Welcome an Angel

Holly Block passed away on October 7, 2017, at the age of 58

A fearless woman with a generous soul; a hard worker and passionate traveler; a brisk networker, occasional provocateur, and creative problem solver; a frank person, loyal comrade, and supportive friend; a cultural catalyst and an untiring advocate for emerging and under-represented artists; this and more was Holly Block.

Since a young age, Holly worked with the conviction that creating, presenting and comprehending art improves people’s lives. And she believed that in order to significantly contribute to the field of culture one has to see beyond what is already visible, to listen to the unheard, to meet those who were absent or even unconcerned with mainstreams. She always went out of her way to be exposed to a diversity of people, languages and forms, as to ideas and cultures of all kinds, which she would eventually expose to others, too. Along the way, she made every effort to circumvent trends and suspend standards of taste. She welcomed difference. She was inquisitive and open-minded. Her casual approach to people and her no-bullshit attitude were inspiring, to me, even if at times daunting, for some.

A while back and for several years, I had the privilege to work closely with Holly at Art in General, where she handed me the keys to the organization so I could do, and redo, and undo as I pleased—if and only if I was conducting numerous studio visits a week, and if and only if we would be meaningfully supporting artists and actively engaging audiences. We collaborated then, and several times again. In the past fifteen years, we shared ideas, meals, trips, secrets and tips. We had fun.

Holly was my mentor and close friend. And while our relationship was a unique one, it was not exclusive. Holly’s love was expansive, her generosity ever embracing. During her intensely lived lifespan, she catalyzed opportunities for dozens of other curators, young and old, and, needless to say, for hundreds of artists in New York and abroad. Most importantly, Holly touched the hearts of many, enriched the minds of plenty. Please take a moment to think about Holly Block, and to welcome her now as an angel, for she will continue accompanying in spirit the personal and professional development for all those she met.

For the past decade, Holly Block was the executive director of The Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City. In her memory, the museum created the Holly Block Director’s Fund. To donate to this fund, click here, or, for inquiries, reach out to Alan Yamahata.