Huntington Library

Matthew Lee

Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from Kristine Franco, a member of San Marino High School’s counseling staff, senior Matthew Lee was named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for February.
And for good reason. Lee has a glittering dossier, topped by his recent acknowledgement as a National Merit Finalist, thus remaining in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.
The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew is also the engineering president of Titanium Robotics team at SMHS and captain of the school’s math and science teams.
For the past year, Lee has also operated a group called TitanHacks, where he manages sponsorships and event planning for a what are called “hackathons,” where programmers team up to create original projects. With the leftover funds, TitanHacks operates a weekly food drive with the First Baptist Church of Alhambra.

Photo courtesy Compost Culture
Sophomores Gianna Karkafi, Elizabeth Bercaw and Maddy Gregg are helping to bring a compost collection program to San Marino.

A group of San Marino students hope to propagate a successful startup service project from neighboring South Pasadena and offer composting service to San Marino residents.
The volunteers have joined onto Compost Culture, a projected started last year by two South Pasadena High School students to offer compost collection service to their city’s residents and businesses. Fresh off the success of winning the competition sponsored by the organization that funded them, the two SPHS students plan to branch out into their neighboring communities.
San Marino was first on the list.
“I was reading about it on their website and I thought it was really cool what they were doing,” explained Gianna Karkafi, a sophomore and cabinet member of the Green Club at San

Photo courtesy the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington President Karen Lawrence addresses donors at the dedication of the Chinese Garden, which was recently renovated and expanded. The Huntington’s Botanical Gardens are open for scheduled visits.

After rounding out the Centennial celebration at the Huntington Library in 2020 — a momentous year for the museum amid cascading, calamitous events beyond its walls — President Karen Lawrence has renewed veneration for historical narratives and their diverse, ongoing interpretations and revisions.
This, she said, is how the Huntington will remain vibrant and relevant for centuries to come.
And perhaps, in another 100 years, the recent pandemic, historic marches for racial and social justice, and unprecedented political turmoil will also be explored as interdisciplinary displays at the world-renowned institution, much as it presented the “Nineteen Nineteen” exhibition, an exploration of the tumultuous year the museum was founded.

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
Olivia Lee displays her owl boxes and a check from the Rotary Club of San Marino, which provided financial assistance for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

The Huntington Library is home to some of the most instantly familiar attractions on the planet, but you will be hard-pressed to even locate Olivia Lee’s contribution to the property. In fact, it’s doubtful one can even legally enter the grounds where the San Marino Girl Scout’s handiwork can be found.
Regardless, the addition is welcomed by officials at the famed institution. Lee is about to install 30 owl boxes on the hallowed grounds of the Huntington, though there will be no exhibit tags to explain their significance.

Photos by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
Ann Blomstrom, Mae Powell, Jean Lester and Muffy Hunt stand beside the 731-pound pumpkin that Powell grew and donated to the Huntington Library for placement at the children’s garden at the famed institution.

Fulfilling a promise to share her good fortune with the young people of the community, Mae Powell sent two of her prized pumpkins to the Huntington Library to be displayed in front of the Children’s Garden and help kindle the Halloween spirit.
The 101-year-old Powell, who has been growing giant pumpkins for a little more than a decade at her home on Gainsborough Drive, enjoys splitting the bounty with the Huntington, which is more than happy to accept the fruit. Powell’s biggest pumpkin tipped the scales at a whopping 731 pounds, considerably more than her target of 500 pounds.
Longtime friends Ann Blomstrom, Muffy Hunt and Jean Lester were in attendance last week when Powell transferred the pumpkins to Jim Folsom, the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington.
“She is such a generous person and I admire that she wants to share with the Huntington,” Folsom said.

The 731-pound gourd was the largest ever grown by San Marino’s Powell, who is 101 and a relative newcomer to the pumpkin-growing game.

Jim Folsom announced that he will retire from the Huntington Library on Dec. 31.

