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The Collective Life of Charles Rand Penney: Program & Book Signing

“Charles Rand Penney never thought his life was extraordinary until he began interviewing for [this] book. He had taken for granted that he grew up on ‘Millionaires Row’ in Buffalo. He thought he was just like everyone else who studies and strives to learn.”

Those are the words of Avis Townsend, who will be signing copies of her book “The Collective Life of Charles Rand Penney,” tomorrow (Oct 1) at 2pm at the Penny Gallery in Lockport (24 Church).

Through her interesting and informative work, Townsend tells a story of great contradictions. Charles Penney was a man that was recognized in many circles around the world, while locally having the ability to walk down the street and be virtually unrecognized. Townsend chronicled the entire life of a man of means who was a local attorney, world traveler, voracious collector and amazing philanthropist.

Penney began collecting at a young age when he received the gift of his first painting from his Sunday school teacher, regional artist Robert Blair. From that, Penney’s collection grew to include over 100,000 items comprising countless different themes.  Not satisfied to keep all of the items for himself, Penney set about donating many items in his vast collection to various cultural institutions around the world. Local benefactors include the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo and The Penney Gallery in Lockport, which bear his name, along with the Buffalo Museum of Science and the Castellani Museum at Niagara University. All told, these organizations join a list of over 30 recipient organizations that span the globe.

-ariel peters