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Art Center Opens

By Suzanne Reffel
On April 28, 2009

The Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center opened and was dedicated on Friday, April 3. The new art building provides a proud new home to the university's Bluemner Collection as well as additional exhibition space for art students and faculty.

Oscar Bluemner was an American modernist painter whose outstanding art was overlooked during his lifetime. However, his daughter, Vera Bluemner Kouba, recognized her father's talent and continued to push for his recognition even after his death. Today Bluemner is widely acknowledged as one of the key figures in American art in the first part of the 20th century.

According to Roberta Favis, curator of the Bluemner Collection, Bluemner's daughter is the razon dentra for the creation of this wonderful new building. "Vera Bluemner Koubla performed an act of faith when she left her most precious legacy to Stetson University," Favis said. When Koubla died in 1997, she bequeathed more than a thousand of her father's works and archival materials to the university.

The new art center was built to house the unique and valuable collection. The Bluemner collection can now be properly displayed and conserved in the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center. "All great art is the work of the whole creature, body and soul and chiefly of the soul. Mr. Bluemner's soul certainly shows in these rooms," Cici Brown said, Chair of Trustee Facilities Committee.

This 5000 square-foot center was made possible by a lead donation by Stetson Trustee and alumna Dolly Hand and her husband Homer in combination with a generous grant from the Volusia County ECHO (Environmental, Cultural, Historical, Outdoor) Program.
Homer and Dolly Hand both attended the dedication and were proud to see the beautiful facility they helped make possible. Dolly Hand spoke of when they were first approached about donating saying "Our hearts went out. Our hearts went out to the Bluemners, and the need for what they had to offer." As a result, the Hands were moved to make the Art Center.

The $2.2 million facility includes two galleries, a large seminar room, a reception lobby, a curator's office, a vault for archival storage and a preparation area for conservation and framing. One of the galleries will be home to the Bluemner collection (which will be displayed on a rotation). The other gallery will serve as an exhibition space for the university's 500-piece permanent collection or other special shows.

During the month of April, four senior thesis exhibitions are on display: an imaginative ceramics exhibit by Sabrina Fernandez, an interactive video experience by Sean Kinberger, a multimedia piece (incorporating televisions screens) depicting American media by Jaclyn Miller and a series of large colorful oil portraits by Sara Hagan.

The Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center surely is a valuable campus resource that serves an array of purposes while bringing great art to the university and the surrounding community. In the words of Michael Fronk's litany dedicating the building, "Within these walls and under the instruction of inspiring faculty, may students discover their own voices and be liberated to speak a truth that can only be expresses through their art."

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