Within six years of moving to Shenectady, N.Y. in 1956, architects Werner Feibes and James Schmitt launched a community newspaper, The Stockade Spy, and secured the state’s first-ever historic district designation, for their chosen neighborhood The Stockade. The couple married in 2013, two months before Schmitt’s death, and at this summer’s close, their very large local legacy continues to grow.
On the couple’s behalf, Feibes has donated 55 works of modern art to The Hyde Collection in Glen Falls. The museum has described this generosity as a “transformational gift,” with plans to fully integrate the works into the exhibits schedule by next year. From a report by Albany Times Union staff writer Paul Grondahl:
Feibes said Schmitt caught “the collecting bug” first and soon both became “great art lovers” whose background in modern architecture drew them to contemporary, non-representational modern art that was focused on form and color rather than human figures or landscape scenes.
The men eventually got an apartment in the Bronx so they could spend weekends in New York City, scouting galleries for new acquisitions. They’d load up their purchases in a high-mileage Volvo station wagon and drive back to Schenectady.
The collection steadily grew and they became well-known among major collectors of modern art.
Indeed, over the years both Christie’s and Sotheby’s had inquired about brokering the sale of Feibes-Schmitt collection items. The gift represents one third of the couple’s accumulated works; the remainder, more than 100 pieces, will be bequeathed to The Hyde upon Feibes’ death.