As anyone who’s ever come back to Newfields time and again to visit a favorite painting or shady spot in The Garden can attest, connecting with art and nature can feel like coming home. A home is about more than a collection of familiar objects, of course—it requires a lot of love and care to become a place where everyone feels welcome. Each year, the Newfields Advancement department celebrates someone who has made an immeasurable difference at Newfields through their service. Few have demonstrated this spirit of service with more love and enthusiasm than Fran Hurwitz and her husband, Dr. Roger Hurwitz—the honored recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award.
When Fran and Roger moved to Indianapolis from Los Angeles more than 30 years ago, Fran found herself in search of community, connection, and the opportunity to make a difference. Looking into classes at Indiana University, Fran met Dr. Jim Robinson—then the Curator of Asian Art at the IMA; now curator emeritus—who encouraged her to join the Museum’s docent program. Newfields docents become art history experts and play an important role in educating all those who visit campus. In the months and years that followed, Fran grew increasingly involved with the Museum. She volunteered frequently and became a member of the Board of Trustees. Both Fran and Roger donated funding and their own personal art collections to the Museum and helped to select new art purchases for the collection.
According to Roger, Fran’s contributions to the Museum were their own reward. “Fran’s work with Newfields helped bring her to life,” he said. “It fueled her curiosity and love for art, and she passed that passion on to our children and grandchildren. The IMA has been our source for learning, community, and friendship for decades. But more than that, it has become an important part of our family.”
Fran passed away in 2019, but her family and friends remember how effortlessly she fused her loves of art and life. Fran’s daughter, Valerie Goldblatt, recalls when she was a homesick freshman at Indiana University and her mother advised her to make a visit to the Thomas Hart Benton murals installed on campus. The family had a painting by Benton in their home, and Fran knew her daughter would feel comforted by the familiar paintings. Their son, Dr. Andrew Hurwitz, is an avid collector as well. The Hurwitzes’ generosity enables Newfields to be a place where everyone who visits can feel at home, too.
Decade after decade, Fran and Roger Hurwitz demonstrated the importance of service to Newfields’ mission. They exemplify the special type of relationship that Newfields strives to build with its community: one where giving of one’s time and treasure is deeply appreciated and helps to bring people together. There could not be more deserving recipients of this year’s Distinguished Service Award. We here at Newfields are so grateful for the love and care that Fran and Roger have given to the whole Newfields family.