Grazie Mille Joe & Ann!

Ann & Joe Frierson in the Cortona campus garden

Joe and Ann Frierson are among the Cortona Program’s strongest supporters and have recently again shown incredible generosity making a new gift to the Studies Abroad Program in Cortona. This major gift will be used to help sustain the needs in the multifaceted program.

As ardent champions of the School of Art, the Friersons hold a very special connection to Cortona as you can read in Ann’s wonderful talk to the Cortona students at last January’s reunion in Athens archived here below. Ann now spends two months annually in Cortona and has “fallen in love, heart and soul” with our city-on-a-hill.

Joe Frierson served over ten years as the Chair of the Lamar Dodd School of Art Board of Visitors and continues to serve as a UGA Foundation trustee where he was instrumental in the acquisition of the Kehoe center. Joe and Ann were recognized for their generous support of the Cortona program when the campus’ lovely garden terraces were named in their honor in 2009.

Program Director Chris Robinson expressed appreciation of the Frierson’s constant connection and dedication to the program:  “We were very happy to have them come and visit Cortona this summer, also attending the opening of the [La] Mostra exhibition.  Their gift has come at a crucial time, as the Cortona program builds on past achievements while battling current global economic adversity.  The Frierson’s gift leads the way to initiate our upcoming fundraising campaign in association with the Locandine Poster Exhibition.  Their generous contribution will assist with the exhibition costs and pave the way for donations to go to the Friends of Cortona Fund and have a major impact in areas of need.”

CIAO salutes the Joe and Ann’s generosity and would like to express our appreciation for their gift, making it possible for others to experience an association with Cortona through the UGA program. Generous gifts like theirs insure that students will continue to have access to the transformative life experience that all Cortona alumni hold so dear.

You can find more information elsewhere here in the CIAO website on the Locandine Poster Exhibition and link to the Franklin College page. Link directly here to Poster Donations:

A Talk Directly to Cortona Alumni Hearts  by Ann Frierson

Ciao, I Studenti!

You are probably wondering why in the world I’m standing here, and frankly, it’s a darn good question. It must be because Chris knows that Joe and I fell in love the moment Jack Kehoe introduced us to Cortona. We return each summer and my dear husband encourages and supports my return in the fall for what I refer to as my sabbatical. It is a communion with the place, its people, and the Lamar Dodd School of Art. So students, been there, done that, and have a pretty good idea of what you have felt, what you feel and what to expect.

First of all, welcome to Athens, and welcome back to the incomparable fellowship that exists with those who shared time in that magical hilltop town. The remembrance brings forth a smile as does simply saying its name. When you returned home, you were probably at a loss for words when asked about your experience – how could you possibly explain it – but, even so, I’ll bet your first response was a radiant smile. You probably followed with ‘it was amazing’ or ‘it was awesome’ or simply ‘it was great.’ Here, when you first saw each other, your whole countenance likely reflected the joy of reunion with those with whom you shared that profound experience. Words weren’t necessary, your eyes said it all and each understood.

The Director of the Studies Abroad programs told me that it is sometimes difficult for students when they return. This is not unique to UGA. When students return, everything they left is the same as they left it, but they are not. There is typically a period of adjustment in adapting to a ‘new normal.’ Would you choose to be impervious when seeking an intimate foreign experience that includes a different language and culture? Surely not.

I recently read a book by David Brooks entitled, The Social Animal. In it he explains that your subconscious is engaged 24/7 every day of your life. It computes and stores your every life experience. Think of a time when something significant was asked of or presented to you. You had an immediate reaction, but you probably felt it deserved ample consideration and said, “let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” You weighed the pros and cons and then responded. Did you know that statistically, almost every single time, your first instinct is exactly the same as your answer? That is because as you were hearing the question, your subconscious was automatically assessing it through its repository of all your life experiences.

Your Cortona experience will affect you for the rest of your lives. Decisions and choices will forever incorporate what you assimilated without your even knowing it. You are still replete with the joy of your recent journey, but your awareness of the scope and depth of its gifts will grow over the years.

As a parent, I would like to address your parents.

It is said that the relationship between parent and child is the only love relationship that works towards ultimate separation. We know it is the parents’ responsibility to provide our children through example and opportunity, as possible, the tools to thrive without us.  What greater advantage could you have given yours? They learned the self-confidence of having to perform and be accepted on their merits alone. They learned to adapt and then prosper within an alien environment and learn from the differences. If you haven’t already, please make an effort to meet Chris, Marco and Jacob. Chris is the rock on whose strong and able shoulders the program is carried, but all three should be congratulated on the success of their efforts on your children’s behalf. More importantly, they should be thanked because their love for the program was translated into sincere caring and concern for each student. Both Danielle and Casey truly embellished the year through their work and engaging personalities. Mere thanks are insufficient for the faculty.  They taught with the same passion they express in their own artistic endeavors.  Everyone, and I do mean everyone, selflessly worked together, to assure that the rewards of each student far outweighed any imagined. What a rare opportunity your children have had. It won’t be forgotten.

Students, enjoy this precious time together. You have lived, worked, played and cried together – creating indestructible bonds.  You resided in a magical place that will forever remain in your hearts. Cherish it. I would say to you, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it was.”

In conclusion, quoting from the Eagles’ song, Hotel California, I will copycat my husband, Joe, in describing an innate truth of Cortona. “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.”

Grazie Mille
Ann Frierson


  1. Del Martin says:

    Brava, Ann! Beautifully and perfectly said!

Leave a Reply