Located next to the Robert E. Kennedy Library and Dexter Subs, the University Art Gallery is a convenient place to take a break. But despite the prominent location, “It is a very hard uphill battle to get students in here,” gallery coordinator Jeff Van Kleeck said.
Some students have no idea where the gallery is and some don’t even know there was an art gallery on campus. This is an issue Van Kleeck has been working on. By updating the Web site and interacting through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Van Kleeck has tried to reach the Cal Poly community as well as San Luis Obispo residents.
Van Kleeck uses his budget to help create a a nurturing environment for students by bringing artists and other creative professionals to campus.
He said one of the most important parts of art is realizing that mistakes are allowed; the University Art Gallery is one of those environments where mistakes can lead to great works of art.
The Web site offers information on the exhibits (current and past), a calendar of the year’s shows, directions to the gallery and links to other recommended places to experience art. One part of the Web site being developed is a page where there will be interviews with the artists. There are also links to the new Facebook page and Twitter account. These are recent attempts to reach out and engage audiences.
Gallery employee and art and design junior Caitlin Beyer enjoys when people come in and engage in the art by asking questions. “If you have five minutes you can just walk through. You can walk around the gallery while you wait for your sandwich,” she said.
She added that coming into the art gallery is a good way to gain understanding of other disciplines.
“When you are a college student you are really focused on your own major. It’s nice to look around and enjoy it,” Beyer said. “You notice new things every day.”
The gallery is always open to the public and free.
“I think it is important to have (the gallery). Not just for art students but for everyone because there aren’t a lot of art museums in San Luis Obispo,” Beyer said.
Though there are other art venues in San Luis Obispo, they are not all aimed to engage students. One of the criteria in choosing an artist for an exhibit at the University Art Gallery is seeing if they could come and speak either for the opening or closing of the exhibit. There are many steps that must be taken when planning for an event in gallery.
Van Kleeck said he tries to get the best shows to the gallery and to use the budget effectively. The funding for the gallery is provded by College of Liberal Arts and the Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) fees. Van Kleeck said the gallery used to get money from Cal Poly Arts but due to budget cuts they were no longer able to help.
Even with budget issues the gallery is still open. It showed “Elemental: Thailand Artists Exchange” from Nov.12 to Dec. 5. It was part of an exchange of six Thai artists and five Californian artists. Cal Poly hosted three artists, including associate professor Prasert Pichayasoonthorn, a mixed media and installation artist; associate professor and painter Nawin Biadklang; and lecturer Prapakorn Sukonthamanee, a textile and fabric artist.
Next quarter the Thailand Artist Exchange will be replaced with another type of art. The next exhibit will be the Type Director’s Club featuring national award winning graphic design. Joshua Chen of Chen Design Associates was mentioned for excellence in typography for three projects by the club. He will be speaking at the exhibit opening on Jan. 15 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the University Art Gallery.
Every spring students’ work is featured in the gallery with the department of art and design Annual Juried Student Exhibition, which is evaluated by judges from outside of Cal Poly. This features student submissions from art classes in the last year in photography, graphic design, studio art and digital media. This show runs from April 16 to May 7. There is also the Senior Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition from May 14 to 28.
“I think that anyone when pressed can have creativity,” Van Kleeck said
The gallery is open to the public for free Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is in Dexter Building, Room 171.