Carolyn Alper passed away on April 25, 2020 at the age of 92. Artist, Decorator, and Philanthropist, Alper will be remembered as a pillar of the D.C. art scene and local Jewish community, who could be spotted darting between art openings and craft shows in a Smart Car into her nineties.
A third generation Washingtonian, Alper was born to Lillian and Albert Small on October 1, 1927. After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School, she studied pre-med at Syracuse University. In 1972, she received her degree in art history at American University. She married Morton Alper DDS in 1947 and the couple divorced in the mid-70's. She later travelled extensively with longtime companion Milton Mulitz.
In the 1950's and 1960's, she studied painting under Morris Louis and Gene Davis, who were part of a group of abstract expressionists known as the Washington Color School. In the 1970's, she co-founded the Foundry Studio and Gallery, a cooperative women's art group, which showcased her paintings in exhibits. Alper later became a certified interior designer, helping young couples design contemporary residences for 25 years.
In Spring 2015, Alper generously donated a gift to American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center to support DC-based artist.
“We are committed to our community, and I think that’s what’s made us a success so far,” he says. “When you come to the museum, you’re greeted by a member of the community. Our volunteers are members of the community—and in our programming, we always include Washington artists. This is something that no other museum does.” Said Jack Rasmussen
She became an avid collector of contemporary art and later served as a trustee of the Phillips Collection, The Renwick Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Federal Reserve Art Collection and the Washington Project for the Arts. She supported and frequented the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. She was particularly proud of creating and underwriting the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, which sponsors gallery shows that highlight local artists and arts programming at American University. Alper also contributed to and served on the board of the Lillian & Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum. As a dedicated member of The Washington Hebrew Congregation, she traveled to Germany last year to oversee the completion of a mosaic she commissioned and helped design that is now featured in the main sanctuary.