Kurlas Family Supports Fine Arts Expansion

The first phase of a new Episcopal Artists’ Row will open this fall, thanks to a gift from Tony and Ginger Kurlas and their three daughters.

Becca Hoadley’s “Draw, Paint, Print” classes will move to the newly christened Kurlas House, and Mark Zimmerman’s “Photography” classes will move next door.  Michelle Krueger’s classes will follow next year, and the three together will create a community for Episcopal’s visual artists and their faculty.

The Kurlas family’s support was the catalyst. “I am thrilled that the Kurlases have helped to make this vision possible,” says The Rev. Adam Greene, Head of School. “Tony and Ginger understand the importance of the arts to a great education, and their support will benefit arts students for many years to come.”

The Kurlases are longtime supporters of independent schools, though they themselves did not attend them. Ginger grew up in Owensboro, KY, and went to public school there, graduating from the University of Kentucky. She has a master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh. Tony attended public school in Louisville, KY, and graduated from Centre College with a B.S. in Economics. He is currently a Managing Director with Merrill Lynch / Bank of America where he serves as the Community Markets Strategy Executive.

When they moved to Jacksonville with their three young girls, they toured many schools in the area. “We fell in love with St. Mark’s,” says Ginger. “We valued the education we had growing up, and all that it had to offer, but it was different. Our girls have received a spiritual foundation as well as a great education at St. Mark’s and at Episcopal. They’ve embraced all of it.”

Both St. Mark’s and ESJ encouraged artistic expression and creativity.  Courtney Kurlas, now at College of Charleston, excelled in Becca Hoadley’s painting classes in high school. “She has loved art since elementary school,” says Tony. “She found fulfillment in art and a role model in Becca Hoadley” mentioned Ginger. “Courtney is very talented. We hope she’ll continue to find joy in art.” 

Mimi Kurlas has pursued ceramics and will take AP Ceramics as a senior. “She loves the time spent in ceramics class,” says Ginger. “Bob Kirk has been a wonderful teacher, and those classes have been a creative outlet for her.” 

Ginny is heading into ninth grade, and her parents are certain she will forge her own creative path. “Ginny is creative and she could do many different things, which may include the arts.”

The art teachers who have mentored the Kurlas girls since they were young are the driving force behind the Kurlases’ decision to support the arts house renovation. “I had a great mentor twenty-five years ago when I started at Merrill Lynch, and he taught me early on in my professional career the importance of giving back,” says Tony. “It’s important for our kids to learn the same.”

Tony’s experience at Centre College was his first with private education and it had a significant impact on him. “Centre did a lot for me and there were a number of people who helped make that possible,” says Tony. “As a result Centre has been a strong passion of mine since I graduated, which is why we’ve endowed a scholarship there in an effort to make the Centre experience possible for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive it,” he says. 

“We are excited to host an opening this fall of our new arts houses,” says Katie Black ‘95, director of Fine Arts. “Episcopal artists will thrive in these spaces for years to come.” 

 Kurlas House will be open for classes this fall.