Courtesy of Sharyn and Bruce Charnas

Faces of Philanthropy: Sharyn and Bruce Charnas

November 19, 2018

LACMA’s Art Council members play an integral role in supporting the museum’s curatorial departments and make a lasting impact on LACMA’s legacy by helping realize special projects and acquire artworks that strengthen LACMA’s permanent collection. Art Council members have enabled the museum to acquire nearly 10,000 objects! This growth would be impossible without the support of these philanthropists, as the museum does not have a dedicated acquisitions endowment to develop the museum’s collection.

Art Council members share a deep affinity for the arts and a sense of inspiration and personal fulfillment through their philanthropic support of LACMA. Members enjoy connecting with curatorial staff and like-minded art enthusiasts through a variety of stimulating, thoughtful, and entertaining programs.

For a glimpse into LACMA’s Art Councils, we partnered with a few members to highlight their experiences. Read on for the last interview in this mini-series.

Sharyn and Bruce Charnas, members of LENS: Photography Council (LENS)

How did you first get involved at LACMA and why?

My husband Bruce and I are photography collectors. We enjoy being part of the arts community. Ten years ago, we had just moved down from Northern California where we had been long time members of Photo Forum, a photography council that was part of SFMoMA. A friend introduced us to LACMA curator Britt Salvesen. She mentioned LENS and we never looked back. I might add that having grown up in L.A., LACMA had long been a considerable presence in our lives.

What do you enjoy most about the being a part of LENS?

Being members of LENS has been a fantastic experience for us. It affords us many opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have. The studio visits are especially helpful to us as collectors, introducing us to new work and to emerging and established photographers, as well as informing and educating us in ways we could not duplicate. It’s been especially enjoyable getting to know LACMA’s photography staff and curators, all of whom are truly extraordinary. It’s also been a pleasure getting to know our fellow LENS members and connecting to a larger community of like-minded people.

What role does philanthropy serve in your life?

I can’t think of a more rewarding experience than sharing the thing you feel most passionate about with others. In terms of philanthropy, for us, collecting has never been about acquisition for investment. Our collection is entirely promised and destined for donation, and we enjoy supporting artists and institutions whenever possible, and in whatever small ways we can.  

What are your philanthropic priorities this year and how does your LENS membership fit into this picture?

LENS is a staple in our lives and thus a financial given. It’s a way to support LACMA and enrich our experience of photography. Our other philanthropic priorities are fluid and opportunistic. As LENS has been invaluable to us, we will continue to explore other LACMA council opportunities.  There is no doubt; LACMA is playing an increasingly important and satisfying role in our lives.

Who would you recommend to join one of LACMA’s art councils?

I would unhesitatingly urge anyone who’s interested in art to join one of LACMA’s art councils as a way to deepen and enrich their personal experience with art, and to create new opportunities for direct interaction with the arts community. It’s a wonderful way to broaden art’s importance in one’s life. It will yield rewards that will long resonate. 

Who in your life do you share LACMA with?

We very much enjoy sharing and experiencing LACMA with friends and family. When we’ve seen a particularly stimulating exhibition we will want to go back for a second viewing and we’ll try to include someone else that we feel might appreciate it as well. Art is so very much a communal experience.

If you are interested in joining LACMA’s community of Art Council members in their art adventures while providing essential support to the museum’s curatorial departments and expanding permanent collection, we invite you to fill out this form and we’ll be in touch! You can also visit the Art Councils webpages to learn more about these vital patron groups and how you can join. With seven Art Councils to choose from, there is an opportunity for any art enthusiast looking for a deeply engaging experience with art to find their niche.

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