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The Gallery unveils first exhibit in its new home

September 13, 2012

By Eric Bonzar

Much like any work of art, an artist must begin with a canvas—that blank slate that is not only functional enough to draw the passers-by attention, but also worthy enough to convey the message and emotion the artist attempts to replicate through his or her work.

For the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, The Galleries at CSU is that canvas.
On Sept. 7, the program unveiled its first collective masterpiece in its new home, applicably named “The First Exhibition.”

The new facility, located at 1307 Euclid Ave.—right in the heart of the
downtown cultural district—opened its doors to students, faculty and the general public at 5 p.m.

One-by-one, visitors entered, reveling in the colorful, thought-provoking, even disturbing displays of artwork commissioned by past and present faculty.

The first faculty group exhibition in 15 years serves the community as visual expression of the passion and expertise that each faculty member individually instills within their classrooms.

Displayed works of art from current full-time faculty including Qian Li, Russ Revok and Mark Slankard, as well as works from past and present full and part-time teaching staff showcase the program’s various mediums taught by the artists.

As Michael Mauldin, chair of the Department of Theater and Dance descended down The Galleries’ elegant staircase into its heart, he was visually taken back by the facility’s inner beauty.

“Amazing, absolutely first-class amazing,” said Mauldin. “The exquisite detail is top-notch and comparable to anything you would see in downtown Chicago, New York, or Minneapolis.”

But the road to top-notch exquisiteness wasn’t easily paved.

In 2011, the original Art Department and Gallery at 2307 Chester Ave.—which stood as a “temporary” home since 1975—made way for the university’s rapid growth.

Succumbing to the wrecking ball, the original facility’s ground was cleared for what is now the Langston Apartments.

Director Robert Thurmer and Assistant Director Tim Knapp said general concerns arose not only of where the Art Department’s gallery would relocate to, but also where the entire Art Department itself would relocate to as well.

Thurmer who has served as the director of the gallery since 1980, said convenience for students was a major concern when considering the new location.

“At first we weren’t crazy about it,” said Thumer. “(But) this location is definitely better for exposure. It’s not that great for our students because they have to walk much farther, but we’re getting used to it.”

After nearly a two-year process that included finding a location, numerous design phases, setbacks and the cutting of the department’s budget in half, Thurmer and Knapp are pleasantly pleased where the program is at today.

“Ultimately it did come to pass and here we are,” said Thurmer.

Administrators of the gallery said the new facility—although almost exactly the same size of the old building on Chester—has its own unique characteristics.

“More wall space, less floor space,” Thurmer and Knapp said synchronously.

“Since the foyer is so long and narrow, that’s where we’re losing our floor space,” added Knapp. “Our other space was much more wide open for the most part.”

Conversely, Knapp said the loss of floor space offers the viewer a more intimate relationship with the artwork.

Thurmer said the gallery’s new space has become more professor-student friendly as well. Thurmer and Knapp now each have their own office space—unlike their shared space at the old building—and now there is a space for students and teachers to meet.

Professor George Mauersberger—whose work is currently on display— also shared in the astonishment of the finished work.

“I’m thrilled,” said Mauersberger. “I looked at this building two years ago as raw space, and didn’t picture it as a gallery. I think we are now in a much better location here in the theatre district.”

Though a long and tumultuous process, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences—along with its students and faculty—have transformed themselves into what Dean Gregory Sadlek hopes will become a nationally-prominent center of excellence in the arts, as well as a valued partner in the world-class arts scene.

Only time will tell if that inner-transformation will prove to be a successful venture for the program and the university nationally, but Mauldin is sure its presence will soon be felt locally.

“I already feel the transformation within the program,” said Mauldin.
"What’s happening now is the Art Department and the Theatre Department are transforming downtown Cleveland.”