By: Brittany Bagwell, Valley Life Editor
Art gallery shows create an atmosphere of community that other campus events do not. They provide a forum for all types of students to gather, discuss, and enjoy. Thought-provoking and entertaining, art becomes a connective experience.
“Passing Time: 50 Years of Exhibitions” is a new exhibit on display celebrating the 50th anniversary of the art gallery at LA Valley College.
The event showed a variety of mixed media works by multiple artists that spanned the galleries’ half century life; digital art, canvas, print, sculpture, pottery, and other forms were featured. Works were hanging on walls, dangling from the ceiling, atop small podiums and shelves, on the floor, and behind glass.
At 8 p.m. the guests filed into a lecture hall for a panel discussion led by the curator of the event, longtime gallery director and former Dean of Arts at Valley College, Dennis Reed. The panel talk was about the place of an art gallery on a college campus; whether the two institutions were a good match or an uncomfortable fit.
Panel speaker Doug Harvey, a 13-year art critic for the LA Weekly, feels that 2-year colleges are in a powerful position because they are not a commercially driven business. His installation piece “Limp Chandelier” graces the catalogue and posters for the show.
Galleries at community colleges are free from the burdens of a profit driven world. They don’t have to sell their art. This allows for a certain purity of selection unfettered by consumer culture.
Another panel speaker, Eric Johnson, is both an alumni and artist from Valley College; he spoke about the importance of campus art galleries. “Community colleges catch those kids that fall through the cracks,” Johnson said, “myself included.”
About 75 people attended the opening night. Guests sat outside at tables munching on cheese cubes and baked goods. Guitarist Rick Guidotti and bassist Bruce Spiegel helped set the lighthearted mood of the event. Contemplating works of art while listening to the theme from James Bond playing on a pair of electric fenders just feels right.
Dion Skinner, economics major, reflected on the significance of art after having a chance to view the exhibits. “Without art it would just be a bunch of boring pencil pushers. Where else can you find a picture of a woman knitting a condom –it’s important,” referring to a piece by Stephen Berkman.
Skinner may be onto something. For an evening, the gallery brought strangers together as friends, something it has been doing for 50 years. People who didn’t know each other were talking and laughing as they explored each piece in the room.
The art gallery at Valley College sure knows how to put on a show. Stop by the Art Building to experience selected works from its history spanning 1964 to 2014 from March 13 – April 24. Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday – Wednesday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.