Remembering Rocky

rockerfeller fundraiser

(from left): Former Lieutenant Governor Al DelBello, Polly Siwek, and Happy and Nelson Rockefeller.

I had quite forgotten how spectacular the view is at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown. This week, it was glorious as Friends of ArtsWestchester shared a visit. (These are our special members whom we take to stellar arts places.) Henry Moore was at Kykuit to welcome us. Not in person of course, but in spirit. His sculpture dominated the landscape, proclaiming to all the power of the arts. It controlled the setting just as Governor Nelson Rockefeller controlled the state as a four-term governor. Thinking about “Rocky,” the avid art collector, there in his own home, led me down memory lane. Rocky was the man who brought art to the public, first by crafting the New York State Council for the Arts and soon after by filling the corridor of the Empire State Plaza in Albany with the works of the most recognized New York artists of our time. Let’s not forget, Rocky was governor from 1959 to 1973, a period in which the New York arts scene was sizzling. Little known perhaps was Governor Rockefeller’s role in creating the Westchester Arts Council, now ArtsWestchester (guided by his aide Nina Jones Fink). This was 25 years before my time at the arts council, but I’m told that the launch party at Kykuit was quite the shindig. Perhaps the most significant of Rockefeller’s artistic achievements was the creation of Purchase College and the Neuberger Museum of Art. He apparently talked his good friend Roy Neuberger into dedicating his vast collection of contemporary art to a museum on the campus of SUNY Purchase. That was monumental for the arts in Westchester. But that’s not all. As I looked out on the stunning panorama of Pocantico Hills, I thought about the brilliance of the creation of Historic Hudson Valley as the stewards of five important historic properties in the Rivertowns, which are a reflection of the foresight and generosity of the Rockefeller family… truly a unique legacy for the arts in Westchester.

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