Labor of Love
The Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery Makes Art an Attraction at Lubin House

Lubin House is New York City’s window on Syracuse University. A complex of two adjacent 19th-century buildings on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the facility originated with Joseph I. Lubin’s gift to the University of the building at 11 East 61st Street in 1964. It has since grown to serve a number of vital functions for SU, providing offices and meeting space for admissions, alumni relations, and development activities, as well as classrooms for SU’s burgeoning New York City academic programs. The University has also made it a cultural center, offering lectures, readings, musical concerts, dance recitals, and art exhibitions.

Louise Beringer Palitz ’44 and Bernard Palitz

At an April dinner attended by Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw and Associate of the Chancellor Mary Ann Shaw, the art exhibition space was officially named the Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery. This is a fitting tribute to SU Trustee Louise Beringer Palitz ’44 and Bernard Palitz, who have, through their many gifts and personal attentions, made the cultivation of the gallery a labor of their love for the arts, art education, and Syracuse University. In so doing they have greatly helped maximize Lubin House’s potential as a showcase for the University.

The Palitzes have, quite literally, put the gallery that now bears their name on the city’s cultural map, funding physical improvements and the publication of exhibition catalogs, and even contributing works from their own collection to its offerings. In 1997, for example, they loaned several original Rembrandt paintings to a Lubin House showing of the Dutch master’s work that was mounted by the University Art Collection. “The results were wonderful,” says Bernard Palitz. “I think what it did was tell everybody—New York City area alumni and the general public—that Syracuse University has this marvelous facility at this perfect location.”

In 2001, the University renovated Lubin House’s entire infrastructure. This created an opportunity to make major improvements in the gallery and give Syracuse a first-class exhibition space within walking distance of the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, the Museum of Modern Art, and a dozen other internationally significant art institutions. As collectors and East Side residents, Louise and Bernard Palitz understood the possibilities that a modernization of the gallery would create for the University, and generously stepped forward with ample support to get the job done.

University Art Collection associate director Domenic Iacono, who has curated many shows at Lubin House, could hardly contain his excitement. “This latest gift from Louise and Bernard Palitz allowed us to turn the gallery into something much more than a pleasant space in a charming old building,” he says. “We are upgrading our environmental systems, hoping to improve our control over temperature and humidity. An advanced lighting system that optimizes viewing conditions, while also protecting delicate materials, has been installed. The new security system, beyond its obvious advantages, will help satisfy insurance requirements and allow us to exhibit works on loan from other institutions. In short, we are preparing the gallery to meet ‘archival standards.’”

Iacono was quick to exploit some of these new features, opening the Palitz Gallery last spring with William Blake at Syracuse, an exhibition that featured 19th-century prints from Blake’s books Songs of Innocence (from the special collections of the University Library) and The Book of Job and Gay’s Fables (both of which are part of the University Art Collection). “The Blake exhibition would not have been possible without the Palitzes,” Iacono says. “The old lighting system could have damaged the fragile colors of these prints.”

Louise Palitz was pleased with the choice of subject for the gallery opening. “I didn’t know the University had those Blake prints, and this is a great way to show them,” she says. A painter in her own right, she developed an interest in art even before coming to study at Syracuse, and her work includes the lobby mural of a major New York office tower. “Today I like to work in oils as well as water-based paints,” she says. “We go up to Maine in the summer and I sit behind Homer Winslow’s studio on the rocks, and I paint the ocean.”

Patti Dombrowski ’79, executive director of Lubin House, says the Palitzes have been a special part of the Lubin House family for as long as she can remember. “I’m personally excited that the Palitz name has a permanent place here,” she says. “Their generosity will enable us to bring important shows to Lubin House and increase the University’s visibility in the New York museum and art community.”

—David Marc





Courtesy of University Art Collection

Courtesy of University Art Collection

Among the works of William Blake on display at Lubin House were Frontispiece (top) and The Voice of the Ancient Bard. Both appear in his book Songs of Innocence.


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