The UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center has officially kicked off their Fall season and with that comes the reopening of the University’s art galleries.  

The Augusta Savage Gallery, Hampden Gallery, and the University Museum of Contemporary Art are opening their doors once again after being closed due to the pandemic.  

Zydalis Bauer spoke with the directors of the galleries to learn more about the upcoming season’s programming, the featured artists, and how the galleries adjusted during the shutdown.  


Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center has officially kicked off their fall season, and with that comes the reopening of the University’s art galleries.

The Augusta Savage Gallery, Hampden Gallery, and the University Museum of Contemporary Art are opening their doors once again after being closed due to the pandemic.

I spoke with the directors of the galleries to learn more about the upcoming season’s programing, the featured artist, and how the gallery’s adjusted during the shutdown.

Loretta Yarlow, University Museum of Contemporary Art: You know, with one hundred and sixty five people in the museum, it was cathartic just to, you know, bring back familiar faces — from the mask, from the mask up — and unfamiliar.

But also to think about how art has to be experienced in person. Though we’ve done, we’ve all done lots of great work, you know, virtually, just to be able to have people in the museum and looking at art…the experiential aspect of art is so important.

Zydalis Bauer: Now that all three galleries are reopened, what can we expect for upcoming featured artists or programing, as well as how can people access these exhibits?

Loretta Yarlow: Well, we are going to keep both the virtual and the live going because we’ve actually found there’s been a silver lining in having the virtual chats with artists. We’ve been able to access –you know, a broader public can actually speak to the artists that way. And so we’re going to continue that, at the same time having in-person events.

So for us, it will be a hybrid of both the building on the success of the the virtual online programs as well as the live events,

Sally Curcio, Hampden Gallery: Loretta said ‘silver lining’ and it’s true we have a glass show up right now and it’s international. And if we were to ship these items, they most likely would break or be very difficult. So, it’s kind of broadened our scope, too.

Alexia Cota, Augusta Savage Gallery: The Savage Gallery is also exhibiting work both online and in the gallery. Right now, we have a group exhibition by Zea Mays Printmaking, which is a local print studio, and that is up until later this month. That also includes a couple of Humanities and Fine Arts students contributed pieces to that exhibit.

And then, we’ll have a painting exhibit late this month of portraiture by an artist out of New York. And continuing with providing things virtually, we will have a virtual workshop and performance by local multimedia artist.

Zydalis Bauer: All the galleries made special efforts during the shutdown to stay connected to the students and the community. What value do these art galleries provide to the students and the public?

Sally Curcio: To be able to connect with people through art is really important, and Hamden Gallery has a sculpture garden, so we have sculptures up right now by artist Peter Dellert. That’s kind of like a nice bridge into the space. Like, no matter what’s happening with the pandemic, they can see art outside and make that connection.

Loretta Yarlow: We’re actually training students to give tours. And so we’re going to offer the students the opportunity — they’ll learn about our exhibitions and then they’re being trained to talk about the art. And we’ll be offering these tours in-person and virtual tours. So, that’s our connection to students right now, that we’re — and they’re getting course credit for it. But they’re  learning how to be spokespeople, ambassadors for the exhibitions and they’re learning about the exhibitions as they go along.

So, it’s kind of a great opportunity for them to, you know, get their hands into the profession and to meet with the public, whatever public wants to come by for the tour.

Zydalis Bauer: Speaking of ambassadors, Michael J. Bobbitt, who is the executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, recently toured different culture sites throughout the region, including the UMass Fine Arts Center. In an article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, it stated that the Mass Cultural Council reported that nine hundred arts organizations statewide had lost an estimated four hundred and eighty four million dollars due to the pandemic.

What support do you feel is necessary for arts organizations to recover and thrive post-pandemic?

Sally Curcio: There has been some funding that we’ve received, so that is good. That there has been a cut, but we’ve also received funding. I think people to continue to recognize how important the arts are to the University and to keep it in mind.

Alexia Cota: Also coming to — if one feels safe — coming to our events, visiting the spaces, seeing the artwork. And even just if you don’t feel comfortable or you aren’t able to venture out to our spaces to view the exhibitions that we have online, the digital exhibitions, and to sign the guestbook, show your support.

Zydalis Bauer: And beyond those who feel, maybe not comfortable to go to the galleries, but maybe they are comfortable, but they don’t feel like art is for them or art is their thing.

What message would you like to share with them?

Loretta Yarlow: You know, I should make it known that we’re free of charge. None of us charge entrance to the to the museum or to the galleries. And so, you know, that that’s something that I wish more people knew. I mean, clearly, students know it. Although, you know, we find people come in, they say, “Well, where’s your entrance fee and where do we pay?”

So, people can just come in and explore. That’s what we love people to know about, you know, just drop in and see for yourselves what what art can offer.