Posted January 31, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment
 
 

Community Organizes to Save Evergreen Gallery from Closure

Art Gallery Slated to be Closed Due to Budget Cuts



By Phoebe Celeste Thomas

A change is in the works for Evergreen’s art facilities—the elimination of the only professional art gallery on campus, the Evergreen Gallery. The state budget has discontinued funding the gallery, leaving the gallery posed to close after the 2014-2015 academic year.

The gallery, which has been a part of the college since its foundation, displays work by professional artists year round and showcases students’ senior thesis projects. Not to be confused with the Student Art Gallery, which is student-run and curates student shows on a bi-weekly basis, the Evergreen Gallery, located in the library building, is a space for impressive collections by renowned artists, such as the current exhibit featuring work by Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus.

For many people, the gallery represents something crucial, not only to a university with a good arts program, but to the art community as a whole. “It’s a resource we owe to students and the community. Art is physical. It requires space and the kind of thought about space that only a curator can provide,” said Susan Christian, who runs Salon Refu, an art gallery located downtown. The Evergreen Gallery is a unique place in Olympia in that it is the kind of space where big names might show their work. Without it, Olympia would be lacking in that kind of facility.

As Evergreen is intending to eliminate its gallery space, other schools are amping up the quality of their galleries. University of Washington just hired a gallery curator from the Frye Art Museum, one of Seattle’s top art museums, to run its Jacob Lawrence Gallery. The New York Times recently published an article about how universities are pumping up their galleries. In the face of an art world that is ever more competitive and professional, Evergreen simply can’t expect to compete in terms of its facilities for students and the community if it gets rid of their only gallery space for professional artists entirely.

In response to the impending gallery closure, a variety of students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community have organized to take action to save the gallery.

“I think that we have made budget cuts that have damaged the quality of education at Evergreen,” said Erik Thuesen, zoology faculty. Thomas Johnston, artist, emeritus professor of art at Western Washington University (WWU), and former director of the Western Gallery at WWU, said, “It is inconceivable that a liberal arts college, nationally recognized for creativity, would consider anything less than full support of such a viable program that serves the academic community and contributes to the culture of the region.”

For people that wish to become involved with the continued effort to support saving the gallery, there is a petition available at the Evergreen Gallery and the Student Art Gallery, and at change.org.  The gallery is located on the entry level of the Library Building, Room 2204 near the clock tower, and is open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 to 5 p.m. The hope is that, with enough of a fervent show of support, the gallery will be able to be preserved as a community resource and art portal some way or another.