No individual personifies the Portland arts community more than Arlene Schnitzer. A native Oregonian, she founded and directed the legendary Fountain Gallery of Art from 1961 until 1986. Through the Fountain Gallery, Arlene pioneered a nationwide appreciation for art produced in the Pacific Northwest as she continued to support regional artists and develop a commercial and critical market for their work. In the process, she and her husband, Harold, amassed a major collection of Pacific Northwest art, international glass sculpture, and early Chinese art, much of which is destined for the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum.
Arlene has been a consistent supporter of the arts. She was an early supporter and board member of the Portland Center for the Visual Arts during its life as an influential cutting-edge arts venue. She served on the board of the Oregon Symphony and is perhaps most popularly recognized as the woman whose name graces the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, affectionately known to Portlanders as “The Schnitz.” The City of Portland recognized the Schnitzers’ major gift toward the Portland Center for the Performing Arts by naming the concert hall in her honor.
Arlene has also been in the public eye for decades as a tireless advocate for social causes. From 1968 through 1980, she produced public service television programming, as well as hosted her own program on public broadcasting, taking pride in focusing on controversial social concerns such as homosexuality, child abuse, abortion rights, and the death penalty -- issues that were not widely discussed at the time.
Arlene has received many public service awards, including: