Robert Hoehn shares his passion for art with the community

Robert A. Hoehn of Del Mar is president of The Hoehn Co. and vice president of Hoehn Motors. He has served on the University of San Diego’s Board of Trustees since 1996. From 2004 to 2007, he chaired the board, and in 2002-03, he served as chairman of the USD Presidential Search Committee. Hoehn followed his father and grandfather into the automobile dealership industry. A native of Memphis, Tenn., he moved to California with his parents after graduating from Bowdoin College with a dual bachelor’s degree in English and art history.

Hoehn and his wife, Karen, have two daughters. The couple collect prints from the 15th century to the present, and are involved in the arts at USD. Hoehn curated an exhibition of Rembrandt etchings held in the fall of 2004 and authored the catalog “The Gospel According to Rembrandt.” An exhibition of Old Masters prints from the Hoehn Collection (one of the premier collections on the West Coast) was shown at USD’s Founders Gallery in 1995. Fifteen of Rembrandt’s New Testament prints from the 1650s, owned by the Hoehns, are on display at The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park through May 2.

Hoehn is past president of the board of directors of the Timken Museum of Art and has served on the boards of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the San Diego Museum of Art and Catholic Charities.

What brought you to Del Mar?

When my father bought an existing Oldsmobile/Honda/Mercedes-Benz dealership in Carlsbad, we all moved out from Memphis. When we arrived, my parents turned left to La Jolla and I turned right to Del Mar. I have live here ever since.

What makes this town special to you?

More than any other factor is that Del Mar is where we raised our family. Besides, what’s not to like? It is cozy, beautiful, the right size, and a perfect distance between my work and San Diego.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

This might be a little controversial, but I think I would eliminate about two-thirds of the eucalyptus trees in the area. They are a hazard in storms and fire and they block views.

Who or what inspires you?

Larry Romain inspires me. Larry is a Haitian refugee who 15 years ago appeared on an island in the Bahamas where we have a small beach house. He lived in a shelter he made from material from the dump. Larry did back-breaking labor (work that no one else wanted to do) in a very harsh environment — the Bahamian bush and relentless heat. He now has a home and wonderful family. He has not been back to Haiti since his arrival in the Bahamas and he is trying to get back now. He lost a brother in the earthquake.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

First of all, any dinner party would have to include my wife and two daughters. This is not an obligatory or sentimental answer, they are truly my favorite company. As far as the other eight, I have to divide my answer into two groups. The first group would be eight people from the Last Supper. The nonreligious grouping would be Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Bach, C.S.Lewis, Henry V and, perhaps, Blaise Pascal.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

I recently re-read “David Copperfield” and “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. (The writing in “Tarzan” is a little embarrassing but the yarn is great.) I am currently reading Henry Fielding’s “Joseph Andrews” and “The History of Christianity” by Diarmaid MacCullough. He is a superb historian.

What is your most-prized possession?

This changes, or perhaps I should say rotates. At the moment, it is a Limoges champleve enamel book cover from c. 1200.

What do you do for fun?

I am passionate about free diving, spear fishing and hiking/climbing/hunting in the Scottish Highlands.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

If I could claim 1 percent of making my daughters who they are, that would certainly be my greatest accomplishment.

What is your motto?

Carpe conch/deo gratias.