By Lori Burke
As a college student, Virginia Logan ’81 encountered the rich connection between art and nature in a 19th-century gristmill in the Brandywine Valley. The Brandywine River Museum sparked her lifelong interest in the region and its influence on the area’s cultural heritage. Now, as the recently named executive director of Brandywine Conservancy, Logan hopes “to raise the conservancy’s profile.”
Last year, as the first initiative under her leadership, the organization opened the Chadds Ford, Pa., studio where Andrew Wyeth, one of the most significant American artists, painted many of his important works. The studio—a gift of the artist’s wife, Betsy James Wyeth—was restored by a team of specialized architects trained in historic preservation. Wyeth’s sons, Nicholas and Jamie, were advisers for the project.
In September 2012, Thomas Padon came on board as director of the Brandywine River Museum. With the expanded team, Logan is more fully exploring the connections between art and the environment with goals of increasing educational programming, continuing land preservation efforts, and growing the role it plays in working with municipalities and developers to further smart growth initiatives in the region.
An English graduate, Logan credits Lafayette with preparing her for this challenge. “Lafayette was a transformative experience for me,” she says. Diane Ahl, Rothkopf Professor of Art History; David Johnson, professor and head of English; and H. Ellis Finger, director of the Williams Center for the Arts, nurtured her love of the arts and helped her develop critical thinking and communications skills.
Logan stays connected to the College through serving on Lafayette Leadership Council and as a member of the Board of Trustees Committee on Development and Alumni Affairs.
The Brandywine River Museum holds special memories for Logan and her family. “The facility is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of art in the Brandywine tradition, with focus areas on American illustration, landscape painting, still life including trompe l’oeil, and much more,” says Logan. “I brought my children here from the time that they were quite young. They were initially captivated by Jamie Wyeth’s enormous Portrait of Pig and the pirates in N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and grew in their love of art through the broader collection.”
Carrying that love of the arts through his youth, Logan’s son, Will Rockafellow ’14, is one of Lafayette’s first Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) fellows. “I am delighted that the arts are expanding at Lafayette,” says Logan. “The CaPA program made the difference in his college choice.” Rockafellow collaborated with Jim Toia, director of the community-based teaching program, to arrange a tour for the CaPA fellows of Wyeth’s Studio and the Brandywine Museum during fall semester.
A resident of Rosemont, Pa., Logan earned a juris doctor from Villanova University School of Law and previously held leadership positions in Sunoco’s law department and marketing business. She also served as executive in charge of the company’s public affairs. She was chair of the board of directors of Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale for seven years.
Brandywine Conservancy was founded by a group of local residents in 1967 to preserve the historic valley from industrial development. It holds more than 440 conservation easements, protecting more than 45,000 acres in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Environmental Management Center supports reforestation initiatives and the Brandywine Creek Greenway project, a 30-mile green corridor stretching from the Delaware state line to Pennsylvania Highlands.