TRIBUTE TO ALAN HIRSCHFIELD: Altruistic art lover planted strong community roots

By on January 20, 2015
Alan Hirschfield (left) and Terry Winchell.

Alan Hirschfield (left) and Terry Winchell.

A tribute to Jackson Hole resident Alan Hirschfield

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A former Hollywood exec that helped bring us Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Taxi Driver, Jackson Hole resident Alan Hirschfield died at the age of 79 Thursday in his Wilson home. Hirschfield was deeply involved in the Jackson Hole community, as evidenced here by friend and associate, Terry Winchell. – RV

There’s an old adage that if you’re fortunate enough in life to have one good friend, you are lucky. Alan Hirschfield was that special friend. A relationship that ignited because of our mutual love of American Indian art became so much more. Alan was a mentor in many ways. He taught me and encouraged me about the world of business; he was a problem solver, mediator, and great investor who understood how business worked. When it didn’t work, he knew how to fix it.

Alan was above all a humble man, and unless you knew him well you would probably not have been aware of the many random acts of kindness he performed that touched many people. On a larger scale, he was instrumental in forming the Jackson Hole Land Trust, which began many years ago with the Hardeman Ranch and has grown to preserve much of our valley. Alan and his wife Berte’s love of children led to the establishment of the Hirschfield Center for Children, which works with Teton Youth and Family Services to help children and families find their way. His focus on education and love of Native American art manifested further with the Hirschfields’ involvement in the Intertribal Education Community Center at Central Wyoming College. The multipurpose function of this center was a teaching facility and safe haven for Native American students, to study, enjoy and preserve their culture. Alan served on numerous local nonprofit boards, including Center for the Arts, Community Foundation, Climb, Grand Teton Music Festival, where he shared his expertise and love of wine, and was a founding member of the Jackson Hole Wine Auction. Alan’s board expertise extended well beyond the local community too, with seats on many large corporate boards, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Alan had many passions, including a love for fly-fishing on the creeks and rivers of Crescent H. When Alan’s corporate life in the movie business slowed down, he changed his pursuits to collecting Native American Indian art and assembled one of the premier collections of Plains Indian art in private hands. This was the time the two of us had the most fun. We decided a few years back, with the encouragement of Berte, that his collection should forever be preserved in print, which led to a multiyear project of photographing, curating and editing, the publication, Living with American Indian Art. Upon completion of the book, some of the most important artifacts were included in an exhibit “The Plains Indian, Artists of Earth and Sky,” which showed at the Muse du Quai Branly, Paris, France; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO, and soon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

This chase collecting Indian art led us on many fun trips and excursions, mostly to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the annual Indian Market, and many fun dinners, with Alan, Berte, and his mentor Charles Diker and wife Val.

Our most special and memorable times together were Alan’s frequent visits to our antique shop, having lunch, eating chocolates, sharing great stories and solving the world’s problems. Alan was a wonderful, compassionate man, and a great friend, but most of all, he treated everyone with the same special warmth. Happy trails, Alan…we miss you.

Terry Winchell is a 37-year resident of Jackson and owner of Fighting Bear Antiques along with his wife, Claudia.

About Terry Winchell

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