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South Florida man's passion for the arts still vibrant after over 50 years of philanthropy: Miami Proud

South Florida man remains committed to his art: Miami Proud
South Florida man remains committed to his art: Miami Proud 03:13

CORAL GABLES - Sheldon Palley, a distinguished philanthropist and a proud alumnus of the University of Miami, remains unwavering in his dedication to the arts, even after more than half a century of philanthropic endeavors.

 Alongside his late wife, Myrna, also a University of Miami graduate, the Palley's commitment to South Florida's arts scene has left an indelible mark on numerous cultural organizations.

Sheldon Palley
Sheldon Palley CBS News Miami

"She was also a graduate of the university and was an art major and really the driving force behind this through a lot of the things in the community," Palley said. "She was on the board, the beginning the board of the New World School of the Arts and was on the board until her passing in 2020."

Their support extended to a wide range of arts organizations, including the Miami Film Festival, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and The Education Fund. 

"What was really important is that when we came here in the early 1950s, this was a very, very small southern town, very one-sided, and we have stayed with it and watched it grow, and watched all these institutions like YoungArts, the symphony, the film festival, and the museums come and grow, and it's truly been a wonder.," he said.

Sheldon is most passionate about The Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami campus. 

Since the 1970s, Myrna and Sheldon amassed a remarkable collection of studio art glass, numbering over 300 pieces. In 2007, they generously donated this collection, which is now housed in the Myrna and Sheldon Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts at the Lowe Art Museum.

Their motivation was clear.  

"We have enjoyed it through the years and we would like everybody else to enjoy it as well, to see what can be done with glass as an art form," he said.

Jill Deupi, art director of the Lowe Museum, said The couple's generosity knows no end.

"What impressed me so deeply was not only their commitment to glass, to the Lowe, to artists, but also to education, to children, to students, and to the community," Deupi said. "Their philanthropy really has touched so many parts of our community here in Miami-Dade County."

In a recent act of generosity, Sheldon Palley donated to a new free exhibition at the Lowe titled "Order Up: The Pop Art of John Miller."

This exhibition features 35 oversized 1950s glass sculptures of food, drinks, and condiments. It includes his family's glass sculpture of a potato chip bag and chips, which bears the name M&S Palley Chip Co., established in 1956, the year he and Myrna were married.

CBS News Miami's Lisa Petrillo asked him how he feels about all of the organizations he and his wife have helped through their philanthropic legacy.

"I'm very, I'm very proud, and it's really nice to see that everybody can enjoy what we have enjoyed and to see what can be done," he said.

As he continues to contribute to South Florida's art organizations, it's evident that Sheldon Palley's passion for the arts remains as vibrant as ever. The "Order Up" exhibition is open through Jan. 14, offering visitors a delightful journey through the world of art and glass.

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