CULLOWHEE – The Fine Art Museum in Western Carolina University’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center will celebrate its grand opening and kick off its inaugural season Sunday, Oct. 23, unveiling five concurrent exhibitions that will remain on display through Dec. 16.
The exhibition premiere and artists’ reception will be held from 1 until 3 p.m., and are open to the public free of charge. The Pavel Wlosok Jazz Trio will perform at the reception. The grand opening celebration is in conjunction with “In the Mood,” the inaugural show in the 2005-06 Subscription Series at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. The musical revue featuring the Big Band sounds of the 1940s begins at 3 p.m.
The exhibition premiere will feature nearly 100 works from the permanent collection, new acquisitions and recent gifts to Western’s growing university art collection. It is highlighted by “Worldviews: Selections from the Collection and New Acquisitions,” featuring emerging and noted local, regional, national and international artists.
The “Worldviews” exhibit includes art by Kenneth Noland of Asheville, Esteban Vicente, Louis Finkelstein and Herman Goustin; a developing Women’s Study Collection, including works by Rosemarie Beck, Quita Brodhead, Mary Parker, Janie McWhirter and Edith Neff; new acquisitions by local, regional and national artists such as Joyce Blunk, Luzene Hill, Harvey K. Littleton, Gregory Masurovsky, Jeff Oestreich, Martin Puryear, William T. Wiley, Joel Queen and Rick Urban; and recent gifts from area and regional collectors such as the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation of New York, which donated a major work by painter John Heliker, and an important print portfolio that includes work of Guillermo Silva of Colombia and Cuban artist Emilio Sanchez.
“Our goal is to develop a vital program of what we expect to be a significant fine art collection of cross-cultural forms of expression of modern and contemporary art,” said Martin DeWitt, founding director of the Fine Art Museum. “While Western North Carolina already has a strong reputation as a center for traditional and contemporary craft, our effort intends to enhance that focus and help strengthen the region as a cultural destination, while celebrating the intrinsic value of the visual arts and creativity as a resource to inspire.”
Also part of the inaugural exhibit series will be “Joel Philip Myers: Studio Glass Installations.” Myers, a major figure in the contemporary studio glass movement, will be represented by two important bodies of work – his “Black and White Installations,” which reflect on the pain and suffering of war, and the “Dialogue Series,” which offers an optimistic and amusing focus on human discourse and personal relationships. Since 1970, Myers’ works have been included in significant national and international glass exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Asia, DeWitt said.
The museum also will inaugurate a “Contemporary Native American Artist Series” with two exhibitions – “Luzene Hill: The Pilgrimage Ribbon,” a mixed media installation by renowned Atlanta artist Luzene Hill that explores her interest in the 16 th -century Aztec codices in relation to her Cherokee heritage, in newly created books forms, drawings and sculpture; and “Lasting Impressions,” a limited edition print portfolio created by 10 prominent Native American artists from across the nation, supported by a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
The fifth exhibit – “Strange Beauty: New Perspectives by Western Art Alumni” – will showcase the work of Western art graduates. “These are artists who offer challenging viewpoints in response to complex contemporary culture, social, political and personal visions of mind, body and spirit,” said DeWitt. The first three featured alumni artists are Connie Bostic of Fairview, who earned her master’s degree in 1990; Mary Charles Griffin of Asheville, a 2002 graduate of Western; and Tim Jacobs of Cullowhee, who earned his master’s degree in 1999.
A $30 million, 122,000-square-foot showcase for the arts, the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western features more than 10,000 square feet of gallery and atrium exhibition space to house Western’s growing permanent collection and rotating displays of contemporary art and student work. The museum also will offer related educational programs, lectures, symposia, visiting artists-in-residence series and an outdoor sculpture program.
The art wing of the building includes classrooms and office space for Western’s art department. The building also includes a 1,000-seat auditorium capable of hosting Broadway-quality productions.
For information about the Fine Art Museum , call (828) 227-3591 or visit fapac.wcu.edu.