$900,000 gift will support UC Riverside’s downtown arts center
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Longtime philanthropist and arts benefactor Henry W. Coil Jr. has made a bequest pledge of $900,000 to support the UC Riverside Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in downtown Riverside. The gift is one of the largest the University of California, Riverside has received to support arts programs.
The atrium of the Culver Center has been named the Coil Brothers Atrium, “a fitting tribute to Henry Coil’s personal contributions to the arts and UCR” as well as to the lives of his brothers, the late Horace O. Coil, the late James L. Coil and John M. Coil of Santa Ana, said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
“This is a major gift, which acknowledges Henry’s belief in the importance of arts and cultural activities in the community and at UC Riverside,” said Jonathan Green, executive director of UCR ARTSblock, a facility that incorporates the Culver Center, the Sweeney Art Gallery and the California Museum of Photography (UCR/CMP).
“The Culver Center is also a significant architectural presence in Riverside, and Henry’s gift reflects his deep involvement in restoring some of Riverside’s finest historical buildings. By naming the Coil Brothers Atrium, Henry extends and enhances his contributions to arts and to architecture in Riverside.”
Coil, past president of Tilden-Coil Constructors Inc., is a founding director of UCR/CMP who served on the advisory board during the museum’s early years alongside famed photographer Ansel Adams. Today, UCR/CMP is a world-class museum with the largest, most comprehensive holding of any photographic collection in the western half of the United States and the second-largest in the nation.
“Not many people know that Henry is quite a photographer,” Green added. “Henry has been a part of CMP and everything that’s happened here in the last 25 years. His continued generosity over more than three decades has provided critical support to both the UCR/CMP and the Sweeny Art Gallery, both of which complement the Culver Center of the Arts.”
“As a businessman and general contractor, Henry Coil has literally helped build much of the physical infrastructure of greater Riverside,” Cullenberg said. “Now, with his donation in support of the Culver Center, as well as his support for the Riverside Community College District’s school for the arts, Henry has become someone who is profoundly impacting the artistic and creative lives of Riverside.”
The Coil Brothers Atrium is the key gathering space in UCR ARTSblock, hosting dance and musical performances, art exhibitions, workshops and large community gatherings, said Tyler Stallings, artistic director of the Culver Center and director of UCR Sweeney Art Gallery. ARTSblock continues to be “a bridge between the university and the community,” he said.
Born in Riverside, Coil earned his engineering degree at UC Berkeley and a law degree from Western State University in Fullerton, Calif. His father, Henry Coil Sr., was a prominent local attorney and his mother, Alice Edna, was an accountant. He joined the construction firm Marshall Tilden — established in 1938 — in 1971. Coil said his support of the arts stems from his belief that the arts are essential to create a vibrant community.
“If we didn’t have art in its various forms, we would have a stale community,” he said. “Art is also a way of getting many people involved in the community in activities they enjoy, and encourages commitments of time and money.”
Coil has made a significant impact on the city of Riverside through his philanthropy, volunteerism and commitment to the arts. He has served on the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees since 1982, serving as board chair from 1999 to 2001.
He has won numerous awards and has served on the boards of many community organizations, including the Riverside Arts Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Community Foundation, the Mission Inn Foundation, the Boy Scouts, the Carolyn E. Wylie Center for Children, Youth and Families, and the national Council for Resource Development, which named him a Benefactor of the Year in 2011 as one of the top 10 philanthropists in the country for their support of community colleges. He served on the Riverside City Council between 1963 and 1967.
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