Department of Art to host First Wednesday Art Gallery – Western Courier

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Tabi Jozwick, Courier Staff

The Department of Art will be hosting First Wednesday at Garwood Hall and the Heating Plant Annex for both the Western Illinois University and Macomb communities today from 7 to 9 p.m.

 “First Wednesday is essentially an ‘open house’ that is hosted by the Department of Art,” said Tim Waldrop, professor of art at Western. “Each of the Department of Art’s facilities including Garwood Hall, the Heating Plant Annex and the University Art Gallery has been utilized for this event series. The art faculty, as well as a select number of currently enrolled art students, have combined their efforts to offer creative, ‘hands on’ activities to visitors.  The event is free, open to all ages, and welcomes visitors from campus and the surrounding community/region.”

 Two years ago, art professor Susan Czechowski came up with the idea to introduce the community to art events similar to those in larger city art galleries called First Friday with the addition of a generous grant from the Performing Arts Society and donations from Dick Blick.

 “First Friday galleries are opened,” Czechowski said. “People can go around and see what is going on. The University Art Gallery will be opened as well and there will be two wonderful exhibitions (by Resa Blatman and Shayla Marsh) that people can go and enjoy there too.”

 From painting and pottery to woodworking and metalsmithing, there is a form of art that anyone can learn and try out.

 “People can participate in one activity or they could participate in all activities,” Czechowski said. “They can come and get their hands dirty and make something in the ceramics room, work on a wire wrapped pennant in medal-smiting, make a silkscreen in printmaking and do a monotype. They can try out what is going on.”

 Waldrop shared which professor does each art style for the event and the importance of implementing different artistry impacts the artistic environment of First Wednesday.

 “You can print a monotype with Professors Jan Clough, Julie Mahoney and Bill Howard, bring your own t-shirt and create a style of your very own with Professors Jenny Knavel and Czechowski and paint with Professor Damon McArthur,” Waldrop said. “Learn about graphic design with Professors Terry Rathje and Bruce Walters, children can enjoy a workshop with art associate professor Ta-Teh Ku and the art education students, make your own wire/wrapped pendant with interim art department chair Kat Myers and the metalsmithing students and get dirty in some sculpture with associate professor Duke Oursler.”

 Waldrop believes that First Wednesday is beneficial for the art department to encourage Western students to take an art class and possibly become art majors.

 “The primary reason for developing and initially offering this event series was to ‘recruit’ current WIU students (non-art majors) to enroll in courses offered by the Department of Art,” Waldrop said. “The faculty hoped to use the event to potentially alleviate the current decline in enrollment. Czechowski is credited with the concept of the event.”

 First Wednesday allows both the Western and Macomb communities to get a glimpse of the art studios at Western.

 “If you have been curious about what goes on in Garwood Hall and the Heating Plant Annex or the University Art Gallery, now is your chance,” Waldrop said. “Please come by and make some art.”

 “Maybe you’re a student on campus and didn’t know that you could take drawing or printmaking or medal-smithing and you could come over and try it out,” Czechowski said. “It’s great for students, great Wednesday night activity, it’s wonderful for freshmen. We have lots of families come with children in our art education area.”

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