Visiting an art gallery in person is a unique experience — observing each individual brush stroke on a painting, seeing the colors and intricacies of a work of art in ways that photos online cannot do justice, feeling that rare serenity that comes as you stroll the space and take everything in.
There are many local universities and community colleges with their own galleries, and they are all gearing up for a somewhat normal year, complete with actual, real-life, in-person visitors.
At Gonzaga University's Jundt Art Museum, two exhibits this fall semester feature artwork entirely from the museum's permanent collection. In the Arcade Gallery there is Staying Home: Interior Views from the Collection of the Jundt Art Museum, and in the Jundt Gallery there is From the Collection: Art in the 19th Century. Both exhibits run through Dec 31.
Paul Manoguerra, director and curator at the Jundt, says the unpredictability of COVID-19 motivated the decision to focus entirely on the museum's permanent art collection, which reduces uncertainty and removes the need for contracts and possible closures and reopenings of traveling exhibits.
Staying Home features art that focuses on interior spaces, whether that is the artist's own interior space or another interior space entirely. Art in the 19th Century is fairly self-explanatory — all the artwork in the exhibit dates from the 19th century, and the exhibit goes along with a class on the same subject that Manoguerra teaches.
"I like museums because museums are all about the real object, and the real thing, which if we ever get to something that resembles post-pandemic, which I hope we do, I have a feeling that people are going to be tired of virtual, and museums in general can be one of the places that you can go have an authentic experience, to see the real thing again," Manoguerra says.
At Washington State University, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU has two main exhibits open to the public this fall: Mirror Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, and the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition.
Saar is a Los Angeles-based artist, and her exhibition includes nearly 50 prints and five sculptures, which chart the history of the experience of African Americans in America, says Debby Stinson, the marketing and public relations manager at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum. Mirror Mirror is open until March 12.
The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition was created from a statewide call for artists that was pared down to 20 artists who created works for the show. Jordan Schnitzer, the museum's patron, donated $50,000 to each of his three namesake museums, which went toward the grant, Stinson says. The Black Lives Matters exhibit will run through Dec. 18.
The artists in the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition use their voices and artistic expression to engage in social justice efforts in response to systemic racism, Jordan Schnitzer Museum curator and director Ryan Hardesty says via email. In addition to the two exhibits, there will be an opening reception with the artists and Jordan Schnitzer on Sept. 28 at 5 pm at the museum, an exhibition tour with Saar (Sept. 29 at 2 pm), and a Black Lives Matter intergenerational discussion (Sept. 29 at 3:30 pm).
"We model our institution as a teaching museum, a welcoming space for our communities to engage with, learn, and grow together from today's most pressing issues," Hardesty says.
At Eastern Washington University, the fall lineup features two exhibits, a biannual faculty exhibit and a two-person show called On the Edge: Living the Anthropocene, with artists Ann Chadwick Reid and Natalie Niblack. Joshua Hobson, incoming gallery director at the EWU Gallery of Art, says he is excited to take the reins, and he wants to work to increase viewership from the public and make the gallery a space conducive to learning.
The faculty exhibition allows faculty members to bring in whatever they have been working on over the past few years, whether their artwork is related to the subject they teach or not, and show it at the gallery, Hobson says. The show will run from Sept. 29 to Nov. 4.
On the Edge features art that responds to climate change. Reid's works are intricate paper works that look at the beauty and balance of ecosystems and how they are in distress, while Niblack's pieces are large, deeply saturated oil paintings depicting wildfires, says Hobson.
"Given the summer that we've had and just the kind of record-breaking wildfire season we've had summer after summer recently, it's a very timely work," he says.
At Whitworth University, the Bryan Oliver Gallery is running an exhibit titled Supersonica from Sept. 14 through Oct. 29. It features a collection of new drawings from Seattle artist Kayo Nakamura, says Lance Siennema, the gallery director. Supersonica will be followed by an exhibit of works by Jiemei Lin, an artist and illustrator from Pullman, which will run Nov. 9 to Jan. 21.
Spokane Falls Community College is also gearing up for fall exhibitions, as well as workshops with the artists whose work will be on display at the SFCC Fine Arts Gallery. The first exhibit will be a series of photographs titled Travel by June Roys, a faculty member at SFCC who teaches graphic design, says Cozette Phillips, incoming gallery director at SFCC. Travel will run Sept. 21 to Oct. 20.
SFCC is also hosting an exhibit of the multimedia collage works by Len Davis, an artist from North Hollywood, Phillips says. The exhibit will run Oct. 25 through Nov. 23, and will include an opening reception and a mixed media technique workshop.
Although the Prichard Art Gallery at the University of Idaho closed recently due to cuts in funding, a new nonprofit gallery called Moscow Contemporary was opened by Roger Rowley, the previous director of the Prichard, says Sonja Foard, former assistant director. On Sept. 17, Moscow Contemporary, in collaboration with the Prichard and city of Moscow, will open the Palouse Plein Air Exhibition.
All of the local art galleries have faced challenges with having to close completely due to COVID-19, and though many pivoted quickly and started online programming, exhibitions or artist talks, having visitors at the galleries again is something everyone says they are looking forward to in the year to come. ♦