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Esteemed Exhibits Ignored by Students?

Annette Ritzko, Editor-In-Chief

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Sculptures from the Auguste Rodin exhibit at the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery located in Insalaco Hall until Dec. 9.

Dominic Augustine
Sculptures from the Auguste Rodin exhibit at the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery located in Insalaco Hall until Dec. 9.

Students don’t seem to have much interest in art exhibits in the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery.

Donna Posatko, Director, and Alexandra Isaac, gallery assistant, believe students may not be taking advantage of exhibits and the gallery because they do not realize the value in doing so.

Staffers say there was poor student turnout for the opening night of  “Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime-Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections” and the lecture “Experiencing Rodin.”

Brianna Kominak, junior occupational therapy major, said she has little time for the gallery.

“I’m not very interested in sculptures, and I don’t have much time to check it out,” said Kominiak. “I’ve never actually been to an exhibit here because no one really goes to them that I know of.”

Sabrina Di Tucci, junior physical therapy major, and Habrienne Louchie, junior nursing major, do not frequent Insalaco Hall, and that’s why they say they hadn’t thought of visiting the gallery.

“I don’t often go to Insalaco, and I just didn’t know about the opening night for the exhibit. Had I known I might have gone,” said Louchie.

Patrick Joyce, junior education major, said he simply has no interest in art.

“[The lack of student interest] has always been an issue for us. The opening being on a Saturday night, parking and it being Homecoming weekend worked against us, but I was hoping some of the professors would send them to the lecture as extra credit. We usually have two or three faculty members who will regularly send their students to the gallery on assignment, Dr. Rebecca Steinberger being one of them,” said Posatko.

Steinberger, professor of English, did not assign the lecture as extra credit, but she did formulate an assignment that centered around the Rodin exhibit.

The purpose of her assignment was twofold: to get students to appreciate the quality art on campus and to help develop writing skills, she said.

Although it was a replacement for a previously planned exhibit, Posatko said quality is certainly not lacking in the Rodin exhibit.

“We normally book at least two years in advance, but communication was lost between us and the artist, so my gallery assistant, Alex, and I went on the web and started looking for another show as a replacement. Suddenly we saw the Rodin show, and I originally thought there was no way our gallery could qualify for such an important artist, but there is no harm in asking,” said Posatko.

Asking paid off.  Judith Sobol, Executive Director and curator for the exhibit and the opening night’s featured speaker, contacted Posatko and agreed to the show so long as extra security measures were in place and other requirements were met, said Posatko.

Setting up exhibits is never an easy feat, let alone one featuring a world-renowned sculptor during the 100th anniversary of his death, said Isaac. The university is joining top-tier galleries around the world in celebrating Auguste Rodin, said Issac.

Preparation for the Rodin exhibit included installing specialized vitrines and display cases, obtaining permission for photographs,  assessing whether the gallery can safely bear the weight of the sculptures, and meeting other requirements outlined in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation contract with the university said Issac.

Posatko has Alfred Yanovich, Facilities electrical mechanic, do the lighting for all exhibits, but this one posed a challenge.

During her presentation, “Experiencing Rodin,” Sobol explained that lighting a Rodin exhibit is especially hard because if it’s too dark, details on the sculptures are not observable, and if it’s too bright the details will be too reflective.

Posatko also needed to hire professional art handlers and a conservator who specializes in bronze sculpture. Posatko said the exhibit as a whole was an extra expense but one she thinks was worth it.

The show features 17 authentic bronze portraits by Rodin and three portraits of the famous sculptor created by his contemporaries. The exhibition was made possible by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. Bernie Cantor, one of the founders of the foundation, has had a special love for Rodin’s sculptures since he was in his 20’s. He and his wife, Iris, grew their passion into a foundation dedicated to providing philanthropic leadership to the arts and medicine and making sure Rodin is never forgotten.

Students and faculty can visit the gallery from Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. For more information on Iris & B. Gerald Cantor  Foundation,  visit http://cantorfoundation.org/ .

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Esteemed Exhibits Ignored by Students?