Patching Things Up with Ken Cottrell

Our very own Mr. Fix-It is tearing it up in the shop: the Facilities Manager tells all

As Marin Art & Garden Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, it’s no surprise that there’s quite a lot of maintenance and repair needed to keep our historic facilities in good working order. We are very lucky to have a facilities manager who is a master of making do, and tackles projects large and small for the Center.

Ken Cottrell joined the staff here in 2014, after a long career as a contractor. Ken grew up in Menlo Park, then enlisted in the Navy, where he served in the amphibious fleet in the Western Pacific. The Navy sent him to the Department of Defense journalism school, after which returned to the fleet in Da Nang.

Once he returned to California, Ken found his calling in the construction business. He can point out homes all around the Ross Valley that he worked on as he raised his family in the area. Getting his start in the early 1970s, he crossed paths with several of the designers who have contributed to the grounds here at Marin Art & Garden Center. He worked on a house in Sausalito that was designed by Gardner Dailey, who designed The Studio here; while working on another project, Ken also met Thomas Church, the first landscape designer for the MAGC grounds.

Those connections are part of what drew Ken to the job here. Working at the Marin Art & Garden Center seems to bring a new challenge every day and Ken brings a wealth of experience to help us patch any leaks and mend all fences. With their long legacy, our buildings often have issues that don’t lend themselves to an off-the-shelf solution, so Ken’s gift of improvisation has served us extremely well.  He’s also a skilled woodworker: if you’ve been in our main office, you can’t have missed the imposing front desk, which he built by hand.

Ken’s current project is a major one, the renovation of the Laurel House building in preparation for its reinvention as a new shop. Under direction from our Board member Jessica Fairchild, a local architect who specializes in historic projects, Ken has been tearing back the later additions to this space to open it up and ready it for a sparkling fresh design. He says, “it’s not one of the historic buildings here, it was a private residence before, but it has a lot of charm. It was a nice surprise to find decent hardwood under the old flooring, and the Redwood Room is something special.”

Keep an eye out for Ken, often behind the wheel of the garden cart he has dubbed The Beast, honking the horn and heading off to his next project around the grounds.

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IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center