Sigmund “Sig” Balka, Chair of the Board of Trustees’ Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committee at the Queens Museum of Art, is a graduate of Central High School of Philadelphia, Williams College and Harvard Law School.
Mr. Balka began his professional career serving in the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Currently the Vice President of Public and Cultural Affairs and Executive General Counsel for Krasdale Foods, Mr. Balka also directs Krasdale Galleries, which houses rotating art exhibitions at the company’s facilities in the Bronx and White Plains, New York.
Mr. Balka has played an important role at the American Bar Association and the American Corporate Counsel Association where he has served as Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. He has also served in various offices at the highly selective Committee of Corporate General Counsel of the American Bar Association. He also was instrumental in developing pro bono activities in both organizations and founded “Project Teamwork” with Albert W. Driver, Jr. linking inside counsel with outside counsel in joint pro bono efforts and also was in charge of the ACCA pro bono and diversity initiatives. He also was a member of the art law and general counsel committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
He was elected as a Fellow by both the ABA where he was the only Fellow elected from the Bronx of 757 New York State fellows chosen. Fellows are awarded honors which are given to those who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.
His other professional activities include service on the boards of the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, and the Greater Metropolitan Food Council.
As a civil activist he served as chair of the Society for a Better Bronx and was a member of the environmental task forces, established by both the City and State. His activities in the world of culture include Chair of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Repertory Theater of New York, and founder of the “Havurat Segol”, Williams College New York Alumni Havurah.
In Queens he served on Community Board 6 for over 20 years where he chaired the Economic Development and Law Committees as well as serving as the Chair of the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Directors of the Queens Museum of Art. He is also cooperating on the production of a book titled, “Forest Hills, A Jewish Golden Land”. He resides in Forest Hills and is a member of the West Side Tennis Club.
His focus in the art world includes curating 115 exhibits to date since 1986 as director and COO of the Krasdale Galleries as well as having served on the Board of Directors of the Bronx Council on the Arts for 20 years and served as chair of the Hunts Point Sculpture Park Task Force. He also combines his interest in art and Jewish life as a member of the Board of Directors of the Judaica Museum. Further, he acts as an art exhibition and gifts facilitator for the Yeshiva University Museum and New-York Historical Society, as well as currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Bronx Museum of Art and Advisory Board of the Rutgers University Brodsky Center. His interest in the role of printmaking in fine art led to his election as President of the Print Connoisseurs Society of New York, a position he has held since 1971.
His philanthropic activities include a donation of over 200 works of art to the Williams College Museum of Art where he has served as Chair of the Fellows and a member of the Visiting Committee of the Museum. He also has donated over 200 works of art to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum which are traveling throughout the country. He is the principal benefactor of the Central High School of Philadelphia art department and arranged for exhibitions in Philadelphia and New York of the work of famous art graduates of the school such as Thomas Eakins, John Sloan, Morton Livingston Schamberg, architect Louis Kahn and many other exceptional artists.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College and is currently Vice President of his class. He graduated with fellowships from Harvard Law School and received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
His career as a Renaissance figure is acknowledged by his inclusion in Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.
Mr. Balka’s philanthropy has benefited numerous arts institutions across the country, including the Queens Museum of Art. From his own collection, Mr. Balka has donated Storm, a painting by artist Tamar Hirschl, a print collection by William Sharp, Language Fragments, a collage by Evelyn Eller, and Untitled a digital drawing by Natan Nuchi to the Queens Museum of Art. He has also facilitated the donation of a large number of works of art to the Queens Museum of Art including 138 photographs that comprised the Photography in the Fine Arts exhibition of the 1939 World’s Fair, two Albert Bierstadt drawings from the Tanenbaum family collection, more than 1,000 drawings by artist William Sharp, paintings by Albert Feingold and Christie Scheele, and 35 works by John Sloan.