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The Legacy Society


As The Studio Museum in Harlem marks fifty-one years of supporting black art and artists and prepares to open our new home on 125th Street, we are proud to formally launch our Legacy Society, a special recognition society for our most forward-thinking donors.

 

 

Opening of Harlem Artists '69 (contact sheet), 1969. Photo: Studio Museum in Harlem

We are incredibly grateful for the leadership of our beloved current Trustee, Nancy Lane, and former Trustee and longtime supporter, Joyce Haupt, who have agreed to co-chair the Legacy Society, and to all the donors who have generously included the Studio Museum in their estate plans. Ensuring the long-term future of this culturally significant institution and its ability to serve artists and diverse audiences for generations to come has never been more critical.

 

Joyce Haupt, Co-Chair

Nancy Lane, Co-Chair

Suzanne Johnson, Esq.

Martin Z. Margulies

Martin Nesbitt

Clarence Otis and Jacqueline Bradley

Estate of Robert Short

George Wein

Estate of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

 

Below is an excerpted conversation between Thelma Golden and the Legacy Society co-chairs, Joyce Haupt and Nancy Lane, about their long history and involvement with the Studio Museum, and what legacy means to them.

 


 

Thelma Golden: First of all, thank you both for your incredible leadership and agreeing to chair this amazing effort on behalf of the Museum. Nancy, how long have you been associated with The Studio Museum in Harlem? Can you please share how you first became involved?

Nancy Lane: Well, I've been a Board Member since 1973, and I was a volunteer for a while before that. I saw a television program on the Artist-in-Residence program. It was so exciting! After seeing that show that morning, I came to the Museum, introduced myself to Ed Spriggs, and said to him, "Tell me, what I can do to help?"

TG: Oh, that's fantastic! Thank you. And what about you, Joyce?

Joyce Haupt: Well, I learned about the Museum shortly after it opened in 1968. I think I learned about it through The New York Times. And I've been coming ever since. It was just the place that you wanted to be. Having come from the South, Mississippi, specifically, my exposure to museums was very limited. When I came to New York, I went to museums, but I never saw anything about African-American artists. Even in college, I was never exposed to anything about African-American artists. So to come to the Museum and to discover African-American artists...that was absolutely amazing!

TG: When did you join the Board?

JH: 1997.

TG: Yes, that's right. And you served on the Board for decades.

JH: I think fourteen years.

TG: Exactly. And we thank you for that. What has inspired both of you to remain involved in the Museum?

JH: I very much admire what you have done, and what you plan to do, in terms of your mission, the nurturing of African-American artists, your innovative educational programs, and, of course, your exhibitions. Another thing is what you've done in terms of support for the Museum, starting with membership, individual giving, and especially the brilliant Capital Campaign that you've embarked on to build a new home for the Museum. I just admire, really, the excellence and what has happened here.

NL: I want to say ditto, ditto, ditto! I also want to say that my initial interest was prompted by the Artist-in-Residence program. Like Joyce, I didn't have much exposure to museums, either, and certainly not to African-American artists. Therefore, this has been a whole new world for me, and one that I really enjoy being immersed in. Involvement with the Museum provides an opportunity not only to become familiar with the work of these artists but also to get to know them and talk to them personally. That has made an enormous difference in my focus and my collecting as well.

TG: Both of you have witnessed this trajectory of the Museum over the years, everything from the physical growth and the programmatic growth, to the impact the Museum has had in the world. Are there any particular moments that stand out for you personally? Perhaps a memory of something that happened in the Museum, or of an experience that gives a sense about why the Museum is important to you?

JH: You know, there are just so many moments. I don't think that there's one moment that I could point to, but to meet artists, to see their work, and to have conversations about the work is very special. Of course, I will always cherish the moments with Sam Gilliam and Romare Bearden.

NL: As Joyce said, it's hard to single out one moment. But an example is watching artists such as Henry Taylor grow. There we were, at one of his first solo museum show openings in New York. Another example is when Mark Bradford ... up until that point, Mark had only an exhibition in a very small gallery in California. Other than that, he was an unknown. And then he was a part of our show, Freestyle and the rest is history. Now, we see Mark on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper. If those two artists were the exception, then that would be one thing, but they're not. They are just among the many artists whose careers have been ignited and energized by their involvement with the Studio Museum. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this?

 

5th Avenue loft, exterior, c. 1968. The first Studio Museum building.


"I learned about the Museum shortly after it opened in 1968... And I've been coming ever since. It was just the place that you wanted to be."


TG: For both of you, your involvement has helped the Museum grow, and one of the primary areas, the heart of the Museum, is collecting. You are both wonderful collectors. Why is collecting art important to you?

NL: It's another way to demonstrate our commitment to the overall mission. But also, what a joy it is to have in my home and to look every day at works by some of the artists that I've been introduced to through the Studio Museum. So I love being surrounded by the work. Being a New Yorker, there's only so much space, and that means everything is hung salon style. Wherever you look, you're going to see something. And that's a joy.

JH: You know, I never considered myself a collector, because in the very beginning I just started to buy works that spoke to me, that resonated with me, that interested me, and work that I thought was beautiful to look at and beautiful to have on my walls. I love having beautiful things around. But thanks to the Studio Museum, I was able to begin to focus and build a strategy. So, in a nutshell, it really is about having works that you really love, and it's wonderful to have met so many of those artists through the Studio Museum. It's all about love and appreciation for things that African-American artists have created.

