Monday, March 21, 2016

WHAT IS THE POINT OF A UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY?

image is courtesy of John Hernandez

ModernDallas.net repost of my article.

What is the point of a university art gallery? A good stock answer would be: art galleries and art museums on a campus function as an educational tool for their students and the broader public. But when I was getting my MFA, I found the campus galleries could also function as laboratories for students to experiment with displaying their work and testing out ideas. Both are good reasons to go out of your way to visit these spaces. It can be a bit challenging when attempting to park near a gallery, but if you plan ahead and get familiar with these spaces you will find visiting exhibitions of raw student talent, facility offerings, and uniquely curated shows rewarding.

The University of Dallas has the Beatrice M. Haggerty Art Gallery. I saw a spectacular show about painting one year that opened my eyes to a few artists that were new to me. Coming next month, the gallery has a Marc Chagall show, which to be honest isn’t particularly interesting to me, maybe because I have seen a glut of his work, but to see 50 original works might make it worth it if you like Chagall. The show starts on February 5th, so mark your calendars.

Pollock Gallery will have a faculty show on the 22nd. I always enjoy this type of show, because it helps you understand the influences the students are under. Slightly similar to the way artists in the apprentice eras were influenced by their masters, students of the University system either fully embrace their professors’ work and guidance, or the students react against it. Either way, this will help guide your understanding of what is coming out of the University. Plus, professors are also generally major players in the local art scene.

On January 25th, UT Arlington has a retrospective of John Hernandez. These are incredibly odd images and the show spans 37 years of his art career. Humorous, cartoony, with dayglow Pop color elements are Hernandez’s mode of operation. I see elements of street art and tattoo images, but melted and twisted into something a little more surreal.

Winter break takes out a chunk of exhibition time for many of the University galleries and UNT is no different. The UNT Gallery, Lightwell Gallery, Cora Stafford Gallery, North Gallery, and the UNT Art Space in Dallas are all closed until February 2nd. However, the University’s gallery on the square in downtown Denton has a must see show of Annette Lawrence. This show runs through the 30th of January and you will see a moment in her career where things begin to gel and inform her current exploration. Speaking of her current work, she also has a show at Conduit Gallery.

Not to leave community colleges out, Mountain View College has come off another strong year of shows. From paintings by Zeke Williams to Lynne Harlow, I don’t think I’ve seen a program at a community college with such a bold and impactful program as MVC. Maybe Giovanni Valderas left a legacy that will continue the next few years. I wonder what 2016 has in store.

Right now the colleges are gearing up for their educational programs, but Master of Fine Art thesis show season will begin soon in the spring, so look for the new talent showing around colleges and universities. You might see the next art star or at least someone that becomes influential to the next generation.

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