Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Visit with the Kranzbergs

What a thrill to be among a tight knit group of docents and friends of Laumeier Sculpture Park at the home of Ken and Nancy Kranzberg on a beautiful Spring day (April 28, 2016).
In the living room, Ken suggests his wife Nancy start the docent tour of their home in front of a giant photographic portrait of the Kranzbergs by Tina Barney. The tandem described the photo shoot and interaction with the artist. Photographer Tina Barney was born in 1945 in New York and she has been producing large-scale photographs of family, friends and famous since 1975. She has a way of making meticulous chronicles of the complexity of interpersonal relationships. This piece is no exception. Ken suggests, with a smile, that historians will one day assume that he is emblematic of the man of the house with a demure and dutiful wife in the background. It is a self effacing and respectful nod to his wife. The photograph is a wonderful celebration of our hosts in the front hallway of their home. We know Nancy is more likely to front the duo but they are both emphatic champions for artists everywhere. Nancy is especially fond of St. Louis - a place she says is the most culturally rich place in the whole country (per capita).

It is clear every piece of art in the Kranzberg personal collection has a story. We were treated to a wonderful tour that included first piece they ever bought together. They recall fondly how a price tag of $90 seemed excessive at the time. They have since become much more comfortable in their purchases. It is the love of art and artists that drives them more than the investment however.

Every room is a treat of museum quality works of art. The dining room includes a falling man by Ernest Trova, a limited edition serigraph by Andy Warhol and works by self taught St. Louis native Craig Norton, an emerging artist the art critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times described as having an almost freakishly developed skill set. Her recent review summed up with the statement  - It’s hard to know exactly where Mr. Norton will end up, but he is definitely on the way to somewhere. Therein may be a clue as to what motivates patrons of the arts.  

The Kransbergs invited David Kirkland to treat our group to a culinary masterpiece. Over lunch the side bar conversation consisted of a collage of topics – some art, some family, some food and (of course) insights into what it means to support the arts. If artists inspire, the Kranzbergs are inspired and their energy and enthusiasm is highly contagious. We all left that day with a mega dose.  

Recently Ken and Nancy Kranzberg were honored for Excellence in Philanthropy at the St. Louis Arts Awards. Their generosity to more than 500 civic, social and arts organizations and their leadership has created things such as the Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center, and through the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the Northside Workshop. They are noted for not only donating to larger organizations, but a number of smaller organizations as well.

We are inspired and infinitely grateful. Thank you Ken and Nancy Kranzberg!