A notable Oklahoma City philanthropist is checking items off her “bucket list” with a donation of art to Oklahoma City University.
Bobbie Burbridge Lane, president of The Burbridge Foundation, last weekend dedicated a collection of 13 works of art from The Burbridge Foundation's collection to the university in honor of seven of her special friends.
“It's about thanking people for standing by me, for mentoring me, or being real true friends,” Lane said. “I just think it's terrible to not, before you die, let the people who have done and meant the most to you know in some huge way.”
The donated artworks are large oil-on-canvas pieces that are featured in the university's Dulaney-Browne Library and the Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center.
The special friends in honor of whom Lane dedicated the donation are Gladys and Morrison Tucker, Josephine Freede, Helen Ford Wallace, Joyce and George McDonnold and Robert Henry, OCU president.
At the dedication ceremony, Lane shared personal stories about each honoree and what they meant to her and her family at different parts of her life. Her daughter, Dianne Lane Beffort, and her son, Wes Lane, attended, as did her granddaughter, Molly Beffort.
Each of the art pieces donated to OCU has a religious theme, Lane said, in keeping with the university's United Methodist ideology. The pieces include a 17th century Dutch School painting titled “St. John the Evangelist,” “The Wise Men Follow the Star” by J.V.R. Patch, “Jesus with Pilate,” a French School work titled “Moses Striking the Rock,” and “Jesus with Woman at the Well.”
These paintings represent a small group of The Burbridge Foundation's larger collection.
The collection was acquired over many years by Lane's father, Robert Oscar Burbridge. An inventor and entrepreneur, Burbridge was a successful stock trader, invented the “Tamperpruf” security badge system developed the photo booth and cornered the market in decal manufacturing. In the 1950s, he began collecting art.
“It is the most fabulous art I've ever seen in my life. Daddy just poured his whole life into it for years and years and years,” Lane said. He loved decorative art of the 19th century.
“He had buyers in major auction houses all over the world. He didn't just get art. He got the best of the best art,” Lane said.
But it was all about the hunt for him. He would buy a piece, make sure it arrived to Oklahoma City in good condition, then pack it away in a warehouse, where it stayed until the '90s, Lane said.
When Burbridge died in 1994 and Lane became president of the foundation, she decided to sell the collection of more than 4,000 works in a Sotheby's auction in order to raise funds for the foundation's work. In the wake of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing in 1995, Lane said she wanted to bring the foundation's charity work from a national and international focus back to the community in which her family had the strongest ties.
She credits Wallace, who writes the Parties Etc. column for The Oklahoman and the related Parties Extra blog for NewsOK.com, with convincing her to hold on to some of the collection for the foundation instead of selling it all in the Sotheby's auction, a move that made the OCU donation possible. Lane kept about 1,000 of the family's favorite items from the collection for the foundation.
The remaining items from the collection reside in the Burbridge family's homes and in a warehouse in central Oklahoma, Lane said.