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John Safer


John Safer has had a unique career. An internationally renowned sculptor throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, Safer at the same time was a successful entrepreneur who went on to become a major figure in banking.

 In the field of art, the New York Times compared Safer’s position as a sculptor to that of Georgia O’Keeffe as a painter and Ansel Adams as a photographer. The U.S. Department of State sent John Safer sculptures abroad to be exhibited as an example of America’s finest art. His works today stand in private collections and public sites and have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and embassies throughout the world. “Ascent”, a 75-foot-high work described as one of the great public sculptures of our time, stands at the entrance of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum at Dulles. 

Well past his eighties, Safer continued to create sculpture. He worked with his stepdaughter, Kathryn Scott, to whom he taught his trade and offered his mantle.

 In 2007 they collaborated with architects to create a 35-foot-high sculpture, “Quest”, for the Johns Hopkins Medicine Wilmer Eye Institute. In 2008, they produced a monumental work for General Dynamics headquarters. Over the next ten years, Safer and Scott continued to work together on private and public projects. In 2016 they completed an 11-foot-high mirror finished, “Interplay”, for the lobby of the state-of-the-art LEED wing of the Kimmel Cancer Center expansion at Sibley Hospital in Washington. In 2014 Scott began negotiations with MGM Resorts International tor a centerpiece at MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The 60-foot-high stainless steel sculpture, “Unity”, weighing eighteen thousand pounds and unprecedented in its scale, was installed at the entrance of the MGM hotel two years later — one month before the December 2016 opening of the $1.4B resort.

On December 7, 2018, John Safer died peacefully with his daughters at his side.


BANKING: Chairman, Board of Directors, NationsBank, DC

 Chairman, Executive Committee, Financial General Bankshares 


BUSINESS: Real estate development owner, John Safer Properties

 Chairman, Board of Directors, Materia, Inc.


CIVIC: Board of Directors, Smithsonian Institution, National Air & Space Museum 

 Board of Directors, The Scripps Research Institute

 Board of Directors, The Shakespeare Guild

 Founder, Washington Tennis Center

 Treasurer, Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation 

 Inspector, U. S. Department of State 

 Founder and Director, Washington Gallery of Modern Art 

 National Campaign Director, Eugene McCarthy for President


EDUCATION: George Washington University, A.B. 

 Harvard Law School, LL.B.

 Lees-McRae College, Litt.D 

 Daniel Webster College, D. Phil


REFERENCE: Who’s Who in America

 Who’s Who in the World

 Who’s Who in American Art

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