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Janet and Malcolm Gross being honored for years of dedication to Baum School

Janet and Malcolm Gross have been longtime benefactors of The Baum School Of Art.

At the annual Baum School of Art Fall Gala, Oct. 19, Janet and Malcolm Gross will be honored for their support of the Baum School and the arts.

This year, the Gala is at the Barristers Club, Allentown, beginning at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 with a cocktail hour.

There will be a performance by singer-songwriter and chanteuse Phoebe Legere.

Kacper Abolik, whose exhibition, “Year of the Dog,” concludes Oct. 18 in the Baum’s David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries, will create a work of art at the Gala.

There will be a silent auction of gift certificates, items and experiences from around the Lehigh Valley.

Dinner, provided by Catering by Karen Hunter, begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, Attire is black-tie optional.

Gold Level sponsors of the Gala include City Center Allentown and J.B. and Kathleen Reilly and Gross McGinley, LLC.

The Baum School of Art Fall Gala annually recognizes community members who have made significant contributions to the Baum School’s history of enriching lives through arts education.

Janet and Malcolm Gross are being honored for their service, compassion, philanthropy and support for the arts in Allentown, particularly for The Baum School. They’ve sponsored numerous exhibitions, programs, events and activities at the Baum School.

Malcolm J. Gross, an Allentown native, graduated from Allentown Central Catholic High School, Class of 1958. He received a BA in History from Muhlenberg College in 1962 and a Juris Doctor from Villanova Law School in 1965. He clerked for one year for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael J. Eagen.

“I don’t think I practiced law more than a block away from the Baum School all those years since,’ says Malcolm Gross, adding, “I’ve had an enjoyable career practicing in all phases of law since then.”

He’s a partner at Gross McGinley LLP and frequently writes and lectures on the law. He gives talks about history at Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum. In 2000, Lehigh County Court named him a Trexler Trustee and to a second 10-year term in 2010.

Malcolm Gross is the son of Allentown Mayor John T. Gross (1959-1964) and grandson of Allentown Mayor Malcolm W. Gross (1920-1932, 1936-1940). Malcolm W. Gross backed Walter Emerson Baum’s efforts to establish the Baum School.

Janet Gross, a native of Paterson, N.J., who received a BA in mathematics in 1977 and an MS in information technology, is retired. She’s president of the Baum School of Art Board of Trustees, where she’s been on the board since 2005.

In a recent interview, Janet and Malcolm Gross talked about their backing of the Baum School and of the Allentown and Lehigh Valley arts scene.

Says Janet, “For me, it [the Baum School] was the first board on which I served. It’s their commitment to the downtown Allentown. They’ve been there a long time. They give out a number of scholarships to students who need them.

“It has a real family feel to it. You go to the Baum School and it’s like family. I’ve had my grandchildren take classes there. They go above and beyond for their students there.”

Says Malcolm: “This is really an award that belongs to Janet. She has worked long and hard for this school, both on the board and as volunteer.

“My family and I are great admirers of the school. My grandfather, Malcolm W., was given a painting by Walter Baum back in the 1930s, when he was mayor, which the family has treasured ever since and that we own and love today.

“It’s a beautiful winter scene of the Allentown parks, which Baum often painted and which were a major project of my grandfather’s.”

Janet and Malcolm have seen expansion at the Baum School during their involvement.

Says Janet, “When I first became involved in the Baum School, I remember going to the annual auctions. I remember it being held in the Motor Ramp [a parking deck along Linden Street, Allentown]. And then, of course, they tore the Motor Ramp down and built the Arts Park.

“Another big change for the school has been the change in leadership, from Walter Baum, who passed it into the capable hands of Rudy Ackerman. And then Rudy’s wife, Rose, became much more involved with the school. And then along with Rose, was Rose and Rudy’s daughter Ann Lalik.

“And a big change in leadership has been the transition from the Ackerman family to Shannon Fugate, who has been there nine years [as executive director].” Fugate observes her 10th anniversary as Baum executive director in March 2020.

Says Malcolm, “I think the arts scene has come a long way. That way has been paved in large part by organizations like the Baum School, which is a real jewel, not just for Allentown but for the whole region.

“Trexler [Foundation] has been proud and pleased to support Baum and the other arts organizations, which we believe have been key to the Lehigh Valley’s cultural scene.”

Says Janet, “With the cutbacks in school arts departments, the Baum School has been able to provide, with the support of grants, art classes for the students of Allentown.

“I think there’s a good deal of research that supports STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math approach to education], and incorporating the arts. For many students, art is a pathway to success. There’s certainly a mathematical component to composing paintings and art.”

Adds Malcolm, “I get a constant stream of favorable comments from students and former students as to what a profound effect art has on their lives.”

Of the Baum School accolade, Janet says, “It’s a great honor. We are truly honored.“

Baum School of Art Gala information: baumschool.org; 610-433-0032

“Good Cause” is a column about galas and fundraisers. If you have an item for “Good Cause,” or would like to request having your event covered, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERAtty. Malcolm J. Gross and his wife, Janet Gross, to be honored at Baum School of Art 2019 Fall Gala at Barrister's Club, Allentown. Copyright - &Copy; Ed Courrier