Around the Institute

A Gift for the Ages

June 25, 2022  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO delivered the below remarks at the launch reception and dinner celebrating the Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies at the Aspen Institute on June 25, 2022 in Aspen, CO. Follow him on twitter @DanPorterfield.

Thank you, everyone, for joining us this evening for the official launch of the Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies at the Aspen Institute.

Let me begin by thanking our champions: Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

Their vision and founders’ gift of $11 million made this magnificent Center possible.

I would also like to thank the Resnicks’ wonderful colleague, Bernard Jazzar, whose brilliance, expertise, and curatorial acumen have been instrumental in bringing the vision to life.

Many of you have already experienced Bernard’s remarkable inaugural exhibition, Herbert Bayer: An Introduction. He will have more to say at dinner, but it is truly majestic—and I know that Herbert would be honored at the learning and love with which Bernard brought it into being.

Lynda and Stewart led the way in the creation of this Center, and a large group of friends and supporters then joined them. Please hold your applause until the end as I recognize our major contributors:

  • Troy Carter;
  • Penny and James Coulter;
  • The Crown Family;
  • Idit and Moti Ferder;
  • The Gracias Family;
  • Mark Hoplamazian and Rachel Kohler;
  • Leonard and Judy Lauder;
  • The Penner Family Foundation;
  • The late Michelle Smith;
  • Robert and Gillian Steel; and,
  • Jessica and Chris Varelas

Thank you all. With this outpouring of support, so many friends and colleagues teamed up before the pandemic and then persevered through it all to bring us to this moment.

Let me name a few (and, again, please hold your applause):

My predecessor Walter Isaacson who has taught us all so much about the history and ideals of the Aspen Institute;

Our Board Facilities Committee led by Mark Hoplamazian;

The architects, Jeff Berkus and Roland & Broughton;

The many lenders to Bernard’s exhibition;

Our zoning gurus, Jim Curtis and Jim Pickup;

The construction team of TIS and Richard Stettner;

The Aspen Institute Advancement team, and especially our former EVP Eric Motley—my partner and Lynda’s in helping us develop and present the concept to our supporters;

And, in the city, we had legions of supporters:

Our neighbors and local leaders who testified in support;

And Mayor Torre, the Aspen City Council, and the Historic Preservation Commission—which allowed us to voluntarily designate the Boettcher Seminar Building as historic.

Now you can clap for this Olympian team of teams.

As we gather together here, I’m transported back to one of my first conversations with Lynda in 2018.

She said, “As you get to know the Institute, honey, I think you are going to enjoy learning about a sensational artist named Herbert Bayer.”

A couple days later, after my whole family went on a campus tour with Lynda and Bernard, I was hooked. And floored. And inspired.

I saw how Bayer’s art, his earthworks, and his architecture all stand alone in their beauty—and are all in dialogue with the mountains and the plant life and the Aspen sky.

I saw how form indeed follows function in so much of his work—especially in his design of this campus, a “total work of art.”

With those appreciations, we created a Center with the highest standards for the presentation and preservation of art.

This Center is itself a work of art. It creates a feeling in visitors that connects us to the Institute’s origins and invites us to look forward to all we can be in the future.

I hope you will come to this beautiful gallery many times. Sit with it all. Let it soak through you.

Lynda envisioned all of this. Propelled by her vision, today we go forward with four big goals:

First, to preserve and promote the artistic legacy of that Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer—brought here by our founders Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke;

Second, to activate a previously sleepy area of the campus, making us more accessible to the town, and more exciting to enter, and more inspirational to all;

Third, to connect the Institute more deeply with the greater Aspen community—from school children to the arts groups to the historic preservation community, and more;

And, finally, perhaps most profoundly, by giving us access to our aesthetic heritage—to transform our self-understanding as an Institute and project more powerfully to the world our image and values.

Thank you, Lynda and Stewart, for activating all of us so that we could have, together, a living resource that expresses our identity, captures our creativity, excites our audiences, welcomes our guests, connects us to the town and community of Aspen, and allows us to be, as an Institute, even more relevant for the world of today and tomorrow.

You have given us a gift for the ages, and Herbert would be proud.