TG: What's the work that you consider your first significant acquisition?

NL: It might be the work by Sam [Gilliam] because Joyce and I got to know him personally and visit him at his studio. In fact, when I got my first pieces by Sam, he came to my home and installed them himself. Now, really, what joy!

JH: The first piece I bought was a piece by Romare Bearden, at the suggestion of Bertina Hunter, called Tidings. Remember that work?

TG: Yes! Yes, of course!

JH: Then I decided that maybe I wanted to look more and buy something in the abstract mode. Janet Carter, an early Museum Trustee, really helped me focus more. Then I bought a piece by Noah Jemison, which hangs today in the center of my living room. That was really the start of my interest in abstraction. One of the things that really makes me feel so great about this piece is that when Sam Gilliam and Annie were at my apartment, Sam looked at that work and said, "Who is that artist?" And when I told him, he said, "I really like that work." And I said, "Oh my goodness! What an endorsement that is." Those are really the two pieces that represent where I am today in terms of my collecting.

TG: I want to talk about the Legacy Society. In one way, it is so clear that both of your legacies will be your pioneering careers, which set an example for many of us and created a sense of opportunity. Can you tell me how you think about legacy as it relates to these personal pursuits: art involvement, philanthropy, and collecting?

NL: I love the word legacy, first of all. The word has great emotional content, and when I think about my legacy from a professional standpoint, it's not separate from art. It's been very important to me. My personal philanthropy has been in higher education, where I've been deeply involved on a personal level, and as it relates to the arts. I have been able, fortunately, to focus, no matter which institution I been involved with, on African-American artists. But particularly, of course, here, which is why I'm here.

JH: I believe that one should, first of all, support an institution that has meant the most. And in this instance, to me, it really is the Studio Museum. It just makes sense for me to share a portion of the assets that I've accumulated over the years with this institution. I would hope that, as a result of my participation in this endeavor, it will be a stimulus to get other people to give so that the Museum has a strong foundation. More specifically, in terms of my legacy, it would really be in two forms. One would be the sharing of my art, through the Museum, in a way that will close a few gaps that the Museum might have [in its collection], and that would, in some ways, add a little bit of interest. It will be there for others to see and enjoy as I have enjoyed. Then, of course, the second part would be my financial assets, which would be used in a way to ensure that there is some foundation [for the Museum's future]. So, my hope is that I made a small contribution to the Museum's future.

TG: What does it mean to both of you to chair the Museum's Legacy Society?

NL: I know I speak for both of us when I say it's an honor since our enthusiasm and our personal commitment to this institution is so strong. As Joyce said earlier, what I know I want to be able to do is have my commitment, and my involvement last beyond me. When I am no longer on the right side of the grass, I still want to be able to make a difference here at the Museum. And that's what the Legacy Society permits me to do.

TG: What are your hopes for the Museum's future?

JH: My hope is that the Museum will have a very strong, healthy endowment! And that a part of that endowment comes from planned giving. The endowment should yield about thirty percent for operating costs, but I hope that ours will be big enough that one day we could yield more than thirty percent.

TG: And Nancy, what are your hopes for the Museum's future?

NL: I know that Joyce has been consistent with what she has always said in advocating for an endowment to support the Museum's future, and she's really has been a pioneer in that way. I'm also hoping that my involvement in the Legacy Society can ultimately establish a firm base for the Museum. Now, I was thinking about your question earlier about special moments ... a special moment that I recall is when we received our designation as an accredited institution. I was chair of the Board at the time, and at the ceremony with current and former Trustees, we held hands in front of the Gallery and sang the Dreamgirls' song "We Are Family …"

TG: What would you say to other people who are thinking about becoming involved with the Museum? What would you say to them to convince them that they should consider the Studio Museum as a place to be involved?

JH: I think that you could only really talk about the Legacy Society with someone who is already involved with the Museum and already appreciates what the Museum brings to the art world. It's the person who already knows the Museum, who knows of our mission, who knows our programs, who knows the staff, who knows you. But, to get one to consider becoming involved, I would emphasize that this Museum is the institution that will provide the most comprehensive and satisfying experience relating to art by artists of African descent.

TG: Nancy, what would you say?

NL: I would say that if you want to be able to continue the commitments you've made during your lifetime, this is one way that you can do it. And this is an institution where I would hope; a person would want to do it. If you care about the arts, if you care about opportunities, particularly for our young people in the future, this is a way to do it. Even when you are no longer here in person, you can continue to make things happen for other people. And that's what legacy is about.

TG: Fantastic. Is there anything else either of you would like to say?

JH: I just think that it's absolutely wonderful that you've reached the point, in all of your plans, that we can now focus on building a legacy. Formalizing this and really creating awareness, it's exciting!

NL: The Studio Museum was the first culturally specific institution to be accredited. I remember when El Museo del Barrio received their accreditation, and in their acceptance letter, they said they were proud to join The Studio Museum in Harlem as an accredited institution. In that way, we have been a pioneer. And it takes people contributing and the Legacy Society to continue that work!

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Nancy Lane, Spring Luncheon 2018. Photo: Scott Rudd

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Joyce Haupt, Gala 2018. Photo: Ben Gabbe

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