» The Phyllis & Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art

Art is an integral part of the educational process at Chapman University. We take pride in giving our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to spend their days at Chapman surrounded by beautiful and inspirational works of art as they learn, discover and grow. 

The Phyllis & Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art is not tucked away in a gallery or confined to just one building; it is spread throughout campus for all to enjoy - on tree-lined walkways, in courtyards, lobbies, offices and meeting places.  In this way, Chapman has become a museum without walls, a gallery spread throughout campus. 

We believe that enriching our campus with beautiful works of art results in a powerful cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration.  As Chapman continues to grow in both size and reputation, we strive to remain faithful to the foundations of a liberal education in which seemingly disparate disciplines – like the arts and sciences — are interconnected partners in the pursuit of learning and discovery. 

The Escalette Collection is truly a celebration of the interdisciplinary spirit of creativity and innovation that infuses everything we do at Chapman.

+ - About the Phyllis & Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art

In 2009 a generous gift from trustee Ross Escalette and his wife Phyllis to name the permanent art collection set in motion a new era for Chapman as a center for art in Orange County.  Because Ross and Phyllis established an endowment, the collection continues to grow, infusing Chapman’s campus with new expressions of color, form and vibrancy. 

Currently, the collection comprises more than 700 pieces. Though the collection does not necessarily have a specific theme or focus, there is a special emphasis on contemporary works of Southern California artists as well as African art, Russian iconography and prints by modern American and European masters such as Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Nauman. 

The Escalette Collection features a variety of media, such as drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media.  Works of art from the collection are regularly utilized for exhibition, classroom and research purposes.

+ - Mission Statement

The Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art will enhance and enrich the intellectual life of the campus and the Orange County community. The purpose of the collection is to advance the community’s understanding and appreciation of human creativity and imagination. Through studying and celebrating the art of our time the Permanent Art Collection seeks to educate students, alumni, faculty, and friends about the crucial role art and artists play in society. The Permanent Art Collection will promote art and its appreciation by acquiring, managing, and preserving a collection consisting of both traditional and contemporary artworks in various media.

+ - Meet the Escalettes

Ross and Phyllis EscaletteIn 1986, Phyllis and Ross Escalette, along with their three children, started Brasstech/Newport Brass, a plumbing products manufacturer based in Santa Ana.  By the time they sold it in 2001, the company had grown into a successful Orange County business with more than 500 employees. 

Ross joined Chapman University’s Board of Governors in the 1990s and served as chairman for two terms. During that time, the Escalettes became interested in the Chapman Art Collection, especially after meeting the Collection’s dynamic curator at that time, Maggi Owens. They were intrigued by the Collection’s accessibility to both the campus and local communities and its potential as an educational and cultural resource. In 2009, the Escalettes established an endowment for the Chapman Art Collection, which was renamed the Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art in honor of their generosity.  Funds generated by the Escalette Permanent Art Collection Endowment continue to support the operation and expansion of the collection.  

In an excerpt from their introduction to The Chapman University Collections, a book published during the university’s 150th anniversary year, Ross shared his and Phyllis’s reasons for their generous gift: “We like to give to organizations where we can see the funds being put to immediate and visible use. Chapman University and the Art Collection fill that requirement in every way.” 

Ross served on the Board of Trustees of Chapman University and was also a trustee at the Palm Springs Art Museum. After Ross passed away in 2013, followed by Phyllis at the end of 2014, their daughter, Suzanne, has continued to play an active role in the collection, seeing it as a continuation of her parents’ legacy.

+ - Meet Our Student Art Ambassadors

Student Art Ambassadors are Chapman University students who act as liaisons between the collection and the student body, host tours and workshops for groups large and small, attend all collection events, and promote the arts at Chapman.

This year, the program expanded to include three very talented students:

Student Art Ambassadors

Alex Allen (left) is an Art History major and Italian Studies minor ('16), Manon Wogahn (center) is an Art History major ('18), and Jessica Johnson (right) is a double major in Film Studies and Theatre Studies ('18).

+ - What is the Curatorial Department at Chapman?

The Curatorial Department manages artwork on campus, including its installation, research, storage, and care, as well as organizing exhibitions and community outreach, and overseeing the Student Art Ambassador program. The department also handles donations and loans of artwork within the scope of Chapman's collections.

We are always happy to help with your questions about the art collections!  

To contact the department, email collections@chapman.edu
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Kris Chatterson
Vapor, 2006
Acrylic on canvas
Hubert Schmalix
Sunset, 2010
Oil on linen
Patrick Wilson
Red Emperor, 2010
Acrylic on canvas