Remembering a great SA philanthropist

“I felt I had an obligation to give back in a significant and extraordinary way.”

Linda Pace,
Dreaming Red: Creating ArtPace, 2003

Bright red balloons, workshops full of enthusiastic children, thoughtful contemporary art, and fun snacks, including Blue Bell ice cream. Linda Pace is still with us even though she departed our world in the summer of 2007. She continues to give to all of us in 2008.

The fifth day of April this year was Family Day: Contemporary Art in Motion at Artpace. I was there with my family along with a bustling crowd of diverse San Antonians who were curious, energetic, and festive. The afternoon reminded me of my first visit to Artpace in 1997. Many of us stood on the patio roof and thought, “This is way cool — modern art, good food, and music.” The majestic lady made it all happen for us.

What makes Artpace special? Rick R. Moore, president, CEO, and trustee of the Linda Pace Foundation had this to say: “Through the creation of Artpace and its residency program, Linda’s vision and subsequent residency model became the gold standard for artist-in-residence programs.  More than 120 artists have been through the Artpace residency program, many of whom directly attribute their time at Artpace to entirely changing how they viewed themselves as an artist, and in turn, it helped define their future

Pace, who would have celebrated her 63rd birthday this week, was a woman who had the resources to do the luxurious things most people dream about. She instead founded and invested in ventures including Artpace, CHRISpark, CampStreet, and the Linda Pace Foundation so others could see their dreams come true. The sheer beauty of making magical things happen through art was her life.

“She was passionate about giving to emerging artists because she believed that artists are vital to our society,” said Moore. “She used to say that artists strike out into terrain others don’t know about yet, and in that way artists are contemporary explorers. She wanted to invest in that kind of exploration.”

“Linda’s long-term legacy will live through Artpace, especially with the resident artists and the thousands of schoolchildren that participate in Artpace’s educational programs,” is how Jeanne Klein, chair of the Artpace board of directors, describes Pace’s long-term philanthropic legacy. “Artpace’s educational programs were especially close to her heart because she knew that the creative spirit lived in every individual and that it needed to be nourished in order to shine. “

This city has an unpaid obligation to Linda Pace. We have not thanked this woman and acknowledged her legacy and vision properly. This is my suggestion for the Luminaria 2009 planners: Name a major fundraiser in honor of Pace to raise money for Luminaria activities that benefit the citizens of this city. This fits in with Pace’s passions — art and giving. It would serve to honor the memory of this great woman, and it would also help the city recognize women who are making contributions to the arts in the Alamo City. Pace was born on April 17. A major, citywide April benefit would be the perfect way to celebrate the birth of this icon of the arts in 2009.

Last week, your humble bi-weekly servant asked Mayor Phil Hardberger about this potential idea.

“Linda Pace was truly one of the lights of our community, both as an individual and through her work with Artpace,” said Hardberger. “Honoring her life in different ways is our way of saying thanks for all she did.

On April 17, 2008, added the Mayor’s office, a memorial fund in Pace’s honor will be announced in New York City. This fund, created by her friends after her death, will be housed at Artpace and will support emerging artists.

Several years ago, I was at a conference hosted by a local chamber. Pace was sitting at a table next to mine in her graceful and elegant manner. I wanted to go up to her and thank her for Artpace and her devotion to the arts. Did I do it? No, I figured, I’d do it another day. Of course, the day never came.

It is time for all of us who love San Antonio and who believe in our dynamic future to find a way to thank and pay homage to the late and wonderful Linda Pace. She taught us the Art of Giving, the greatest gift of all. It is now our time to give back.

“For ArtPace to thrive beyond my lifetime, however, it will need the dreams of many. I am eager to see what those visions are, and to watch them move us all forward.”

Linda Pace, 2003

Pace knew the creative spirit lived in every individual and that it needed to be nourished.

— Jeanne Klein

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