Art Gallery Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Daniella Amendola, Editor-in-Chief

The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery is 10 years old this year.

The gallery opened in 2009, and it has hosted varied exhibits, from the labyrinthine “Deadly Medicine” exhibit to the classic busts of Rodin.

Lalaine Little, Director, said there had been a space for art on campus for some time prior to the current gallery, named after Pauly Friedman, the first president of the art gallery’s board in 1977.

Friedman was active in the community, serving a number of charities in Luzerne County.

The gallery is celebrating with multiple events.

One recent popular attraction was a workshop by paper artist Colette Fu of Philadelphia. Fu was  born and raised in the US, but she traveled to her ancestral home in China to photograph her mother’s culture and then turned them into these enormous pop up books, Little said.

“So there are some that are room-sized and open by physically walking and opening the book. And hers, they’re more of a manageable size, but she was teaching different techniques of pop up for our workshop attendees.”

Another event was a visit of local classical guitarist Patrick Temple, who also will offer lessons this fall.

“And then we had a sneak preview of the ‘Post Secret’ exhibition, and then we had demonstrations of the Li Hongbo sculptures and then tours of the Cai Dongdong photographs,” said Little. “So it was a multi-sensory experience, I hope people found.”

Little said all events were popular because people enjoy things that are different.

“People like seeing things that they have never heard of. I think that’s been the most common reaction here, ‘I’ve never seen these before,’ or ‘I’ve only seen these on Youtube; I’ve never seen anything like this in person’— that’s for the Li Hongbo stretchable sculptures. For the photography, they are intrigued by the service we provide of giving tours and being able to talk to somebody about the artwork. Getting a fuller explanation of it, they’ve been pleased with.”

“PostSecretX,” the newest  exhibit, is somewhat known, Little said, but some people will be surprised by it.

“Some of them, the postcards, or the secrets that are revealed, are going to be innocuous, and some of them are going to be a little bit more personal and intimate,” said Little.

Little hopes that exhibits show visitors the range of visual expression and encourage them to seek out art in the university’s space and in spaces around the county.

In the past ten years, the gallery as shown an impressive variety of art, Little said.

“They’ve had a nice balance of both local artists and more blockbuster shows of more recognizable names,” said Little.

Last spring, Little took over the position as Art Gallery Director and is bringing her a new perspective on the gallery.

“My take on it is more different in that I want there to be a stronger curricular tie-in between our students and the art they’re looking at in their classes. I want this to be a welcoming, contemplative space, so I’m just doing more almost cosmetic things. Opening the doors more often, and making sure we have someone at the front of the gallery to talk to people about things, if they have questions, make sure that they know it’s free, things like that.”

Little considers the art community and what works might inspire artists or art show-goers when she selects exhibits. She looks for works that people may not have seen before or do not know where to find.

“Things like Chinese contemporary art, there’s not a lot of venues that show it and so it would take some digging around to find it on your own,” said Little. “So we’re hoping to save people the legwork and bring them artists that they might not have necessarily heard of before.”

Next year Little will is focus on some of the university’s study abroad options, primarily Ireland. The gallery is also working with veterans’ groups.

Healing, mental health and social justice issues will always be a part of the gallery’s offerings, Little said.

“So that we have students that see art as a way to change the world,” said Little, “and I know that sounds very lofty and idealistic, but I always thing art should do something. It should be a contemplative space, a space for you to think, to be alone with your thoughts, but also a way of expressing how you want to change the world.”

“PostSecretX” opened April 6 and closes June 9.