Global Visionaries

From the The Brunswick News

Walking into Left Bank Art Gallery you cannot escape the breadth of artwork on display. The walls are covered with bright marshland landscapes, vast abstracts of city skylines, still lifes of fruit and paintings of waterfowl that show a range of subjects not easily defined into a single category.

And that's the point for the gallery's current exhibit, "Art of the World," on display until Sept. 30.

The cacophonous collection is part of the gallery's mission to incorporate cultural aspects from around the globe by working with leaders within the Coastal Georgia community - in this instance, College of Coastal Georgia.

By dedicating the exhibit to Gregory Aloia, president of the college, gallery managers hope the showcase will serve as a welcome for the new president and a continuation of fostering arts here and abroad.

"The 'Art of the World' exhibit came about because we heard Dr. Aloia's mission about creating a global environment and also focusing on the arts and humanities in everyday life, not just in academic settings," said Dayna Caldwell, director of Left Bank Gallery, 3600 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island.

"We have had an international influence on our exhibits since the '70s, and combine that with the college's mission for raising global awareness, the idea seemed like a good fit to do something to celebrate Dr. Aloia's tenure and bring everyone within the art community together."

Artists whose works hang in the exhibit live as close as Brunswick and as far away as France, Spain and Russia.

"We aren't featuring specific artists, but rather an international collection. Russian, Spanish, French ... they hang all alongside each other, and we intersperse them with local works to create this feel that our owner, Mrs. (Mildred) Wilcox, believes about Coastal Georgia as part of the international community," Caldwell said.

That desire for sharing and expressing international cultures is shared by college president Aloia.

"Our mission statement makes it clear that global awareness is part of the education experience of this college," Aloia said.

"I envision a 30/30 approach: to have 30 different countries - with as many as 30 students each - represented on this campus, assuring that every student will have the opportunity to break bread, study and socialize with a varied and rich representation of global geography and culture."

Aloia, who will attend an opening reception from 4:30 to 7 p.m. today at the gallery, isn't the only college staff member excited about cultivating a cultural community that extends beyond the shores of the Golden Isles.

Jeff LeMieux, assistant professor of arts at College of Coastal Georgia, will be at the gallery opening and will have a selection of his own pieces hanging in the exhibit.

"We have a vibrant arts community here. There's a lot of talent. I see it everyday at the college," said LeMieux, who has been on the faculty for 11 years.

"The college is stepping into a visible role, and it's very exciting. When I first joined the staff, I told administration then that to be taken seriously as a community-involved institution, we needed a community-involved gallery. They listened through the years and now we are getting the student gallery soon," he said.

Moving from a couple of classrooms into the Coastal Community Center for the Arts with a ceramics room and plans for a dedicated gallery on campus will exemplify the college's commitment to the arts, LeMieux added.

Besides the dedicated space for student shows, there is also a collection of work from Left Bank Gallery on display at the college in the Huie-Wilcox Gallery, named for founder Mildred Huie and daughter Mildred Wilcox, in the Hargett Building Lobby on the Brunswick campus.

LeMieux hopes that bringing people together for events the college holds on campus and events off campus, such as Left Bank's reception, is a sign that the arts community is headed toward greater collaboration.

"Sometimes, I feel that the biggest issue I've seen is how splintered arts groups are by geography. It's that island living. You see your island, your community, as an entity. But with Dr. Aloia, I feel he's interested in bringing the whole community together," LeMieux said.

For Aloia, the strategy for growing the arts community fits his vision for the college as a partner highlighting local and international connections.

"With the move of our art department into re-purposed classroom and exhibit space, we'll be able to display not only the art of the Coastal Visions collection in the Huie-Wilcox Gallery - a partnership with the Left Bank Art Gallery - but also, in the Andrews Building, the work of our own students and faculty," Aloia said. "My hope is that such cultural partnerships will continue to expand and prosper."

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Release Date: 8/22/2013
Source: The Brunswick News

By BETHANY LEGGETT