Adelphi's University Center art gallery is back and better than ever.
Part of the Ruth S. Harley University Center (UC), the Adele and Herbert J. Klapper Art Gallery has reopened to the public after closing its doors for 18 months for renovation.
The new gallery is almost double the size of the old one, and the carpeted floors have been replaced with gleaming hardwoods. The lighting has been upgraded, and there’s a new and improved climate control system for maintaining proper conditions for art. The gallery improvements were part of the renovation of the entire Ruth S. Harley University Center, a 49-year-old landmark on the Garden City campus.
“It’s a great new space and we’re really excited about it.” says Jonathan Duff, Adelphi’s exhibition and art collection curator.
While the UC gallery was closed for renovations, art exhibitions continued on campus at galleries in Adelphi’s Swirbul Library and the Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In-person art shows stopped entirely, Duff said. Graduating seniors of the Class of 2020 had their thesis show online, with a Zoom reception.
New Art Gallery Space Brings Full Schedule of Shows
Now that all three of the University’s exhibition spaces are open, there’s a lot of art ahead.
- The Adele and Herbert J. Klapper Art Gallery space opened with an exhibit honoring Black History Month called SCAFFOLD: Equity of Treatment by visiting artist Elan Cadiz.
- The current Klapper Art Gallery show is an exhibition of work by 13 faculty members from the Department of Art and Art History. It features approximately 25 pieces in a range of media. The exhibition runs through Saturday, April 10.
- In the PAC gallery, there’s a juried exhibition of art made by 11 Adelphi students. Titled Kappi Pi 2020–2021: Art During the Pandemic, the show features work done since March 2020 that explores the artists’ responses to living through a modern plague. Both exhibitions run until Saturday, April 10.
- On Monday, April 19, the art department’s thesis exhibitions will open in the UC gallery.
- On Sunday, April 25, an exhibition featuring the work of Adelphi faculty member Hannah Allen, assistant professor of art and art history, will open in the Swirbul Library Gallery.
Duff plans to invite more visiting artists to exhibit in the new UC gallery later this year. Atlanta artist Craig Drennen is next on the schedule. “He does a combination of painting and sculpture that really fills a gallery,” Duff said.
And Duff hopes to have Chuck D ’84, ’13 (Hon.)—leader of the rap group Public Enemy— exhibit in the new UC gallery. Born Carlton Ridenhour, he is also an artist who studied graphic design at Adelphi.
Upping the Online Game
To keep Adelphi’s art collection accessible to the public during the pandemic and the renovation, the University launched a virtual gallery that showcases pieces from the Adelphi University Art Collection. Currently there are 16 pieces on display, ranging from a Robert Betchel lithograph to a Will Barnet oil painting. Duff said the virtual gallery will stay up even now that the UC gallery’s physical space is open again, and he has plans for expanding the art available for remote viewing. “We’re working on a way to make the University’s permanent collection of 3,000 pieces of art searchable on the library database,” Duff said.
He has also upped Adelphi’s Instagram game, posting images of art in the UC gallery and the spaces in the library and PAC.
But even with the campus open again, Adelphi still isn’t having receptions, either in person or online.
Artist talks—a standard part of exhibitions and a key part of a show’s educational component—aren’t happening yet, either. Adelphi’s Office of University Communications and Marketing is putting together a video tour of her studio that will be shown to Adelphi students at a later time. “She’ll talk about her work,” Duff said. “It will be a substitute for an artist talk.”
Duff is optimistic that the Adele and Herbert J. Klapper Art Gallery will return to hosting in-person receptions and artist talks in the fall. He says the renovated UC gallery will help him recruit artists to exhibit on campus, because a top-notch space lures top-notch artists. “I’m excited to be able to reach across the country to add diversity to what we show in the galleries,” Duff said. “Having professional artists exhibit here benefits the community, and it benefits the students. The new gallery helps that happen.”