The Hart House community mourns the recent passing of Judi Schwartz, the founding curator and director of the Justina M Barnicke Gallery, 32-year Hart House employee, and passionate advocate for student participation in the visual arts.
Two years after her graduation from University of Toronto (class of 1972, BA, Innis College, Faculty of Arts & Science), Judi joined Hart House as a program advisor, working with the Film Board and Camera Club and supporting the work of the student-led Hart House Standing Committees, including the Art Committee. She would go on to become the founding curator and gallery director of the newly created Justina M Barnicke Gallery in 1983, a position should would hold until her retirement in 2006.
At Hart House, Judi became synonymous with the Hart House visual art collection and the students who appreciated and developed it. Though we now take it for granted that the Justina M Barnicke Gallery at Hart House is part of a top university gallery, this was not always the case. At multiple pivotal moments in the life of the Hart House Art Committee and the Justina M Barnicke Gallery—from the acquisition of the Bickersteth collection; the removal to the Art Gallery of Ontario and return of several Hart House masterworks; to the creation of the gallery itself in 1983; to name but a few—Judi was front and center, championing student involvement in the Hart House collection at every critical step in the road.
Over her long career at Hart House, Judi inspired and worked with hundreds upon hundreds of students to become more involved with art. She also stewarded many signature House-wide projects, including the commemorative book, A Strange Elation. Hart House: The First Eighty Years. She was also a long-time and active contributor to the Association of College Unions International. Since her retirement, Judi remained closely connected to the House, supporting the creation of the Audrey Hozack Student Leadership Award at Hart House.
Judi was deeply committed and passionate about student involvement in the visual arts. Hart House is deeply grateful and honored that through her estate, Judi will continue to support these values with the creation of the permanent Judi Schwartz Scholarship Fund at Hart House.