Celebrating our Fellows Members and Honoring Susan Smythe
At the Gibbes Museum, we look forward to Memorial Day Weekend and the artistic energy that swells throughout Charleston with the opening of Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto. The streets bustle with visitors, the parks are packed with artists, the theaters are filled with musicians and thespians that delight and inspire our creative spirits. The Friday of the holiday weekend also marks the joyous occasion of our annual Fellows luncheon, which for over 17 years has allowed us to enjoy each other’s company, acknowledge group and individual accomplishments, and embrace our artistic future before many disperse for the summer. This year was markedly different.
While the COVID-19 crisis prevented our gathering this year, our membership numbers thankfully remain strong. And because of so many people’s belief in the power of the visual arts, we are making a difference in our community even when we can’t be together in our beautiful museum. Art is the reason the Gibbes exists. Through your generosity it will continue to inspire children and adults for generations to come.
In lieu of our luncheon, Executive Director Angela Mack and Board Chair Helen Pratt-Thomas delivered remarks virtually via a video message (above). They expressed appreciation for the hard work of our auxiliary groups, the Gibbes Women’s Council and Society 1858, who together raised over $100,000 to support the Museum’s education and exhibition programs and the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. They thanked the Board for its tireless commitment, especially in recent months as the COVID pandemic continued to unravel our springtime plans and cause uncertainty for the months ahead. They shared words of gratitude for all of our city and county officials as well as our many artist friends and community partners who have kindly worked with us over the past year, especially those from our restaurant and beverage industry who have been hit hard during the crisis. They gave a huge, warm thank you to the outstanding, hardworking Gibbes staff who have been on hyperdrive to stay engaged with our audiences virtually and to plan for our reopening with new measures to keep our staff and visitors safe.
Finally, Angela Mack had the privilege on behalf of the Board and staff of the Gibbes to announce the recipient of the James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award. James Gibbes’ generosity and vision set the stage for the visual arts in Charleston by providing the funds to build the oldest art museum in the South.
This year we honored Susan Smythe whose remarkable contributions as a member of the Board since 2011, including her service as Board chair in 2018, specifically relate to Gibbes governance and the successful completion of the Historic Tax Credit process that substantially benefitted the Gibbes restoration and renovation project. Her leadership has truly made a difference for the Gibbes and we could not think of a better person to receive this year’s award.
As we look towards our safe reopening in the coming weeks, we look forward to welcoming you back to the Gibbes Museum. It is because of art lovers like you that we do what we do, and we are reminded that through our complicated history, through light and shadow, we have persevered – humanity intact.
—Published May 23, 2020