Joan Adams Mondale has been a leading patron and advocate for the arts in America for more than four decades. An accomplished potter herself, she has worked to advance artistic appreciation and achievement in America, and to use the arts as a cultural bridge to other nations, earning for herself the apt sobriquet "Joan of Art."
A graduate of Macalester College, where she majored in history and minored in art and French, she worked at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Minneapolis Institute of Art before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1964. There she led guided tours at the National Gallery of Art, continued her work as a potter and, while her husband was vice president, served as chairperson of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
During her husband's tenure as U.S. ambassador to Japan, Mrs. Mondale focused much of her effort on promoting intercultural understanding through appreciation of the arts. She arranged for paintings, prints, photographs and crafts from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles to be exhibited in the ambassador's official residence under auspices of the State Department's Art-in-Embassies program. She arranged for bilingual volunteer guides to lead tours of the art works, and she sponsored public presentations of slides and videos about American art.
Mrs. Mondale visited the studios and homes of many Japanese potters, glassblowers, weavers and other artisans to demonstrate her support of Japan's traditional crafts. She returned to Minnesota each summer of her three-year residency in Tokyo to make pottery, which she brought back to Japan as gifts to Japanese officials on ceremonial occasions.
Now back in her home state, Mrs. Mondale continues to grow artistically, making her own pottery and promoting the arts and aesthetic causes. She serves on the boards of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra, Walker Art Center, Macalester College and the National Portrait Gallery.