An introduction to appreciating art, with a little help

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Benjamin Louis Wald did his best in January 2015 to put some art in his life, then Jacqueline Rebecca Spar stepped in.

“A mentor suggested that I keep as much work-life balance as possible,” said Mr Wald, 31, who often worked 12 hours a day and traveled to Europe, usually London, at least one day. times a month as an associate in the office of the President and CEO of BlackRock in New York. He is now vice-president of its alternative investments division.

He first tried a pottery class, then emailed the Jewish Museum in New York about his Young Patrons Program. When Ms. Spar responded, he was too busy to follow up. So a few weeks later, she nudged him again.

“It was my job to bring people like Ben into the world of art and the Jewish Museum,” said Ms. Spar, 35, a New School graduate who had just started working in the art department. great museum gifts to create the program focused on Jewish art and culture.

At the end of March, she met Mr. Wald at BlackRock to discuss the program over tea in a conference room, and he became one of the first members.

“I am so grateful that she was so good at her job,” said Quinnipiac University graduate Mr. Wald.

In June, he traveled to the Hamptons to join the group for lunch with a contemporary art collector. In early fall, two hours before he left for London, he showed up for a private tour and a cocktail at the museum.

“He showed up for almost everything,” she said, including Shabbat dinners coinciding with new exhibitions. “He wasn’t Ben to me, it was Ben Wald,” explaining that their relationship was strictly professional.

In June 2017, after she left the museum to become senior director of institutional partnerships for the artsy website Artsy in New York City, they started calling each other and eventually became good friends while hanging out with others. people.

“Every time I spoke to him he left a smile on my face,” said Ms Spar, who sometimes met him for lunch and loved to talk to him on her travels in London. (She was born there and spent her early childhood there.)

In December 2017, when they were both single, she joked that maybe she could date each other.

“We both took a break,” she said.

They discussed it over lunch before he left on a four-day business trip in January.

“Can I officially take you out when I get back?” He asked and took an early flight home.

After breakfast in Dublin, he had lunch in London and had dinner with her at an Italian restaurant near Columbus Circle in New York.

“It was our first date, but probably the hundredth time we’ve sat down for a meal together,” he said.

They kissed goodnight as she got in a cab back to Chelsea and decided to have dinner downtown the following evening.

“I didn’t think of it as a second date,” she said. “It was a continuation of our lives together.”

Before moving in with her in May 2019, they arranged for their parents, who had met in passing, to officially meet at a restaurant in Millburn, NJ (he grew up in Livingston, she 10 minutes away in Short Hills.)

A week earlier, his mother had texted him a simple photo – his parents arm in arm outside the Jewish Museum. They met at the Leonard Cohen exhibit.

On February 16, 2020, Mr Wald made his request on their roof with his paternal great-grandmother’s ring.

A week before the coronavirus pandemic shook the world, they planned to get married at the Glenmere Mansion in Chester, NY

“We decided to have him no matter what, even if it was just us and our parents,” said Ms Spar, who takes the groom’s name.

“Where it all began,” said the back of their invitations with an imprint of the Warburg Mansion, which houses the Jewish Museum.

On May 22, Rabbi Joshua Stanton officiated in front of 115 vaccinated guests, who received rapid Covid tests, while 150 others watched the ceremony live. Later, the guests enjoyed s’mores and a surprise fireworks display.


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