Sat 16 Apr 2011
“Collecting art, curating exhibitions, and serving on museum boards is for me as natural as breathing. In this past century of holocaust and destruction it is my link with man’s creative spirit, which in the end must prevail or we will extinguish ourselves. ”
Sigmund Balka Williams 1956 BA Political Science, 1959 Harvard Law JD.
While these pass keys may open the doors to respected and perhaps expected careers, you might not expect that he has curated over 120 art exhibitions, has chaired the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committee of the Queens Museum of Art, is a member of the Board at the Bronx Museum of Art, serves on the Advisory Council for Visual Arts at Rutgers University, has been the president of the Print Connoisseurs Society of New York and on the boards of the Judaic Museum, the Longwood Arts Project, and the Museum of Ceramics of New York, and has been board chairman of the Jewish Repertory Theater of New York, a member of the board of The Folksbiene National Jewish Theater, and was the recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon) from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 2008.
Read more at http://www.krasdalegalleries.com/Curator.html
An acquirer of art whose collection of 200 prints, promised to the college on his 50th Reunion in 2006, dovetails with those of the WCMA and supports its’ mission of teaching both about art and with art. Balka built his collection with an eye toward donating objects to the teaching museum. He assembled works particularly significant for their value in explaining both the history of art and the artistic process. Sig has been chair of the Fellows of the Williams College Museum of Art as well as a member of the Visiting Committee
And this spring with his 55th reunion in June, Sig Balka helps to mark the Jewish Religious Centers’ 20th anniversary by providing a selection of rare Jewish books from his personal collection for a special display.
From an article in the April 8 , 2011 Forward headed “Generations of Tradition, and Rare Books”
An exhibition of rare Jewish books, now on display at the Jewish Religious Center at Williams College, Massachusetts, marks the center’s 20th anniversary. Alumnus and Jewish art collector Sigmund R. Balka loaned the books — part of his own personal Judaica collection — to the center as a means of honoring its contribution to his alma mater and passing his love of Jewish heritage on to the next generation.
Balka had a different experience from the current Jewish students at Williams: “When I began at Williams there was no Jewish center. In fact, there were very few Jewish students and certainly no place they could worship. There was compulsory chapel,” Balka, who graduated in 1956, told the Forward.
“It was moving,” he remembers, “to be at the initiation of the Jewish center 20 years ago, when the prior history of the college, which was not empathetic to Jewish students, was frankly spoken about. Jewish students were able, for the first time, to have a home on campus, to be part of the student body instead of outsiders.
The Remarkable Sig Balka ’56!
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