The word “retirement” was not on the mind or lips of Jim Folsom. Instead, he chose another word that suggests transition.
“I’m finally graduating,” said the typically ebullient Folsom. “I have been at this school of learning for 36 years, and I don’t know what I will do when I grow up.”
Folsom will have three more months to consider that challenge before he steps away from his current role as the Marge and Sherm Telleen/Marion and Earle Jorgensen director of the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library on Dec. 31.
“I will turn back into a pumpkin,” Folsom said, referencing a recent community project he has undertaken alongside San Marino’s 101-year-old giant pumpkin grower Mae Powell.
When the requisite jokes and quips are cast aside, Folsom will be remembered as a true giant in the industry.
“Jim’s indelible imprint on the Huntington is everywhere,” said Huntington President Karen Lawrence. “It can be seen in the gardens he has built, the botanical collections he has developed, the relationships he has nurtured with donors and in the passion for the natural world that he has shared enthusiastically through programs for young and old. Any description of his duties fails to

Photos courtesy the Huntington Library
Conservator Christina Milton O’Connell removes discolored varnish with small swabs.

One of the most famous works at the Huntington Library, “The Blue Boy” (ca. 1770), by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), has been reinstalled in the Thornton Portrait Gallery and will be on view for visitors when the Huntington Art Gallery is allowed to reopen.
The painting was originally scheduled for installation in March 2020, but was delayed due to mandatory COVID-related museum closures. Now, when visitors are allowed to return, they will see a masterpiece resplendent after an extensive 18-month initiative to analyze, conserve and restore the work. Minute shades of color, fine brushstroke textures and nuanced details of the famous figure of a young man in a blue satin costume, as well as the landscape in which he stands, are once again legible and closer to what Gainsborough intended.

Photo courtesy Huntington Library
One of several corpse flowers at the Huntington Library is scheduled to bloom in the next few days. Access to the species is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event can be viewed on a webcam at the Huntington’s website.

Even an institution as staid as the Huntington Library refuses to dodge the obvious.
“Well, it’s official,” its website has declared. “2020 stinks.”
But the treasured bastion of civilization isn’t referring to the collateral damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather, it’s calling attention to another impending bloom of the Amorphophallus titanium — often referred to as the corpse flower because its stench resembles that of rotting meat. The now-famous plant occasionally blossoms in the Huntington’s Conservatory, most recently on July 24, 2019, an occasion captured on time-lapse video.
“The plant is currently 36 inches tall and is growing at a rate of 2-3 inches a day,” said Lisa Blackburn, senior editor and special projects manager in the office of communications at the Huntington, noting that it is set to bloom any time between Monday, Sept. 7, and Thursday, Sept. 10.
In August 1999, a corpse flower bloomed for the first time at the Huntington, creating a rock star atmosphere among the thousands who came to visit, coaxed on by national news reports of the then-rare plant. Since that extraordinary event, the Huntington has shared the flowering with the public in six subsequent years. Currently the Huntington maintains several dozen corpse flowers in greenhouses and the Conservatory.
Not bad for a species that basically ended up in San Marino by accident.
Jim Folsom, director of the Huntington’s Botanical Gardens, was driving

Photo courtesy Huntington Library
The Chinese Garden is peaceful at twilight. The Huntington will remain open on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays for walks through the grounds.

They were originally suggested as “cool evening strolls” on the grounds of the Huntington Library, but the recent streak of hot weather might challenge that marketing plan.
“‘Cool’ might not be achievable this week, even if we stay open until midnight,” quipped the Huntington’s Lisa Blackburn. “But 85 degrees at sunset is better than 103.”
True, and any visit to the Huntington is better than none at all.

James P. Folsom, the Telleen/Jorgensen director of the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, has been named this year’s recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Award, which is considered the organization’s highest honor.
The award is presented to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to at least three of the following horticultural fields, including teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, administration, art, business and leadership.
The accolade also is one of the Great American Gardeners Awards the AHS presents annually to individuals, organizations and businesses that represent the best in American gardening. Each of the recipients has contributed significantly to fields such as scientific research, garden communication, landscape design, youth gardening and conservation.
Over his 35-year career at the helm of the Botanical division of the Huntington, Folsom has contributed to the gardens’ unprecedented growth. His accomplishments include helping create the largest Chinese Garden in the country, expanding the Japanese Garden, adding a tropical conservatory and Children’s Garden, acquiring the Whitelock cycad collection, and formalizing research and conservation programs.