albert boscov

Earlier this year, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts installed an exhibition called #GoggleArc.  And while some of my older relatives thought there was a pound or number sign in the title, the hashtag meant “GoggleWorks Architecture” and correlated to a category of photographs taken by young artists in the schools surrounding GoggleWorks—a clearinghouse for architecture photography of local buildings that supported a larger exhibition in our Cohen Gallery.

I mention this because I had a chance encounter with some Reading High School students and one conversation particularly gripped me, making me think of the vision and work of the late Albert Boscov, who died on February 10th of this year.

Specifically, I asked one student, “What did you appreciate about this project—taking photos of architecture in and around the city?” Her reply: “I like that it made me look up.”

At first, I didn’t think much of it.  I played guitar and sang songs with the students and focused more on how to get them connected to the arts and to our community at GoggleWorks. Though, as I considered it more, I realized the comment was a metaphor for Mr. Boscov’s original vision for GoggleWorks, as a place for artists to create and the community to imbibe, a place for us all to remove ourselves from our lives, our internal dialogues, our smart phones—literally a place to look up.

Mr. Boscov was a local legend, a magnate, an icon. For GoggleWorks, he was a visionary and continuous supporter.  I only met him a few times, but his last words were so meaningful to me.  He said, “Think very big.” I knew what he meant. Our art center is the largest in the country. Our city is the poorest in the country.  There is no more important place or time to think big. I simply needed to hear that sentiment and there it was for the taking.

I’ve only been the executive director at GoggleWorks for a year. But in that time I’ve learned that big thoughts and big dreams are what make this place a suitable home for the quarter million people that visit here, the hundreds of artists that use this as a playground, and so many more that call this “home.”

We honored Albert Boscov this year for our Tribute Event on May 6th, and we remembered how he doled out Easter from a helicopter, and played on the floor with our children, and how he reminded us to always look up.

– Levi Landis, Executive Director