Warhol, Rauschenberg accent art exhibition 

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Western Michigan University courtesy photo

An exhibition that took months of preparation is now open for viewing in the Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery at Western Michigan University’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., in Kalamazoo. 

“We’ve Only Just Begun: Celebrating a Century of Collecting Art at Western Michigan University”  features approximately 82 works by artists from around the world, including Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Other notable pieces include original artwork from “Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1,” edited by Stan Lee and “Martin Luther King” (1986) by Reggie Gammon, inspired by a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at WMU in 1963.

According to Tanya Bakija, Coordinator of Exhibitions, Richmond Center for Visual Arts at Western Michigan University, some of the works were collected from various buildings around campus over the summer. The pieces chosen are not meant to represent the “best-of-the-best” of the collection, but are a sampling of the breadth and scope of the collection and installing the exhibition took a little more than a month.

The exhibition highlights major artistic movements and examines the university’s collecting patterns over the years, which began in 1922 with a donation of books and paintings from Kalamazoo politician and philanthropist Albert May Todd, a chemist and businessman who made his fortune producing peppermint oil.

Todd’s collection serves as the centerpiece from which WMU’s art collection has grown in the hundred years since he gifted the initial works of art – a collection that was widely renowned at the time. 

“The research involved for the exhibition is incredibly important, as there are some gaps of information from over the years. This research is presented within the exhibition in text panels and other didactic labels to provide viewers with additional information and context about the work and how it relates to the collection and/or the art world at large,” said Bakija. 

According to curator and director of exhibitions Indra K. Lācis, Ph.D., the exhibition brings together a range of media from diverse geographic areas, time periods and styles.

Lācis and student gallery assistant, Katie Mumby, spent months researching the collection which includes examples of American Impressionism, European Neoclassicism and Romanticism, Japanese and Chinese ceramics, Art of Asian and African origin, 20th-century Modernism, as well as Pop art and a range of painting and printmaking after World War II. 

“We’ve Only Just Begun: Celebrating a Century of Collecting Art at Western Michigan University” is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are: Wednesdays – Fridays, 12 – 5 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 4 p.m.

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