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Melva Bucksbaum

One of the greatest art patrons of our age, Melva Bucksbaum, passed away over the weekend. Her generosity was legendary, her passion for contemporary art contagious, and the tributes pouring in from all over are obviously very heartfelt. Few people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the art world have earned as much true admiration and respect. Beyond her tireless efforts to raise the stature of contemporary artists, Melva inspired a tremendous number of people with the incredible grace and courage she demonstrated throughout her fight with cancer. Updating her Facebook page with frank discussions of the triumphs and trials of her battle, always putting a positive spin on things, she made you proud to know someone so strong and optimistic.

I will let others share the long list of Melva’s contributions to contemporary art, and here share two simple anecdotes that demonstrate why she will forever stand for me as the type of human we should all strive to be.

The first was at the opening of the exhibition Melva curated at The Granary in 2014. It was titled “The Distaff Side” and Melva politely inquired whether I was familiar with that term (I was, but only because a high school friend of mine had made a joke using it once) when I congratulated her on it. She confessed that she had only learned the term recently. Mind you, not only was Melva fighting cancer during this time, but the occasion also happened to coincide with her birthday. When I introduced her to Jennifer Dalton (whose work was in their collection and the exhibition), though, she focused all her million-wattage attention on Jen, praising her work and inquiring about her practice. It was Melva’s birthday, the reception of the exhibition she curated, she was dealing with a serious condition, and yet she ensured that Jen was made to feel like the star of the moment. She melted my heart in that moment, and I’ll never forget it.

The other anecdote was even simpler. As I often do, I once posted the lyrics of a song I like on Facebook. This time from The Smiths:

Spending warm summer days indoors
Writing frightening verse
To a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg

Melva commented, rather obliquely, “You better watch out. Ray [i.e., her husband, Raymond Learsy] is from Luxembourg.” I tried to reassure her I meant no insult to the fine duchy of Luxembourg, but I was more amazed that I didn’t actually know Ray was from Luxembourg. I also thought it sounded like the kind of thing someone uses to tease their sweetheart about, or perhaps a protective stance. Anyone who ever saw them together understood immediately how madly in love Ray and Melva were. This comment, though, underscored it for me in a way that transcended the glamorous events where our paths usually crossed. His love clearly made her young at heart. It was gorgeous and so reaffirming. I know Melva’s legacy as a supporter of contemporary artists will live on in the halls of our greatest museums and private collections. Her legacy as a human will as well in the hearts of nearly anyone who ever met her.

May she rest in peace.
SOURCE: edward_ winkleman – Read entire story here.


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