Joan Mondale, Arts Advocate And Former Second Lady, Dies At 83

On Monday afternoon, arts patron and former Second Lady Joan Mondale died at the age of 83. Mondale was the wife of Walter Mondale, former Vice President to Jimmy Carter and 1984 presidential candidate, but Joan was an icon in her own right. She was dubbed "Joan Of Art" for her passion and advocacy of arts and culture, and was honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities under the Carter administration. Her family announced on Sunday that she'd entered hospice care.

In a statement released to the public, Walter said: "We are grateful for the expressions of love and support we have received. Joan was greatly loved by many. We will miss her dearly."

An arts lover most of her life, Joan was offered a platform for advocacy when her husband was elected Vice-President under President Carter in 1977. She appealed to Congress to increase funding for arts and culture, and frequently traveled to museums, theaters, and galleries on behalf of the White House. She was credited with bringing the public's attention to many cultural pursuits, and in 1972 wrote a book aligning politics and artworks, "Politics In Art."

"Sometimes we do not realize how important our participation in politics is," she wrote. "Often we need to be reminded of our duty as citizens. Artists can do just that."

When her husband was named U.S. ambassador to Japan under the Bill Clinton administration, Joan relished the opportunity to take her cultural zeal overseas. She studied and created Japanese art, and delighted diplomats in the country by presenting them with her pottery. She also organized artwork tours of the American Embassy in Japan, having decorated the institution with American paintings.

Image: City of Boston Archives