Seeing it all at the art gallery

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

There is an interesting aside in how the seats for King and Marvel were installed. One afternoon a semi-trailer arrived on campus and parked in front of Gregory Hall – still the student union.

The driver dismounted and asked: “Anyone want to make 50 bucks?” Of course they did and after selection proceeded to Rockefeller and unloaded and placed the seats. The driver only had to bolt them on.

My connection with the art wing was only as a part of my duties as Instructional Resources Director. One day Vice President J. Carter Rowland called me and asked if we could take a picture of some offensive graffiti sprayed on the walls by a protesting professor. (This same professor would later put up an installation in Reed Library that was possibly the greatest fire hazard this school ever saw – a whole hallway draped in torn up newspaper.)

I also remember the first time a figure study class had a live model. Paper covered the studio windows and a Public Safety, (now University Police), officer guarded the stairs.

Another oddity in the building was the black tile floors. You could always track down a ceramics-pottery student.

The Art Gallery saw many interesting, and to some offensive, displays but imagination prevailed.

The gallery had its role, to this day, as a venue for receptions. Before it was disbanded the Faculty Social Committee, of which I was chair for a time, spent their funds, collected from the faculty at a rate of one tenth of one percent of their salary, on a Christmas reception and a well stocked liquor cabinet was used. (This committee also had a fall picnic at the Lodge and a spring banquet where lavish gifts were given to retirees-like Steuben Crystal or engraved golf clubs. The funds were also used for sympathy flowers and gifts for those who were sick.)

Art displays were not limited to the inside gallery. Many exhibits took place outside the building. (One was picked up by building and grounds since they thought it was a pile of boards.) An outside kiln was constructed – another pile of boards.

On the hill next to Rockefeller, (man-made from the excavations for the Pei Complex at the request of Douglas Carter), is a grouping of stainless steel figures whose official title is “Conversations” but some refer to them as “the tinmen”.

There was supposed to be an extension of the “spine” to terminate in a band shell but this was never finished.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.