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Gloria B. Katzenberg

Gloria B. Katzenberg, a noted needlepoint artist, writer and volunteer, died.
Gloria B. Katzenberg, a noted needlepoint artist, writer and volunteer, died. (Baltimore Sun)

Gloria B. Katzenberg, a noted needlepoint artist, writer and volunteer who was a founder of Center Stage and the Chamber Jazz Society, died Dec. 30 at Roland Park Place of complications from injuries suffered in a fall.

She was 91.

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"She had many, many artistic interests," said F. Parvin Sharpless, who with Mrs. Katzenberg and Stanley Panitz, founded the Chamber Jazz Society in 1991.

"She was among a group of people I call the Baltimore Moderns," said Jay M. Fisher, deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

"She lived with modern art, furniture, design and architecture, and had been influenced by Edward M. Benesch, the Baltimore interior designer," said Mr. Fisher. "It was the way she lived."

The daughter of Charles Balder, a lawyer and investor, and Syd Balder, a homemaker, Gloria Balder was born in New York City and in 1932 moved with her family to Philadelphia.

She later moved with her family to a home in the 7600 block of Park Heights Ave., where she enrolled at the Park School, from which she graduated in 1941.

She earned an associate's degree from the old Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, and a bachelor's degree in English literature and writing in 1963 from the Johns Hopkins University.

Armed with multiple interests, through the years Mrs. Katzenberg studied painting and design at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and classical piano, theory and solfege at Peabody Preparatory School.

She studied general design at Goucher College, art therapy at the University of Maryland and needlework at the Royal School of Needlework in London. She took additional courses at the Lili Blumenthal Workshop for Weavers, Mariska Karasz Workshop for Stitchery and the Lenore Davis Soft Sculpture Workshop.

"In Baltimore, Gloria B. Katzenberg, one of the first in the area to combine crewel embroidery and needlepoint, is a leader in the stitching craze," according to a 1974 profile in the old Sunday Sun Magazine.

"'People think, oh needlepoint, you just go in one hole and out the other,' says the tall svelte blonde who is frequently found with a skein of yarn around her neck and a needle in her hand," observed the article.

Mrs. Katzenberg wrote frequently about textiles and other art exhibits for The Baltimore Sun during the 1970s. She was also the author of "Art and Stitchery: New Directions," published by Charles Scribner's in 1974, and "Needlepoint and Pattern: Themes and Variations," published the same year by Macmillan.

Examples of Mrs. Katzenberg's textile work can be found in the BMA's permanent collection.

She was a founder of the Art Seminar Group, and was a consultant to American Heritage for development of needlework courses on cassette tape. She was also a designer and instructor and was the owner of It's a Gloria, a custom design business.

Mrs. Katzenberg was a founder in 1963 of Center Stage and conducted the repertory theater's first ticket campaign. She also developed and served as curator of the Rumsey Gallery in Joppatown.

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As chair of the advisory panel of the summer arts program at Park School, Mrs. Katzenberg raised money for scholarships for inner-city youths with previous instruction in drama, dance, photography, filmmaking, ceramics, jewelry, graphic art and stagecraft.

Mrs. Katzenberg also volunteered at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where she researched and cataloged early Pablo Picasso prints and drawings.

In 2012, she donated a Robert Rauschenberg painting to the BMA.

"She gave us other things, including a Picasso print that we did not have," said Mr. Fisher. "She was always very supportive of the museum, and we could always count on her when it came to artwork of the modern era."

Mr. Fisher described her as a "strong advocate for the things she believed in."

She and her husband, Herbert M. Katzenberg, a banker and real estate investor whom she married in 1945, founded the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Mrs. Katzenberg chaired the effort to raise an endowment at the Baltimore Community Foundation that helped the city's emerging arts organizations as part of a challenge from the National Endowment for the Arts. She also established charitable funds at The Associated, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Baltimore School for the Arts.

She volunteered at the Paquin School, a city school for pregnant girls, and served as a trustee with the Lewis Baer Fund, a private foundation.

Mrs. Katzenberg, who lived for many years in Pikesville's Dumbarton neighborhood until moving to Roland Park Place in 2012, studied jazz piano and harmony with various teachers in New York and Boston.

Along with Mr. Sharpless and Mr. Panitz, the three jazz fans decided to establish the Chamber Jazz Society in Baltimore.

"We would go to Washington to jazz clubs, and not only were they expensive, the food was terrible, so we decided to establish a jazz concert venue and not a club. We modeled it after the King of France Tavern in Annapolis," recalled Mr. Sharpless.

"She and Herbert had an apartment in New York where she also studied jazz piano. She'd go to jazz clubs and make deals with musicians between sets. She was a very elegant woman and when they gave her a figure, she'd say, 'Oh, we can't afford that. What will it take to get you to come to Baltimore?' And then she'd persuade them to come."

The Chamber Jazz Society made its debut season at Park School and later moved to the BMA.

"Musicians liked coming to Baltimore on Sunday afternoons because they didn't get work in New York on Sundays," said Mr. Sharpless, who added, "Gloria made all the deals."

According to a daughter, Susan Katzenberg of Roland Park, her mother's "passions were collecting American folk art and furniture, contemporary drawings and prints, 19th-century English ceramics and Victorian sewing tools."

Other pastimes included European travel, summers at Martha's Vineyard, decorative and fine arts, music, dance, theater, visual arts and crafts.

Private graveside services were held Jan. 2 at Har Sinai Cemetery.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Katzenberg is survived by another daughter, Diane Katzenberg Braun of Lincoln, Mass.; a brother, John M. Balder Sr. of Guilford; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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