suggested that her grandfather, Stanley Marcus, the merchandising
genius who made of Neiman Marcus what was called a “state of
mind,” would have liked it a lot. “Yes,” she agreed. “He would
have liked the whimsy of Latin American art and the political
statement.” Pleasing Stanley took some doing, she related. He
required thank-you notes for gifts he sent, and if they arrived with
errors he returned them with those mistakes noted in marks-a-lot.
Something of which he would have strongly approved is the
conviction throughout the Rose collection that “high, folk, and
decorative art are converging,” as Catherine put it. There’s the
white sculpture by Emily Sheriff, made of “compressed ash from
pizza places in Brooklyn,” spare and quietly assertive. Then, in
Ed Barnes’s perfect cube that is the dining room, I found, on a
console, to my surprise, a cluster of lovely blue and white porcelain
vases, both Chinese and Delft—a startling touch of beauty from
another era nestled into the crisp precision of today that is the
hallmark of the house. And there are Tony Fehar’s concrete casts
of plastic cups on the floor. Also his baby jars with green marbles
inside on a dining room wall. Not to forget, if ever you could, Ree
Morton’s seesaw—pine planks on a tree trunk with small white
blocks in a circle around it, like a sundial. Everywhere are excellent
photographs, preferably original vintage prints, as Catherine favors.
These were the first things she and her husband Will collected
because they liked and could afford them.
On a few steps down to the library is a small device to shock
the feet of Tillie and Wilson, Cardigan Welsh corgis, and keep
them from going any farther. Corgis are the favored family dogs.
Catherine’s in-laws, Deedie and Rusty Rose, have a Pembroke
Welsh corgi, and her aunt and uncle, Jerrie and Fred Smith, have
two. (So does Queen Elizabeth II, famously devoted to her pair.)
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the chickens Catherine used
to keep outside. Last summer a possum (the prime suspect) crept
under the side of the coop and killed them all. So she’s given up
on her own fresh eggs but she still grows veggies in the garden—
asparagus, broccoli, and herbs, with peppers, eggplant, and
artichoke expected soon to keep the household in culinary shape.
A great athlete and one-time swimmer at Highland Park High
School, then Stanford, Catherine runs every morning and does
a strenuous workout, all to keep up with her three boys, she said.
Whether it’s snowboarding or cross-country skiing in Wyoming,
she’s a contender.
Nor does she hesitate to change if a situation isn’t right for her.
When an earthquake damaged and thus closed the art museum at
Stanford, making a major in art less attractive, she transferred to
Harvard and loved it. By the time she graduated, Catherine had sold
women’s designer clothes at Neiman Marcus in Palo Alto, while
still at Stanford; held down a job at Origins in Cambridge during
the Harvard years; and interned at a search firm in New York for
people in product design, which she once had wanted to do. Later
she handled public relations for Estee Lauder, also in New York;
then worked for Emily Summers interiors and Christie’s in Dallas.
Anyone who thinks that Catherine Rose is a rare and sheltered
flower because she grew up in a glamorous household where Olivia
Newton-John and Princess Margaret came to dinner as guests of
Neiman Marcus, then run by her father Dick Marcus, should think
again. She’s not. She has had invaluable lessons, over and over,
dealing directly with customers, and they can teach you a lot.
What Catherine Rose is, is relentlessly hard working and
concentrating on the thing to be done. Not long ago it was co-chairing the $185 million Campaign for a New Century at the
Dallas Museum of Art. Today it’s new construction at the museum
where she heads the building committee and thus the effort to
open up the north entrance facing Klyde Warren Park to make
it more inviting with a small patio and food kiosk designed by
Lionel Morrison (the guy with the great eye who did One Arts
Plaza), plus warmer landscaping, like a front lawn. Confirming her
role as indispensable builder, Catherine also chairs the board of
Lamplighter School, which puts her in charge of a new structure
there committed to robotics, woodworking, and environmental
science, also a teaching kitchen. Undaunted by this exposure
to critical constituent judgment, she simply remembers what
her mother, painter Heather Marcus, used to say: “You can do
anything; just break it down into little pieces.”
Describing both these projects and more, this Rose among