Henry Horowitz receives 2022 Visionary Leadership Award
Canvas of Greenville
by John Jeter
Artisphere founder Henry Horowitz earns accolades for his transformative leadership
Click here to watch the video that accompanies the article from TOWN’s November Giving Issue!
One gorgeous September morning in Greenville, Henry Horowitz calls from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, nestled between Monaco and Nice in the Riviera, during a vacation with his wife, Jamie. After a weekend in Paris, they would return to their hometown, where they’ve lived since 1992 and where he spearheaded Greenville’s premier arts festival.
Before they left for their monthlong vacation, Rick Davis, CEO of Elliott Davis, a Greenville tax and business consultancy, told Henry he had won this year’s Visionary Leader & Lifetime Achievement Award.
With his over-the-top wit, wry chuckle, and endearing humility, Horowitz reacts to the most prestigious Charitable Giving Award and TOWN magazine this way: “What’s wrong with that picture? They got the wrong guy?”
Well, no. Says Davis, “Henry Horowitz is a particularly perceptive leader. This attribute is fundamental to his many contributions to our community.”
One of the biggest: Artisphere, the May arts festival Horowitz spearheaded. The three-day event now draws hundreds of performing, visual, and culinary artists from around the country and tens of thousands of people.
Artisphere’s story began in 2003 when he was chairman of the Metropolitan Arts Council. Mayor Knox White approached him about creating an arts fest. Sure, he decided, why not? After all, he had helped build one in Oklahoma City.
John Warner, a serial entrepreneur, recalled Artisphere’s inception in an interview that aired on South Carolina Public Radio the day before the Horowitzes’ jaunt to Paris. “I remember having lunch with him and him telling me what he was going to create on the canvas of Greenville,” Warner said. “And I told him at the time . . . I said, ‘Henry, you’re going to hear that phrase again, “the canvas of Greenville,” I thought that was so cool.”
Horowitz, who serves as principal and managing partner of Oxford Capital Partners, a real estate firm he cofounded in 1998, says his philanthropic interests started early.
“When I lived in Oklahoma City, I remember the first time, I was in my twenties, and this guy called me, and he said, ‘Henry, do you want to serve on a ballet board?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ And he says, ‘Well, are you going to be a doer, giver, or getter?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to be a giver, I’m 27 years old, so I might be a doer,’ and he says, ‘Henry, we don’t need doers because we have staff. All we need is a giver and a getter.’ And I said, ‘Well, you got the wrong guy.'”
Turns out, Oklahoma City got the right guy and so did Greenville—and the state. He still serves on the board of the South Carolina Arts Commission, which he chaired from 2014 to 2019 . . . the same year he won the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor.
Getting down to business, Horowitz says, “I was very pleased . . . I mean, obviously, it’s a great tribute, and it’s great recognition and something that many people don’t get. So it’s very nice to get people who want to thank you for what you’ve done, whatever one does.”
He says that through his efforts on behalf of the Greenville Symphony, the Peace Center, the ballet, and multiple other arts organizations, he finds his adoptive hometown filled with those who are passionate about doing, giving, and getting.
“One thing about Greenville—I say this all the time, in all seriousness—Greenville is wonderful in many aspects, but one of the aspects of Greenville, unlike some other cities, if you want to contribute—again, doer, giver or getter—Greenville will welcome your participation, whereas some cities, they don’t care. That’s probably one of the great attributes of Greenville, that’s why Greenville has grown so much.”
Says Warner: “He has this vision, and at the end of the day, really more than investing in an arts festival, people are rallying around Henry.”
Henry Horowitz has been contributing to arts and culture in Greenville and South Carolina since arriving here three decades ago this year. He’s still involved in all of it, including, especially, the springtime arts festival that stands as his most rewarding philanthropic effort. Still, he says, “Artisphere is not about Henry, it’s a whole group of people, plus their staff. It’s a whole community effort.”
Horowitz was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, in May 2019.
The Greenville Journal, which belongs to the family of publications that includes TOWN, called Horowitz the “Architect of Artisphere” in a profile published May 6, 2019.
Has fifty-plus years’ experience in managing start-ups and established firms in the medical and retail real estate industries.
Served in executive management roles with Insignia Financial Group before co-founding Oxford Capital. CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, purchased Insignia in 2003
In 2019, Artisphere drew some 70,000 people, producing $9.1 million in local economic impact—another indicator of Horowitz’s contribution to Greenville.Back to News