Annual Report 2015 | From the Friends Board President
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From the Friends Board President

It was 2008. I had only lived in Durham a short amount of time. In many ways, my wife and I were still getting settled. We were busy with work, but had already made lots of wonderful new friends. We were discovering lots of the things that we love about living here. It included trips to the Farmer’s Market, old movies at the Carolina Theatre and attending concerts at American Tobacco. We also discovered the Nasher.


It truly was a discovery for us. We had moved here from Boston, and as a young married couple had ample opportunity to travel. Our experiences with the visual arts were almost always brief, intense experiences—long afternoons at the Museum of Fine Arts, a single day at the Tate Modern, a long weekend with stops at the MOMA, the Whitney and the Guggenheim. Now, settled in a new place, I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with one museum, one place, and experience works in different exhibitions and in communication with other, different works over time.


What started with repeated visits to Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool and weekly visits to experience Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet, led to a deeper appreciation and enjoyment. I started to develop favorite artists, like Dario Robleto and Mickalene Thomas. I started to develop favorite works within the Nasher’s collection, like Barkley Hendricks’ Wonder Woman and Jimmy Lee Sudduth’s Rooster. I began to visit and participate as much as I could. Eventually I was invited to join the Friends Board. The museum came to be part of what I loved about my adopted hometown. As my wife and I had children, we made sure that time at the Nasher is woven in to their lives, that they can experience a place that is so special because of the generosity, commitment and passion of so many different people

Sappenfield family

It was therefore a special and meaningful gift to be able to be the president of the Friends Board during Nasher10. Watching the installation of the Odita murals both at the museum and downtown was a wonderful opportunity. What a wonderful symbol of the connection between the museum and the community. What a great choice of artist and subject matter to highlight what makes the Nasher special. To me, the Nasher Block Party in October was a very “Durham” event. It may have been a rainy day in a parking garage, but there were lots of friends and laughs by people who found a way to celebrate. We also had an unexpectedly great view of Odita’s Time Bridge.


Richard Mosse’s The Enclave was a great choice for an exhibition as part of the anniversary. The subject matter is so difficult, yet the execution of the work is so brilliant. Having it at the Nasher means that I have had chances to experience it both during quiet mornings and bustling Thursday nights. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with it and let my thoughts about it develop. Another one of my favorite memories of 2015 was listening to Blake Byrne talk his way through the exhibition of his collection, Open This End. It was a unique and special opportunity to hear from a distinctive voice about his collection and collecting. I only wish he had his own radio show.


Speaking of wonderful experiences, the Friends Board meetings and the chance to speak with its members have been a joy. The individual members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but all share a passion for helping both this museum and this community. We are all better off because of their investment and commitment.


Henry Sappenfield
President, Nasher Museum Friends Board