Thought Row Episode 8: The Birth of an Art Museum

Posted by Inci Johnson on

Thought Row Episode 8: The Birth of an Art Museum 


This episode features Gene Sasse. Gene shares his experiences as the Founder and Director of the Sasse Museum of Art and the road to making the Southern California museum a success, all the while he operates his  successful commercial photography business. If you need positive and creative motivation to lift your spirits for the whole week.

Sasse Museum of Art -







Show Notes: 


R: And here are...motivating you to live more creatively. I’m Rod Jones

I: And I’m Inci Jones...Welcome to the Thought Row podcast. Let’s start with a motivational quote. 

R: What do you have for us today Inci? 

I: This quote was given to us by our guest today. And it’s a good one!

Quote: Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Hellen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein. ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

R: Discuss the quote.

I: Today we’re going to talk about art museums. 

R: And there’s no shortage of great art museums around the world. What is your favorite art museum? What is your favorite art museum in the United States? 

I: favorite museum is the Musee de Orsay in Paris. 


I: What is your favorite museum Rod? 

R: I’m not sure I know how to pronounce’s in Zurich and I remember we had to walk thru neighborhoods to get to it. And unfortunately they were robbed some years later after our visit. They lost hundreds of millions of dollars in fine art. 

R: My favorite museum in the United States is the Huntington Library. And I especially like the literature and they have an original copy of Audubon’s book with incredible illustrations on birds. 

R: What is your favorite museum here in the U.S.?

I: My favorite is the Hammer in West L.A. I really enjoy the layout, and I particularly like their little room down stairs with new artists exhibiting. Always so fresh and exciting to see what is there. 


R: One of the reasons...and there are many, why museums are a wonderful place to look at original art. You lose everything when you try and look at a piece of art on a computer or mobile device. 

I: I completely agree with you Rod. I know for me, I derive a tremendous amount pleasure looking at an original piece of art. Especially if I have the luxury of visually exploring it by myself. 

Discuss - spiritual connection

R: I know when Inci & I photograph our art to post on our websites and social media, we have to do a little bit of tweaking to try and get the best rendition to be seen online. It never fully translates. 

I: I personally have always been able to feel a great deal of energy when viewing a painting in person. Probably the one that hit me deeply was the self portrait of Van Gogh at the Musee de Orsay in Paris. 


I: There is a relatively new museum in Southern California that is in its seventh year. It’s called the Sasse Museum of Art. 

R: That’s the museum that was founded by Gene Sasse. 

I: Who we are delighted to have as our guest today. 

R: Hi Gene...welcome to Thought Row podcast. 

I: Hi Gene...good to have you here today...we always like to start out with a tough here you go.

What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

(a few mins of casual conversation before we start the interview)

R: You have been managing dual careers, one as a commercial photographer and the second as the Founder and Director of the Sasse Museum of Art. How do those two work together? 

I: As a commercial photographer you have had to deal with many different client personalities. How has that prepared you for dealing with the personalities of artists? 

R: We understand that you have been a commercial photographer your whole adult life. Then you decided to build an art museum.Why did you decide to do this? Why did you decide to do this? In retrospect, do you think that was a good decision?

I: Running an art museum would be considered by most like running any business. But what you do you think has been your greatest challenge?

R: We’ve learned that you have recently made the decision to include artists from around the world in your exhibitions and art talks. Was this always part of your plan for the Sasse Museum of Art? 

I: Besides the constraints of curating shows from artists in different time zones, how have you managed to make that work for you? 

I: Has your online presence been a productive tool? 

R: People have been referring to the Sasse Museum of Art as the Sasse. It’s very catchy. What are your thoughts on that particular take on the museum's name?

R: Like all museums, I know you have probably had to address the capital needs to keep the museum open. If someone wanted to start an art museum today, what would be your #1 recommendation? 

I: How many pieces of art do you have in your permanent collection? And are they all paintings, or do you have photography and sculptural pieces. 

I: What is the most prized piece of art the Sasse museum has in its collection? 

R: This may be a bit personal but, running an art museum and continuing your occupation as a commercial photographer, do you find it difficult to manage both? And how does it impact your social life? 

I: We are sure you have ambitions for the Sasse Museum of Art. Could you share with us your top 3 goals for 2021? 

R: If you had to build an art museum again, what would be the #1 thing you would avoid?

I: It’s obvious to us and everyone that has had the opportunity to meet with you or work with you that you are passionate when it comes to exhibiting creativity. Over the last several years what would you consider to be your greatest personal reward?

R: Thank you so much Gene for your time today. Very insightful. 

I: We hope that everyone has the opportunity to ultimately visit the Sasse Museum. 

R: But if you can’t you can visit it at: Sasse Art Museum.Org 

I: We will post all of the museum’s contact information in show notes.

R: Thanks again Gene. Bye for now

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