Art exhibit features restored works from MCC’s permanent collection

By Amy Huber, Editor –

MCC’s current art exhibit combines both history and learning.

“I would say that the primary goal of this exhibition is to put on display early works from

the collection not just because they are ‘old,’ but because many of them represent important local

and regional history that will be lost if we don't research and record it now,” said Keith Downie,

art instructor.

“LeVitrier,” a print by Dean Jackson Meeker, is a part of the current exhibit at Overbrook Art Gallery. It is also exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. - Bay Window photo
“LeVitrier,” a print by Dean Jackson Meeker,
is a part of the current exhibit at Overbrook
Art Gallery. It is also exhibited at the Art
Institute of Chicago. – Bay Window photo

The exhibit, titled “Artwork from MCC’s Permanent Collection,” runs from March 13

through April 23, with a public reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 23.

Downie is teaching ART 250 Gallery/Collection Practicum, a course where students learn

the ins and outs of museum curating. Students are taught proper handling techniques and care of

artworks.

“We’re learning how to place pieces together so they complement each other,” said

Corena Golliver, a student in Downie’s class. “These are little-seen works that have been around

the college for a long time and are therefore in need of restoration, particularly on the matting.

We are learning how to frame, show, and exhibit with real-life examples.”

Students assist art faculty in the basic operations of the Overbrook Art Gallery. The class

has spent the semester restoring, matting and re-framing MCC’s permanent collection.

“The permanent collection is now over 50 years old and part of my class’s effort is to

ensure that these works last another fifty years,” said Downie. “We've taken measures to improve

the physical state of the pieces in the exhibit – particularly works on paper – by removing them

from framing materials that are a threat to their longevity due to the use of poor quality matting

and backing. This was very common at the time most of these works were originally framed. So

now we've remounted and re-matted all of them in archival grade materials.”

Students are also researching artists. Due to the age of some of the works, efforts are

being made to find the artists and gather information while they are still alive.

“We are also doing research about the artists and their respective works,” Downie said.

“Because most of these artists are known only locally or regionally, there are not extensive

biographical or art historical records about them.”

One of the pieces in this exhibit is a watercolor by Adde Lou Garter entitled “Slopes.”

This piece from 1979, which won an award in an art educators’ exhibit, was painted from

memory.

“I painted in watercolor because I had the love of the medium of watercolors,” said

Garter. “I like the happy accidents that happen.”

While Garter was an easy artist to find and learn a history of her piece, some of the other

works are more difficult. On one in particular, the signature is difficult to read. The piece itself

appears to be from the Sixties.

“A small collection like this one does not contain many masterpieces,” said Downie, “but

there are many very fine works that represent the efforts of regional artists, and perhaps most

importantly, these works document significant local art history. We’re working hard to uncover

the history before it gets lost.”

“Slopes,” a watercolor by artist Adde Lou Garter of Muskegon, is among the artwork currently on display at Overbrook Art Gallery. The exhibit features art from the MCC permanent collection, and most of the works were recently restored, rematted, and reframed by students in ART 250 Gallery/Collection Practicum. - Bay Window photo.
“Slopes,” a watercolor by artist Adde Lou Garter of Muskegon, is among the artwork
currently on display at Overbrook Art Gallery. The exhibit features art from the MCC
permanent collection, and most of the works were recently restored, rematted, and reframed
by students in ART 250 Gallery/Collection Practicum. – Bay Window photo.

One problem Downie’s students have encountered is that the materials used when these

works were produced are far different from those used today, particularly the matting. Older

materials tend to degrade the artwork, but newer more advanced materials tend to protect them

from having that happen. Nearly all the art in the current exhibit was re-matted.

One of the most valuable pieces of the collection is an abstract expressionist sculpture

from 2003 of two fish by artist G. Kamrowski titled “Single Parent.” Originally purchased for a

couple hundred dollars, it has increased in value through the years. According to Downie, the

increased value of this piece is because the artist was an acquaintance of Jackson Pollock, a

famous abstract expressionist.

The oldest piece in the exhibit is from 1965, a landscape painting titled, “Iowa City

Bridge” by the late Pete Caesar, a local artist.

 

Featured Image: Among the most valuable pieces in the current Overbrook exhibit is this sculpture titled, “Single Parent” by Gabriel Kamrowski. The artist was an acquaintance of famous artist Jackson Pollock. -Bay Window photo.

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