By Lori Dresner, Managing Editor/News Editor
Gallery Visio, the University of Missouri–St. Louis’s art gallery located on the first floor of the Millennium Student Center, will reopen this semester featuring three planned exhibitions. The gallery was closed for the entirety of the fall semester due to budget cuts that led to the laying off of the gallery’s former director.
Exhibitions for Gallery Visio this semester will include works from UMSL professor of art Dan Younger from January 19 to February 18 and works from UMSL assistant teaching professor of studio art Michael Behle from March 2 to April 8. An International Photo Contest exhibition will take place for two weeks in late April.
“The program’s going to be different in that the exhibitions will come in and go probably more quickly than they did previously,” said Terry Suhre, affiliate associate professor and the director of Gallery 210, as there are plans to potentially showcase other forms of art inside Gallery Visio in partnership with the MSC.
Miriam Roccia, assistant dean of students, further elaborated, “In planning with Terry Suhre and Dr. Maureen Quigley, Chair of the Art Department, we do hope that Gallery Visio will become a space in the MSC that celebrates the arts in all forms. We hope that programs and activities that showcase student talent in areas like music, poetry, or crafting might be hosted in the space down the road as well.”
The gallery was previously operated by Stuart Shadwell, an UMSL alumnus, from November 2014 until his layoff last summer. Suhre said that Shadwell’s layoff led to the gallery being closed for the fall.
“That really caught us unaware that this was going to happen to Stuart. So we really had to scramble to try and pull it together. And we just couldn’t get anything for the fall. There was just no way to put it together. It happened so suddenly,” said Suhre.
He continued, “I think that the whole university has taken some cuts and some hits … and we really have to be good stewards of the monies we have. So tough calls have to be made. It was disappointing to see Stuart go because he was doing a great job programming over there.”
The gallery will be tentatively open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when exhibitions are on display. Although it remains to be seen who will staff the gallery during its hours of operation, Roccia said, “It is also our hope that the gallery will be predominantly student run, showcasing student art in a space that is accessible and visible while providing an opportunity for continued learning for UMSL students.”
This will not be the first time that the gallery takes a student-centered focus. The idea of Gallery Visio was originally spearheaded by the Gallery Visio Student Association. According to Gallery Visio’s website, “The Gallery Visio Student Association was organized at the University of Missouri–St. Louis by a group of fine arts, anthropology, photography, and graphic design students who saw the need for an alternative venue to showcase student works and abilities on campus.” The association became recognized by the Student Government Association in 2001. Gallery Visio had its first exhibition and opening reception in February 2002.
Suhre said, “On the other hand, this sort of does take the gallery back to its original intent when it was founded. … It was really to be operated for and by students. … It kind of evolved into what I like to call a professional space. And now I think it’s going back to … more or less its original purpose.”
Another recent installation of artwork in the MSC was the addition of several pieces that now hang on the walls of the third floor near the Office of Student Involvement. The works were created by late UMSL alumna Leatrice Shank, who took studio art classes at the university in her later years, but passed away in 2013. An exhibition featuring Shank’s artwork ran in Gallery Visio from December 2015 to January 2016.
Julie Dunn-Morton, Mercantile Library Endowed Curator of Fine Arts Collections, said that a few of Shank’s paintings had already been owned by the university after being purchased many years ago. The university obtained the rest of the paintings when Shank’s family contacted Shadwell about running an exhibition of her work and ultimately decided to donate them to the university.
Shank’s artwork became part of Exhibits and Collections, which consists of pieces that are owned by the university but are not part of the Mercantile Library Collection.
Dunn-Morton explained, “Basically the point of the university collections is that people generously give us paintings. We have quite an eclectic collection. And so it doesn’t do any good to have it sitting in storage. It’s better off to have it out in a hall or a lobby or a conference room where people can enjoy it.”
The MSC is not the only location where artwork and exhibitions can be found this semester. Gallery 210, UMSL’s other art gallery located near the North Metrolink Station, will see its 45th anniversary this semester.
Gallery 210’s first exhibition this year will be a semester-long featured program called “Taking It to the Streets.” It will feature works from 12 different artists addressing identity, social justice, place, environment, and family. The exhibition will focus on contemporary urban experiences of interest to the communities of North St. Louis County, North St. Louis City, and all of Metro St. Louis.
An opening reception for the artists whose works will be on display in Gallery 210 will be held on January 28. The reception will begin with a panel discussion moderated by De Andrea Nichols at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a public reception until 7 p.m.
Two other exhibitions are also being showcased in the Mercantile Library, located downstairs in the Thomas Jefferson Library. Currently on display are “The Nature of Light,” a retrospective exhibit featuring photographs by Heidi Sherman, and “Audubon and Beyond,” a collection of natural history exhibits. Both exhibitions will run until June.