Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 8, 2010

An inside look into the Galesburg Civic Art Center

Whether Knox students choose to tackle the academic challenges provided by an art major or periodically survey the magnificent art gallery in the Ford Center for Fine Arts, they often make a gratifying decision to connect with the artistic world.

While the Knox Art Department gives members of the Knox community a plethora of opportunities to create art or appreciate art that has been created by others, not many Knox students are aware that a piece of the world of art is located in the Galesburg community — the Galesburg Civic Art Center.

Since 1923, the Galesburg Civic Art Center has been aiming to endorse the visual arts, either by gifting artists with the opportunity to display their work in various exhibitions, or by cultivating an interest in art among members of the Knox community.

The Galesburg Civic Art Center takes great pride in the variety of exhibits that it displays throughout the year.

According to Heather Norman, Director of the Galesburg Civic Art Center, “The Galesburg Civic Art Center promotes the visual arts in the Galesburg community in a variety of ways, including monthly exhibitions and Art in the Park, a one-day Art Fair in September. We also present an Independent Film Festival in September, which showcases a wide variety of independent films. We host a summer residency program called Studios Midwest too, which brings one to three artists to Galesburg each summer.”

Lynn Miller, Office Manager at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, said, “With every exhibition in the gallery, we have an opening reception where entry is free and refreshments are available, usually from 6-8 p.m.”

Not only does the Center advocate the encouragement of current artists within the Galesburg community, but it also takes a special interest in cultivating a passion for art among the youth.

According to Miller, “ We introduce art at a young age – every January we hold an event called ‘Kids Month,’ where children participate in 6-7 different art projects for three weeks so that the kids can get a taste of different types of art and what art is. During the fourth week all the artwork is set up for exhibition.”

Occasional class field trips from Galesburg High School also give teens the opportunity to explore the vast intellectual opportunities that art has to offer. Young members of the Galesburg community are often inspired by Artist’s Residency held each year.

“The Civic Art Center runs an artist residency program each year called Studios Midwest which houses four artists from anywhere in the world. We invite a certain number of artists, pay for housing, have them work on art for 8 weeks, and hold an exhibition at the end of the 8 weeks,” said Miller.

The current exhibit welcoming community viewers from all walks of life is the GALEX exhibit.

“GALEX is a nationally juried exhibition and competition. The 2010 GALEX is the 44th year we have held the exhibition,” said Norman.

Although the GALEX exhibit is confined to one room, its presentation of a diversity of art forms is truly impressive. It exposes viewers to an arrangement of sculptures, photography, oil paintings and mixed media pieces among other types of art.

Some exhibit highlights included the recipient of the Merit Award for an oil painting called Motionless Moments, the recipient of the Purchase Award for a mixed media piece called More than Merely Ourselves, the recipient of the Fine Print Award for photographs called Hair and Ear and Hummingbird, the recipient of the Medallion Award for a Giclee print called Child Shiva and the recipient of the Award of Excellence for a sculpture called Cytokinesis.

The GALEX exhibit, like other exhibits at the Civic Art Center, is so captivating because the variation of subject matters parallels the variation of art forms.

According to Miller the Exhibition Committee chooses the art for the exhibitions based on artist work that is different, intriguing and original.

Even untitled artwork, like the oil on wood piece covering the back wall of the exhibit, creates a powerful impact on the common spectator. Artwork of this type can be appreciated as a thing in itself, apart from human experience, which is why the Civic Art Center makes a point not to establish a quota for the number of sculptures or paintings in a particular exhibit.

Local artists, in addition to artists outside the Galesburg community, are often inspired to submit their work to the Exhibition Committee upon learning about the quality and variety of art that the Galesburg Civic Art Center showcases in major monthly exhibits.

“We show contemporary artwork but mostly the work of regional artists. Occasionally, we show international artists,” said Norman.

While displaying the work of artists within the community gives the people of Galesburg an opportunity to demonstrate artistic talent, bringing artwork from different regions of the country to the Galesburg Civic Art Center broadens the learning experience of local visitors.

In fact, it helps to accomplish the larger mission of the Civic Art Center — to “educate, develop, and maintain quality exhibits and programs that both entertain and visually challenge the community,” to “enhance, or increase, visual awareness” and to “enrich, or cultivate and develop appreciation for the visual arts.”

Galesburg’s ties to outer communities can be strengthened through a shared artistic experience.

Norman certainly emphasized that, saying, “Art should be a part of every community. Art enriches our lives. It gives new ways to relate to each other as human beings and allows us opportunities to express ourselves in ways that words are not always able to achieve.”

The GALEX exhibit will continue to evoke pleasure and artistic contemplation among spectators until April 10, and the Merging into the Future exhibit will start to display Galesburg High School artwork on April 16.

Elise Hyser

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