Visitors to the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center can now enjoy artwork previously displayed at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design. With the renovation and expansion of Talley Student Union underway, the Gregg has had to put a vast majority of its collection into storage until a new facility for the museum is completed.
As a part of the fundraising effort to convert the former chancellor’s residence into an art museum, the Gregg Museum put together a campaign committee. One member of the committee, Bing Sizemore, a 1971 textile chemistry graduate, thought it would be a great idea to get some of the art from the Gregg to be displayed at the Alumni Center.
“He thought that if some people who visit the Alumni Center saw some of the pieces of our collection, they might be more likely to donate to our cause,” says Roger Manley, director of the Gregg Museum.
The Park Alumni Center had very little art on display when it opened in 2006. The only art initially was portraits of contributors who donated $1 million or more toward the construction of the Alumni Center. There are nine framed portraits in various rooms throughout the building.
“During the building process, it was kind of a ‘thank you’ to those contributors,” says Randy Ham, associate executive director of outreach and data at the Alumni Association. “The portraits hang in the rooms that were named after them.”
Choosing additional art for the public spaces on the first and second floors was set aside until a few years ago, when the Alumni Association reached out to the Gregg Museum about displaying artwork done by alumni. Those efforts were dropped until about a year ago, when Sizemore approached The State Club and the Alumni Association again. A final agreement was reached last year to get some of the art that would have gone into storage put up in the Alumni Center.
“Manley was given free reign to pick what he thought was appropriate,” Ham says.
The pieces he chose are everything from photographs to landscape paintings. Nearly all of the art is related to NC State or North Carolina in some way. Many of the pieces are from artists who are alumni of NC State.
The abstract paintings on the first floor were done by George Bireline, a professor at the College of Design from 1955 to 1986. The first floor also features several photographs by NC State alum Chris Hondros, an acclaimed war photographer who was killed in Libya in 2011.
The first floor is also the home for a few contemporary pastel paintings by Will Henry Stevens. While he wasn’t directly associated with the university, Stevens was known for his pastels that depicted rural Southern nature abstracts and landscapes. He used to vacation in the mountains near Asheville, which is where he spent most of his time painting these works.
Another notable artist is Cora Kelley Ward, whose pastel abstracts are located on the second floor. She went to Black Mountain College, a well-known art school at the time. “When they decided to start a college of design here, they looked to that college and tried to make ours the same way,” Manley says.
The last artist showcased at the Alumni Center, on the second floor, is Maud Gatewood. Her abstract landscape paintings were chosen because they are meant to remind alumni of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“We wanted people to have different kinds of art that they could walk around and gravitate toward and enjoy in different ways,” Manley says.
The artwork is expected to stay in the Alumni Center for at least a few years. Ham and Manley would both like for collections to rotate, much like they do at the Gregg Museum, to keep the aesthetics fresh and interesting inside the Alumni Center.
“Our whole goal here is to make this a warm, welcoming, beautifully-decorated building for alumni to visit and consider their home on campus when they’re visiting,” Ham says.
— Sam O’Brien ’14