including films about Tracey Emin, Theaster Gates, Wynton Marsalis and Frank Gehry. He is a producer, writer, and director whose second feature documentary, Queen of Thursdays, co-written and produced with noted Cuban filmmaker Orlando Rojas, was named Best Documentary at the 2016 Miami International Film Festival. Scholl is also known for Deep City — The Birth of the Miami Sound (2014) and the animated short, The Sun as a Big Dark Animal, an official selection of the 2015 Sundance International Film Festival. Scholl’s newest film is calledSymphony in D and is currently on the film festival circuit, showing at various cities.

Scholl has served on the boards and executive committees of Aspen Art Museum, MOCA Miami, the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Linda Pace Foundation. He was named three times to the annual WESTAF list of the Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts, and along with his wife, Debra, recently received the National Service in the Arts Award from the Anderson Ranch Art Center.

The Scholls are highly regarded for their efforts to build the permanent collections of contemporary art museums and are founding chairs of the Guggenheim Photography Committee, the Tate American Acquisition Committee, and an acquisition committee for the new Pérez Art Museum Miami where they have donated 300 works from their personal collection.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University

Scholl is also co-founder of the award-winning wine projects Betts and Scholl and Mother Tongue Shiraz, and was a visiting scholar at MIT Media Lab and a Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow.

This year’s Art Transforms Benefactor Impact event at the Frost Art Museum FIU drew Miami’s leading arts patrons and cultural leaders, including: Joan Johnson, Jonathan and Karen Fryd,celebrity chef Michael Schwartz and his wife Tamara Repsold Schwartz, Lisa and Gary Payton, Amy and Richard Kohan, Fred Snitzer, Ed Christin, Lourdes Tudela, Karen Escalera, Ellen Salpeter, Lorie Mertes and Alex Gartenfeld.

Dennis Scholl with FIU Provost, Dr. Kenneth Furton

Guests joined Debra and Dennis Scholl on exclusive tours of the museum’s collection vault.  The event was sponsored by EWM Realty International, Bacardi and Rumbas Party Rental & Events. More photos from the event may be seen at this photo gallery link, and more images from the award ceremony continue below  . . .

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