Arts Society celebrates six years of successful Give Your Heart to Art Events

Bridget Melloy of Barrett Barrera Projects + Gallery offers a sneak peak at the “Apex Predator” exhibit, coming to Radford in 2017-18.

For six years the Radford University Arts Society has gathered at Give Your Heart to Art events. They have enjoyed evenings of pleasant spirits, good food and friendly company, while growing the Radford University Art Museum’s Collection.

This year’s Give Your Heart to Art evening, held Jan. 20, 2017, in the Covington Center for the Arts celebrated donor generosity. The evening provided guest speakers, a first look at upcoming exhibitions, and a special showing of work purchased with proceeds from previous events.

Attendees mingled with President Brian Hemphill and first lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill at a cocktail hour before enjoying a lavish dinner. Looking over the large crowd enjoying their meals, Margaret Devaney, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, made a welcome address thanking donors for their generosity in helping raise four million in arts endowments. Then past Arts Society president, Kathleen Harshberger, gave a brief history of the Arts Society.

Richard Bay, Professor of Art and a key organizer of the event, introduced the Give Your Heart to Art exhibition, special guests and announced the upcoming additions of two new pieces Donna Kirk is donating to the collection. One is Henri Matisse’s “Nu Bleu II” (“The Blue Nude”) and the other is Peter Max’s “Descending Angel.” Both are color lithographs.

After dessert the crowd headed into the Radford University Art Museum for a sneak peak at two major exhibits coming in 2017-18. For this, Bay introduced special guests, Jeffery Hartz of the Hartz Gallery and Bridget Melloy of the Barrett Barrera Projects + Gallery, both located in St. Louis, Missouri.

Melloy stood before three pedestals featuring sculptures of predatory high couture (fashion items accentuated with rows of human teeth – Melloy mentions these are the same types of teeth used in dental implants). These items by the London-based duo Fantich & Young are part of their “Apex Predator” series, which is coming to Radford.

“Their Apex Predator project, an outgrowth of Darwinian Voodoo, was inspired by the 2008 financial crisis,” their bio states. “Luxury consumer goods augmented with ritualistic items such as teeth, bones, and hair represent the banking community and its escape from criminal prosecution. Darwin’s notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ is called into question when society is faced with banks whose criminal actions went unpunished. The financiers thus become the titular Apex Predator – topping the food chain, facing no real threat, and possessing perhaps a touch of the supernatural.”

Also on hand in the museum was a video by site-specific installation artist Erin Turner. During the next museum season, Turner will create a large tornado-themed piece within the museum’s gallery space. Both these exhibitions will be accompanied by student presentations from across the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

And then there was the exhibition – a large group of hand-pulled prints by well-known contemporary artists, which Museum Director Steve Arbury and Bay, with guidance by Hartz, procured for the collection. Hartz took a moment to discuss each piece and identify the artists.

“The idea originally for Give Your Heart to Art was to not only to build a new permanent collection with this art but to have representative pieces by major artists for students to be able to enjoy and study,” Bay said. “We now have a Picasso, Warhol, Dine, Baechler, Stella, Johns, Chamberlin, Motherwell, Miro and more. The base is in place to further add to the range and magnitude of the collection.”

To help whet the appetite for expanding the collection, Hartz brought several other available pieces. These included a Whistler, a Rauschenberg, photograph by contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman, amongst others. Event organizers hope individuals or small groups of donors will come forward to purchase a piece or two for the collection.

Next year’s Give Your Heart to Art will coincide with the February Fantich & Young exhibition. Individuals who wish to share in the premier of this should contact the University Advancement office and join the Arts Society so not to miss out on this special opening and event.

Jan 31, 2017
Leslie King