In Memory of Rev. Al Shands

By Jenny Zeller

Al Shands photographed at his Great Meadows estate with a Juame Plensa sculpture, one of many outdoor installations that double as meditations on nature. Courtesy of the Courier Journal, from Jan 2, 2015.

Like so many in the community, Bernheim mourns the recent passing of arts advocate, collector, and philanthropist, Rev. Al Shands. It’s hard to think of anyone who has contributed more to local artists and the regional arts and cultural community than this great man. His love and passion for the arts was contagious and it was a special treat to visit Great Meadows, experience his latest acquisitions and hear him speak about art and the creative process.

In recent years, Shands created the Great Meadows Foundation as a way to elevate and strengthen the local arts ecosystem. Through the foundation, artists and art curators are awarded the opportunity to travel beyond the region to see important exhibitions, connect with other artists and arts organizations, that can critically benefit their creative practice. I am fortunate to have received several Curator Travel grants from Great Meadows Foundation and these life-changing opportunities provided accessibility to people and places that have greatly informed the arts program at Bernheim. And I am certainly not alone. Great Meadows Foundation has encouraged the regional arts community to be more aware of what’s happening around the world, given us the confidence to reach out to those previously unknown to us and to bring back that information for sharing with the regional arts community, making us all stronger as a result.

Al Shands was a supporter, member, and enthusiastic advocate for arts at Bernheim. He served on our Artist in Residence panel for several years and often attended events where he could engage with artists and discover how the natural world inspired their work. Al Shands is a true pillar to the arts community, we are all better because of him and he will be greatly missed!

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