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Lewis and Hurwitz to Co-Chair Friends of Art Program

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Like a good friend, art is something you come to appreciate, respect and support. At the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, which boasts one of the largest collections of art in the region, art and friendship go hand in hand.

Lisa Lewis, Jacqueline Stoneberger, Edward Brohel and Sara Hurwitz Now in its third year, the Friends of Art Program at SUNY Plattsburgh began as a means to raise community awareness of, as well as provide unrestricted funds for, the Plattsburgh State Art Museum. The program is now enhanced by the work of two dedicated volunteers, Sara Hurwitz as chairperson and Lisa Lewis as honorary chairperson.

The Friends of Art Program was first developed in 2001 by the Office of Institutional Advancement in collaboration with Edward Brohel, director of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum. Jacqueline Stoneberger, director of foundation giving, was given the responsibility of managing the initiative until the program was ready to take on independent status through a volunteer committee.     

"I have full confidence in both Ms. Lewis and Mrs. Hurwitz," said Stoneberger. "They have a superb knowledge of art, and they understand how important the Plattsburgh State Art Museum is to both the College and the community."

Lewis, the wife of SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling, said she was more than happy to participate in the Friends of Art Program.

"I was elated to take on this responsibility because the art world is very familiar to me," she said.

Both Lewis's mother and sister are working artists, and she grew up in university towns where art was prominent. In addition, she has co-written four books for middle school students about art, and she was a member of the Board of Trustees of the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, N.D. 

Members of the Friends of Art Program take part in several activities and events. Some of these include luncheons at the beginning of each new exhibit when participants receive a tour of the exhibition given by Brohel or the curator of the exhibit. The group also participates in cultural safaris, which are educational field trips to public and private art collections.

In an effort to invite the community to the museum, the group also develops certain special projects. Presently, members are discussing the possibility of providing lighting for some of the outdoor sculptures at the College and creating signs that will help direct people in the community and visitors from outside the area to the museum.

According to Hurwitz, one of the Friends Of Art Program's main messages is that all people can appreciate art.

"It is important that the community feels welcome to take advantage of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum," said Hurwitz. "Art appreciation should not be limited to where we live and who we know. Instead, art is simply a communication from the artist to the audience, whoever that may be."

Lewis agrees that an appreciation for the visual arts is important to the community.

"The most significant thing about art is that it fosters critical thinking," she said. "By embracing art, our perspectives are either reinforced or changed. Pieces of art also serve as historical markers of different civilizations. They are venues of storytelling, and they teach us about the social issues faced in the artist's time."

The Friends of Art will be undertaking a membership drive in July.

"Those who are already members are asked to maintain their leadership and advocacy," said Hurwitz. "Those who are not yet members of the Art Museum family are encouraged to join in. Your contribution, at any of several different levels, will be a gift that keeps on giving."

For more information about the Friends of Art Program at SUNY Plattsburgh, contact Jacqueline Stoneberger at the Office of Institutional Advancement at 518-564-2090.

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