Bicknell Family Center for the Arts: From the Artist’s Perspective

I have toured the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts this week three times this week. If I am being honest, I look for excuses to have Joe Firman, Director for the Center, put me on a tour. Each tour has been a completely different experience. Each space looks new with each tour I have taken as the contractors are working furiously to complete the building. Of course, I am primarily going to the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts to see one space in particular – the still to be named large visual arts gallery space.

The large gallery space will be the most frequently visited and recognized aspect of the Bicknell Family Center of the Arts by the general public related to the visual arts. Exhibitions housed in the large gallery will be of national and international caliber providing public access to artwork and high-end visual cultural experiences not possible within a two hour drive from Pittsburg. Imagine being able to see original works by artists such as Honoré Daumier, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Andy Warhol or exhibition of works by John Henry Belter, Herter Brothers, Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles & Ray Eames, and Frank Gehry among others.

The 3,300 square feet of gallery and walls have you bend slightly backward to see the ceiling that is 40 feet above you. ‘Impressive’ does not quite relay the excitement you feel standing in the space. When I stand in the space, I see the future. The future exhibitions, the future artists working in the space, the future community laughing and enjoying the artwork and events. Naturally, being an educator, the image of students is the strongest image. When I look at the space I see my students not just in the space, but beyond it. I see them working in the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Whitney Museum or at their reception for their exhibition in a major gallery or institution. The Bicknell Family Center of the Arts is in my heart first and foremost as a beautiful and brighter pathway to my students’ successes.

Rhona McBain
Associate Professor & Chairperson, Department of Art
Museum of Art, Director

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