A vibrant painting featuring robust red, pink and orange brushstrokes by the influential American artist Mark Rothko now greets visitors when they enter the stunning new Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University.
The galleries — which moved to a new location in the Creative Arts Center as part of the building’s modernization project — now features five airy, light-filled gallery spaces where visitors can enjoy rotating exhibitions, the Stein family and Galleries Permanent Collections and videos.
Overall the galleries grew from 7,800 square feet to 11,000 square feet.
Visitors can also enjoy the first exhibition of the season in the Stein Galleries’ new home. The exhibition “Impresión: Modern and Contemporary Latino Prints” features work by five contemporary Latino artists as well as a collection of prints by Mexican modernists who worked in the early to mid-1900s.
“The new Stein Galleries are simply stunning,” said Kristin Sobolik, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “When we analyzed the blueprints, modeled the space and selected color, lighting and windows, we never envisioned the final product would be so perfect. It is my new favorite spot on campus.”
The new galleries are just one of the striking changes in the Creative Arts Center. Over the last two years, much of the building has been transformed with new dance and music studios and classrooms, art studio spaces, theatre design and technology classrooms and a stage combat classroom.
The front of the building now has an iconic, accessible entrance symbolizing the excellence of the university’s arts programs.
In addition, the Motion Pictures Program moved into its new space in the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures.
The new home of the Stein Galleries includes a dedicated space for the Stein Collection, which the Stein family donated to Wright State as part of their generous gift to the galleries.
About a dozen pieces from the collection are currently on display, including Rothko’s “Red on Pink on Yellow-Orange,” which previously was in storage.
“This is its permanent home. So people can come and enjoy the Rothko,” Cortes said.
Rothko is identified as an abstract expressionist and is celebrated as one of the most famous postwar American artists.
“Red on Pink on Yellow-Orange” is in Rothko’s signature style, which features symmetrical rectangular blocks of two to three contrasting, yet complementary, colors. Influenced by philosophers like Nietzsche, Rothko sought to convey emotion and transcend representation for the ethereal in his works, Cortes said.
“A lot of his paintings are very contemplative and emotional — that was what he was going for,” she said.
“We are indebted to Robert and Elaine Stein for their love of art and their love of Wright State,” Sobolik said. “Through their generosity, future generations will be able to experience contemporary art in such a beautiful setting.”
Temporary exhibitions will be primarily located in the main Lower Gallery. Like in the galleries’ previous location, the new space has a hole between the first and second floors, allowing Cortes to organize exhibitions in the Lower Gallery and in the Eugene and Jean Cantelupe Gallery on the second floor.
The hole also allows the galleries to continue to feature site-specific installations. Struts were installed in the second-floor ceiling so artists can safely suspend works in the hole between the floors.
“That’s always been attractive for (artists) to have people experience their work vertically as well as horizontally,” Cortes said.
Also located on the second floor are the Video Gallery; gallery263, a community gallery space; and the galleries’ Collection Gallery.
The Video Gallery is a new space where single channel video are shown. Currently, the Video Gallery features early works by the late Dayton artist Jud Yalkut, who founded the film program at Wright State.
“I thought it was appropriate to formally launch our Video Gallery showing Jud Yalkut’s work,” Cortes said.
Gallery263 is available for exhibits organized by students and people in community. A scholarship exhibition featuring works by Wright State scholarship winners is currently on display in the space.
The Collection Gallery features various works from the galleries’ permanent collection. The collection, which the galleries started accumulating in 1984, contains about 700 works of art.
Another new work coming to the galleries is Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing 356,” which was originally installed in Rike Hall in 1981.
Next February, it will be reinstalled on the first floor of the galleries. The drawing features eight-foot tall geometric shapes that the Stein Galleries’ logo is based on.
Robert and Elaine Stein supported the installation of the drawing three decades ago, so Cortes said, “we thought it fitting to have it reinstalled in the Stein Galleries.”
Cortes takes particular pride in a new vault in which the galleries can now properly store 2-D works from the Stein Galleries Collection.
In its previous space, the galleries stored works in an old classroom on wooden shelves, which was not an ideal situation. With its new location, the galleries doubled its storage space in which to properly store artwork.
Located in the basement of the Creative Arts Center, the vault features metal museum-quality space-saver art racks on which works can be hung and new metal flat files for oversized unframed works, including the galleries’ 155 Warhol photographs and silkscreens. Space is available to accommodate the existing collection and account for 10 percent growth.
“This will help make sure our collection lasts indefinitely,” Cortes said.
Destination Art events
The College of Liberal Arts will celebrate the renovation and modernization of the Creative Arts Center and the opening of the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.
Sept. 22: Opening Night of “Restoration,” Festival Playhouse, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1: Homecoming: Creative Arts Center Open House, 2-4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1: Homecoming: Tom Hanks Center Open House, 2-4:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: College of Liberal Arts Donor Appreciation Reception, Creative Arts Center, 5:45-8 p.m.
Oct. 27: Opening Night of “No, No Nanette,” Festival Playhouse, 7 p.m.
November: Music Event, Creative Arts Center
Nov. 4: Dance Party, Creative Arts Center, 10 p.m.-midnight
Dec. 3: ArtsFair, Creative Arts Center, 9 a.m.-noon
Jan. 27: Dance Party, Creative Arts Center
Feb. 6-17: Sol Lewitt Installation and Lectures, Creative Arts Center
March 10: Dance Party, Creative Arts Center
March 31: Design Tech Portfolio Exhibit, Creative Arts Center, 4-7 p.m.
April 8: ArtsGala, Creative Arts Center, 6:30 p.m.-midnight
April 20: Dance Concert, Festival Playhouse, 7 p.m.