By Grace Kuikman & Olivia DeSmit
Sid Hamper, president emeritus of the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, passed away August 25, at the age of 92. Sid and his wife of 70 years, Grace Hamper, have lived and raised their four children in the same house in Beverly for over 50 years. Sid’s contribution to one of Beverly/Morgan Park’s most important institutions should not go unnoticed.
For more than three decades, Sid Hamper was a tireless steward of one of Beverly/Morgan Park’s most cherished institutions, the VAA collection of 19th and 20th century American art.
The outstanding Vanderpoel art collection is named for Dutch-born artist John H. Vanderpoel who lived in North Beverly while teaching at the School of the Art Institute.
Following the artist’s death in 1911, community residents took up a collection and purchased Vanderpoel’s painting “The Buttermakers.” In 1914 the painting was placed in Vanderpoel School as a tribute to the artist for whom the school – and the street where it is located — was named. It was later decided that a memorial collection of works would be an even better honor. Vanderpoel was beloved by his students, many of whom were eager to donate their works to the collection.
Many of the paintings in the collection were donated by artists or owners. When the collection had grown too large to be housed in the school’s gallery, a new wing was built on the Ridge Park fieldhouse, creating a permanent home for the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association collection.
The Hampers were recruited to the VAA through a friend, the late George Ralston, who recognized their talents. As lovers of art and their community, Sid, along with his wife Grace, committed their time and many talents, Sid as treasurer, president and president emeritus, and Grace as a volunteer and curator.
Ralston was right: The Hampers’ dedication to the VAA was unmatched.
Sid joined the VAA in 1992, following his retirement from a successful career at the Chicago Board of Trade and as a lawyer in private practice. He was a teenager when he started working as a runner at the CBOT, and in the early 1950s became a trader and served ten years as a director. In 1958, Sid earned a law degree. In addition to this career as a trader, he opened a law practice with a partner.
Sid’s expertise in finance and law were pivotal in raising funds needed to protect the Vanderpoel Art Association collection in perpetuity. He cultivated donors whose generous gifts made it possible to provide for the future of the collection and to underwrite important art conservation efforts, including the cleaning and restoration of about 30 art works.
At the gallery almost every day for many years, Sid also dedicated important time to research and myriad other important tasks that illuminate, protect, and benefit the art collection. Many people – from the community and beyond – recognize the Hampers as the faces of the Vanderpoel collection.
In 2019, BAPA presented the Hamper’s with the Community Service Award to thank them for their important work.
Mary Jo Viero, executive director of BAPA said, “It was a privilege to honor Sid and Grace for their decades of work. I am so grateful and will miss him. He was a gem.”