Spotting the Show - Art students learn the keys to a great exhibit by Jarad Petrosky

Art students hang paintings

With multiple galleries, plenty of exhibitions and a permanent collection containing hundreds of pieces, the students enrolled in HSU’s Art Museum & Gallery Practices certificate program make university spaces come alive with beautiful and frequently intriguing pieces of art.

In the program, students learn the art of managing museums and galleries. This includes everything from deciding where the pieces will go (known as “spotting”), to the actual hanging and mounting of the work. Plus there’s the publicity, which includes drafting media releases, designing post cards and flyers, and more.

“From the perspective of an artist, I’ve really learned a lot about how it works on the other side of things. When you know how a gallery operates, it makes it a lot easier to get ready for a show as an artist. It’ll make them want to work with you again,” says Malia Penhall, a student assistant in the program.

Some exhibits can be straightforward, containing relatively few pieces. Others? Not so much.

One exhibit called for more than 300 miniature toy guns to be hung in the Reese Bullen Gallery. Enterprising students designed and built a special grid system from zip ties and monofilament to hang the work. After the show came down, the students were so fond to their grid they wanted it to stay. Michele McCall-Wallace gave her okay, as long as it didn’t shadow other pieces. From a visitor’s perspective, the grid has the appearance of a well-designed architectural feature.

When Humboldt magazine caught up with the program’s students, they were busily spotting the department’s annual juried show, a showcase of the best work in the department. The students enrolled in instructor Wallace’s Art 356 class were paring down more than 300 entries into the few dozen that made the cut.

“With so many styles, media and genres, we’re trying to make a cohesive show,” says Penhall, a student assistant. She also serves as director to the Student Access Gallery, which exhibits student work at three galleries across campus. In less than 24 hours, the gallery was ready for the show’s opening night, which included an awards ceremony and reception. The show’s biggest prize, the Presidential Purchase Award, was presented to Rebecca Babb for her acrylic and oil on canvas painting, “‘Oh, Deer’.” As part of her award, Babb’s piece will join the campus’ permanent collection.

In 2012, Department of Art retired its annual juried show. Taking its place is the inaugural graduate exhibit, April 18 to May 18.

HSU's Art Scene

First Street Gallery

Located at 422 First St. in Eureka, the First Street Gallery hosts artists from around the globe. First Street is always one of the most popular spots at Eureka’s Arts Alive!, the first Saturday evening of every month.

Goudi’ni Gallery

Located on campus in the Behavioral & Social Sciences Building, this gallery preserves and promotes indigenous culture by highlighting the work of contemporary and traditional Native American artists. The gallery exhibits about four shows a year.

The Permanent Collection

Students in the Art Museum & Gallery Practices certificate program manage the campus’ permanent collection, which contains more than 1,000 pieces. Every year a few pieces of student work are added to the collection.

Student Access Galleries

In three venues—Karshner Gallery in the UC Center; the Foyer Gallery in the Art A Building; and the SBS Gallery in the Student Business Services building lobby—students gain gallery exhibition experience, presenting four shows per semester at each location.

art students preparing for a show

TOP: Student assistant Malia Penhall (center) guides two art students in spotting the Department of Art’s juried student exhibition. Spotting refers to the placement and arrangement of pieces in an exhibit. TOP: The exhibit’s hand-lettered signage is not only eye catching, it underscores the hands-on approach of Department of Art’s curriculum. MIDDLE LEFT: Students in the Art Museum & Gallery Practices program work on final touches to the exhibit’s publicity materials. MIDDLE RIGHT:A student hangs a piece before the show. BOTTOM: Patrons fill the Reese Bullen Gallery. This April, HSU’s Department of Art inaugurates a new capstone exhibit, the Graduate Exhibit.