Brenau University is expected to add more than 2,000 works of art to its collection with the pending acquisition of assets belonging to a New York foundation that’s been keeping alive the legacy of artists John Heliker and Robert LaHotan.
In addition, Brenau would acquire property on Great Cranberry Island in Maine where Heliker and LaHotan lived and welcomed other artists to work at their studios on the island.
All told, Brenau would gain almost $3 million in assets from the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, if approved by the office of the New York Attorney General, which oversees charitable and nonprofit organizations in the state and the distribution of their assets.
The works of Heliker and LaHotan have been been displayed in major museums and private collections.
Negotiations by the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation began in earnest almost two years ago when Brenau President Ed Schrader came in contact with their work and arranged a showing at the Sellars Gallery on the Gainesville campus.
Reached in Maine by phone Friday, Foundation Executive Director Patricia Bailey said Schrader was instrumental in setting the wheels in motion for the deal to get done.
“It all got started because he loved their work,” Bailey said.
Bailey said the key for board members was Brenau’s willingness to accept the entire archive of artwork, and to continue the residency program for artists on Great Cranberry Island.
“It’s a very inspiring place for artists,” Bailey said.
In a statement by Brenau, Schrader said that Robert Shippey, senior director of development at Brenau, will oversee the new Heliker-LaHotan Institute of Art at Brenau.
Shippey told The Times on Friday that Schrader introduced him to Bailey, who he said has “become a friend of the institution.”
“We have been talking since October 2015,” Shippey said. “We have been working diligently on the agreement since 2016.”
Shippey said that while others were interested in portions of the Heliker-LaHotan collection, Brenau was the only one offering to keep the art and papers, and to keep the residency program at Great Cranberry.
Bailey said 2018 would be a transition year as Brenau takes over the residency program at Great Cranberry. She said that under the terms of the agreement she will be a consultant for Brenau next year.
“It’s been a long process,” Bailey said.