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New gallery opens downtown

Located next to Moe's on University blvd, "The Venue" plans to open November 3. November 2. CW/ | Bryce Denton

Elizabeth Manning

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For Paul R. Jones, gathering and collecting artwork became a hobby that has now become a huge benefit to the University of Alabama. 

            The late lawyer amassed a collection of over 1,700 pieces, worth almost $5 million. 

Among the works are pieces by Clarissa Sligh, Carrie Mae Weems and Emma Amos.

            According to a recent UA press release, the gallery will exhibit the massive collection of artwork in parts. Works by affiliates of UA, including students, will also be showcased in the gallery. The current works being shown in the gallery are by Sheila Pree Bright and will be shown Oct. 6 through Nov. 18.

            Bright is a photographer based out of Atlanta, Ga., who focuses on African-American subjects for her work. In more recent years, Bright has emerged with more contemporary work and has turned her focus more toward depicting the realistic view of African-American society, according to a biography on her website. 

            The current collection in the gallery was curated by a digital photography class at UA. 

            The College of Arts and Sciences has the responsibility of storing and caring for the pieces not in rotation in the gallery. 

Miriam Norris, the curator of the collection, is currently working to catalog and repair the art. 

            “The storage area is climate controlled, and I keep multiple humidifiers in the room so the art stays dry,” Norris said during a tour of the storage space. 

            Norris said some of the art has mold due to the way it was stored previously, and she has to be careful not to let the spores spread to other pieces in storage. The storage room houses rolling racks, as well as room for stacked storage. 

            “Students should look to the gallery, the storage room, and other on-campus sites, like the Hoole Special Collections, as an opportunity for learning.” Norris said. 

            Dean Robert Olin of the College of Arts and Sciences developed a friendship with Jones over the years, and that friendship was instrumental in Jones’ gift of the collection, said Katie McAllister, the art gallery’s director.

            The goal of Jones’ donation was an educational one. He wanted the collection to be used by both students at the University and the Tuscaloosa public to gain further understanding and appreciation for African-American art.

            McAllister said the gallery will show no more than 25 pieces of art at a time and will try to have at least two different exhibits per semester.  The University plans to renovate two loft spaces above the gallery in order to house artists who travel to the University to speak to students. 

            The opening of the gallery coincides with its inclusion in Tuscaloosa Art Nights, sponsored by Kentuck, which take place the first Thursday of every month.  November’s art night will include a program put on by New College, the Westervelt Music Festival, Art Kitchen and the exhibits in both the Jones gallery and the Harrison gallery, located just down the street.

            The gallery is located by Sips and Strokes in downtown Tuscaloosa at 2308 6th St. and is open weekdays. 

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
New gallery opens downtown