Warren and Margot Coville

As light flows through the expansive windows of Warren and Margot Coville’s Sarasota home, it gently caresses beautiful glass art pieces and softly illuminates a large painting by Ringling College of Art and Design’s late faculty member, Leslie Lerner. The story of the Coville’s friendship with Ringling College began with that painting and with a special request from the artist. When Lerner asked if they might be willing to help a student attend Ringling’s study abroad program in France, they were happy to consider his request. In addition to their passion for the arts, the Covilles like to support young artists. They gladly said yes.

“We love knowing the artists whose work we’ve collected,” says Warren. Leslie Lerner was no exception. From Lerner, they began to learn about Ringling College. 

The visual arts were an integral part of Warren and Margot Coville’s lives long before they came to know Ringling College. Warren was a professional photographer and is the retired president of Guardian Photo, a division of Guardian Industries Corp, which was one of the largest photo processing companies in the world. In the 1970s, he began collecting photographs by renowned artists, eventually creating one of the finest private collections in the world. Warren served on the boards of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Together, the Covilles collect glass art, a favorite medium of Margot’s. 

Over time, Warren and Margot came to know more about Ringling College and became valued members of the Ringling community, supporting the College’s annual scholarship fundraiser and Selby Gallery exhibitions.

When the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA, a division of Ringling College, asked them to join the effort to create a museum dedicated to exhibiting modern and contemporary art, Warren and Margot, with their typical, quiet generosity, said yes once again. “We felt there was a need for a contemporary art museum in Sarasota. Contributing to SMOA was a natural,” says Warren.

“These are two wonderful people and I admire their commitment to philanthropy,” says Wendy G. Surkis president of SMOA. “We are grateful for their contribution and that they share our vision for the future of modern and contemporary art in Sarasota.”

“We always make our donations so that they will have a direct impact on something or someone,” says Warren. Through their generosity to SMOA and to Ringling College, the Covilles have done just that.


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