Exhibitions featuring works by Arbus and Serra mark reopening of Picker Art Gallery

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The Colgate Picker Art Gallery reopens Thursday.

Picker Art Gallery, located in Colgate’s Dana Arts Center, reopens Thursday.

Two exhibitions of work by American art legends, Diane Arbus and Richard Serra, mark the first public Picker Art Gallery opening in the Dana Arts Center since staff closed the space in 2012 to embark on a major inventory of Colgate’s collection of 11,000 works of art.

The exhibitions, which open at 5 p.m. Thursday and run through January 10, 2015, feature 27 Arbus photographs from the collection of John Pelosi ’85 and Susan Manly Pelosi ’85, and 23 Serra prints from the collection of Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf ’58.

Anja Chávez, director of university museums, said the 1,600-square-foot gallery space has received cosmetic updates, new flooring, and improved lighting. But the majority of work conducted during the gallery’s closure was an inventory project that will enable migration of the collection’s documentation from print to digital archives in the future.

“Everything is now inventoried, and that will enable us to go to the next level,” Chávez said, adding that new staff has also been hired to curate the collection, install exhibitions, and to handle security. “It’s time consuming, but you have to do it right, and that time spent will help us in the long term.”

That long-term plan includes researching the provenance of each piece in the collection, and the creation of a digital library of the works that can be accessed by students and faculty for research.

“It’s a cultural enterprise. Doing an exhibition is one thing, but focusing on the collection, and thinking about the collection is another,” Chávez said.

Jill Shaw, senior curator of collections at the Picker, said having works of art by Arbus and Serra on display is a thrilling way to reopen the gallery.

“Arbus is a master photographer,” Shaw said. “What is so wonderful about her work, what is so incredible, is that she has this ability to straddle the genres of documentary portrait photography. She is a genius.”

Serra, known mostly for his large-scale sculptures, also creates richly textured prints that almost explode from the paper.

“Of the 23 Serra works in the show, 20 are from the Venice Notebook 2001 series. Those works were borne from sketches he made in 2001, of his sculpture at the Venice Biennale,” Shaw said.


Lecture: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, in Golden Auditorium

“Diane Arbus and American Photography,” a lecture by Jeff Rosenheim, curator in charge, Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Opening remarks by Lynette Stephenson, professor of art and art history, and an introduction
 by Jill Shaw, senior curator of collections. Sponsored by the Picker Art Gallery, with additional funding 
from the Department of Art and Art History.

Exhibitions open: 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Thursday, September 18, in Golden Auditorium

Opening remarks by Jeffrey Herbst, president; Douglas Hicks, provost and dean of the faculty; and Anja Chávez, director of university museums, will be followed by a conversation with collector Paul J. Schupf ’58 and Jill Shaw, senior curator of collections.

Opening reception
: 6:45 to 8 p.m. Thursday, September 18, in Picker Art Gallery, Dana Arts Center

All programs are free and open to the public. For additional programming, visit the Picker Art Gallery’s website.