BLAU, DOROTHY BERENSON, completed a storied journey through life on August 14, 2014 at age 97. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota June 13, 1917, she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1938 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. There she was a proud member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. Dorothy's real love, however, was art. She bought her first painting in 1929 at age 12 for fifty dollars, no small sum in those days. With that she was off and running as she educated her eye and built her knowledge of modern and contemporary art. She moved to Miami in 1952 and after surveying the South Florida art scene opened her first gallery in 1953. As one of the area's pioneer art dealers she assembled the top local artists including the likes of Syd Solomon and Eugene Massin into one gallery. This gallery morphed into a partnership with Roddy Burdine of the Burdines Stores family in Coconut Grove. From there she went on to become one of the leading forces as an art dealer in both Florida and the national contemporary art world with galleries in Bay Harbor and Boca Raton. Andy Warhol credited Dorothy as being critical to his international rise to fame as one of the premier artists of the Twentieth Century. He painted Dorothy's portrait at two different times in her life which is something that he did for no other person. Along with Warhol, Dorothy was also notably instrumental in the successes of Keith Haring, John CRASH Matos and the husband and wife team of Cristo and Jeanne Claude. The rest of her stable of over fifty internationally known artists included Robert Indiana, Franceois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, Alex Katz, Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Ernest Trova, Jean Dubuffet and a host of others, many of whom were her personal friends. As important to Dorothy as the artists she represented were her legion of friends and clients from all over Florida and the world. They all relished sitting at her feet over the years to learn about contemporary art and the art of collecting. Far too numerous to name, she loved them all with a fierce dedication and devotion they all recognized and reciprocated. Dorothy was predeceased by her parents, Annabel and Michael Conner as well as her four siblings, Michael Conner, Herold Connor, Lester Connor, her sister Helen Johnson and Helen's husband, Bud Johnson. She is survived by her daughter Sara Brenner and Sara's husband Sam as well as her son James Berenson and his partner Dennis Yelkin; grandchildren Kate Schoninger and Mark and Louanne Schoninger, sister-in-law Miriam Connor, along with a host of nephews and nieces including her beloved Tod Johnson and William Johnson, Patty Connor Olivares, Michael Connor, Jeffrey and Lindsay Conner. A celebration of Dorothy's life is being planned for the South Florida area but these arrangements are not yet complete.
Published in the Miami Herald on Aug. 23, 2014