Expanded gallery, new study center, and animated façade designed by Randy Shull reopened to the public with an inaugural exhibition of work by Susan Weil
Asheville, NC….Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC), in Asheville, NC, completed the first phase of its expansion project with the renovation of its current facility led by artist and designer Randy Shull and BMCM+AC Board Chair J. Richard Gruber. The renovated gallery space reopened to the public on January 30, 2015, with an exhibition of work by Susan Weil, an alumnus of the profoundly influential Black Mountain College (BMC) (1933-57). The new Center for Black Mountain College Studies and redesigned orientation area are also open following the month-long renovation.
Visitors to the just-completed facility at 56 Broadway in Asheville’s vibrant arts district encounter elements of BMC at the front door. To enter, they walk over a photographic image of Josef Albers imbedded in the concrete threshold. The influential artist, who taught at BMC from its establishment through 1949, is seen speaking with students along with his famous description of a teacher’s essential role: “to open eyes.”
Shull said, “Walking over the image is truly eye opening and provides an engaging way for visitors to begin their Museum experience even before entering the orientation center. The pristine gallery is designed to be flexible and includes moveable cases for display and storage. The passageway to the Studies Center in the rear is intentionally narrow to create a transition from the open gallery to a more intimate space for reading, research, and reflection.”
In the orientation area, an original wooden sign from the College is suspended from a laminated wood canopy inspired by a feature of the BMC’s pottery shed. Beneath the canopy-painted the same orange-red color incorporated in Albers’s logo for BMC-books about the College are exhibited. The modular and moveable display system, made of Southern yellow pine, allows for special events, functional variation, and future growth.
Established in 1993, BMCM+AC
celebrates the history and legacy of Black Mountain College and honors its role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts. The College attracted an extraordinary roster of gifted individuals-many central to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism-including Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessix Gray, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Olson, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Cy Twombly, Peter Voulkos, Jonathan Williams, and many others whose impact on the arts continues today.
Materials in the new Studies Center serve to introduce newcomers to the College’s story
as well as provide seminal resources for well-versed enthusiasts. Window displays and wall text, multi-media encounters, and Bauhaus-inspired café-style seating are designed to connect with visitors of all ages.
Dr. Gruber, Board Chair, stated, “The entire BMCM+AC program including,
most notably, our renovation and expansion, evokes the spirit of Black Mountain College. Randy Shull enthusiastically embraced the project and brought to his work meticulously considered design elements, materials, and historic details-constantly innovating and fabricating everything from light fixtures to floor treatments to furniture. Our visitors experience the Bauhaus aesthetic imported by faculty members such asAlbers, de Kooning, and Xanti Schawinksy who were central to the development of the College’s pedagogy and, in the case of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, its physical space. We are very grateful for the support of the Windgate Charitable Foundation as we look to preserving and extending the legacy of this extraordinary time and place.”
Phase two of the BMCM+AC’s expansion project will more than double the current space and comprises a new 1,400-square-foot gallery and 800-square-foot storage area in a building across the street at 67 Broadway, owned by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. Scheduled to open in summer 2015, it will feature a temporary exhibitions gallery and create storage space for the Museum’s growing collection of artwork and materials by BMC faculty and alumni. The original gallery space completed in phase one will then focus on rotating displays of materials and objects from the BMCM+AC collection and archive. The expansion also allows the BMCM+AC to extend its current schedule of programs.
The Sixth Annual BMCM+AC [Re]HAPPENING takes place on Saturday, April
4, 2015, from 3:00-10:00 p.m., on the grounds of the former BMC Lake Eden campus in Black Mountain, NC. The immersive, multi-sensory experience of art, performance, and dining takes place in the Dining Hall as well as on the surrounding outdoor campus and is organized in collaboration with The Media Arts Project. For more information visit: www.rehappening.com.
About Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) was founded in 1993, in Asheville, NC, to preserve and pay tribute to the history and legacy of innovation of Black Mountain College (1933-57) and to acknowledge the College’s role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts.
With its emphasis on the individual rather than the institution and its striking success in attracting people of great talent and originality, the College drew a roster of gifted mavericks, some of whom went on to become well-known and highly influential in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes: Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessix Gray, Ray Johnson, Karen Karnes, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Arthur Penn, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Jonathan Williams and many others who have impacted the world in a significant way.
BMCM+AC’s programming targets both the historical importance of the College and the many ways that its legacy remains relevant and vital today with exhibitions, seminars, panel discussions, publications, film and video screenings, and oral history interviews with surviving BMC faculty and students. www.blackmountaincollege.org