Donor Story

The Legacy of a Father’s Love

Albert Anella Gifts Art Collection to UNM Health Sciences Center in Daughter’s Memory

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted May 16, 2016

Editor’s note: The newsletter in which this article first appeared was printed and mailed in late fall 2015; Albert Anella passed away on March 3, 2016 at the age of 93.

The heartache of losing a young child is an enduring emotion. Strive as they may to find meaning or reason, families are forever changed. Albert A. (Al) Anella is now in his 90s, and he still misses his daughter, Mia. “She was absolutely beautiful, and she had spunk,” Al recalled. “She changed my whole life. You can’t get over those things, and you really don’t want to.”

Albert Anella poses in front of two of the prints he gifted to the HSC Art Collection, a Salvador Dali print at left and a Pablo Picasso print. Photo: Connie Lowther

Albert Anella poses in front of two of the prints he gifted to the HSC Art Collection, a Salvador Dali print at left and a Pablo Picasso print. Photo: Connie Lowther

Years later, Al’s abiding love for Mia and his lifelong love of art were channeled into philanthropic activity. He generously supported the acquisition of Italian Renaissance paintings at the UNM Art Museum in the mid 1980s. Recently, he donated 48 artworks from his personal collection to the UNM Health Sciences Center. Both collections are dedicated to Mia’s memory.

As a young man, Al joined the U.S. Army and fought with an artillery company in North Africa during World War II. He formed a friendship with a fellow soldier, Sam Smith. Sam, a talented painter, had dropped out of Albuquerque High School to apprentice with several of New Mexico’s master artists before enlisting. He regaled Al, a native New Yorker, with stories about the beauty of his home state. Their friendship survived beyond the war, and they reconnected when Al moved to New Mexico to attend the UNM School of Law.

“My doctors told me to go out west, because I had allergies,” Al stated, “and I knew that if I ever came here I would see Sam again. I love New Mexico,” he continued, “the people, just everything about it. I met my wife here; my two sons and my daughter were born here.” Al joined his father-in-law in real estate ventures, and immersed himself in the artistic culture of New Mexico. Sam served as a professor of art at UNM, and his paintings were collected widely.

Over the years, Al acquired many paintings and prints including works by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera. Thanks to personal introductions through Sam, Al also built a substantial collection of pieces by New Mexico artists.

“We are honored that Mr. Anella has chosen to give so generously to the Health Sciences Center Art Collection,” said Stephen McKernan, CEO of UNM Hospitals. “We rely on gifts of art, whether one piece or multiple works, to build our collection. Since 1991, we have been able to serve our community by placing more than 3,000 artworks in 26 academic and clinical facilities.”

Lifting the spirits of patients, their friends and families is part of the reason for Al’s gift. “Mia spent so much time in the hospital,” he explained. “Many patients get up and walk, and it’s good for them to see art in the hallways.”

For more great stories like this, please click here.