By CHARLES DIAZ, Ranger Reporter:
A new chapter in the history of Amarillo College begins at 5 p.m. Feb. 18 as the common lobby of the Concert Hall Theater undergoes a transformation into an art gallery. The first show will host artwork submitted for the Common Reader visual arts contest.
The Common Reader began in 2008, teaming up with the art department in 2012 to host the first visual arts competition on the first floor of what was once the Lynn Library. According to professor Rene West, this is the fifth year for the Common Reader Visual Arts Competition. The book for this year’s competition is “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.
The art department has been around for more than 40 years, but in all that time it has never had a large art gallery to display student’s artwork–only a closet-sized room in Russell Hall.
“The walls and the lighting were fine,” Steve Cost, art professor and gallery manager, said, “but it’s just a closet and it’s hard to go in there because its confining.”
Cost explained that the art students hung some of their work on the walls of Russell Hall, but that wasn’t a proper art gallery. The ability to show off student artwork in an adequate gallery has been a desire of Victoria Taylor-Gore, dean of the school of creative arts, and Cost for a long time. Their wish came true when the music department offered to let the art department use the common lobby area as their gallery.
“This is kind of exciting to have a more consistent space that we can devote to theme shows,” Taylor- Gore said.
“We’ve always had an affinity for what and an admiration for what each other can do in their artistic mediums,” said Camille Nies, the music department chair.
Faculty say they hope that creating the art gallery in the music hall will encourage collaboration and expose students to different art forms as they will visit the gallery and enjoy concerts like the faculty recital that will be held on the gallery’s opening night.
“Before we were a little more adrift on our own,” said Taylor-Gore. “I hope that in the future we might have things to expand to other areas like bring English and have a poetry reading.”
Nies said there will be many more collaborative opportunities.
”I’m really excited about what we will be able to do,” Nies said with a big smile. “We are so excited, so stinking excited about being able to do this recital. I can’t tell you”
Amarillo College is part of the city’s cultural district- a designation that the Texas Commission on Arts awarded the city last spring. According to Nies, the new gallery will further highlight arts and culture in our area.
“As an educational organization we can bring in all kinds of different elements,” Nies said.