Gallery to host Morgan Collection


Laura Testino

Beginning Jan. 16, The University of Alabama Art Gallery at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center will showcase “The Morgan Collection – Selections,” an exhibit composed of pieces from the Permanent Collection at the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art. The exhibit features pieces amassed by late gallery owners Jim and Myra Morgan, both graduates of the University.

Vicki Rial, the exhibitions coordinator at the Sarah Moody Gallery, said the Morgan Collection, donated by the Morgan family in 2007, offers a timeless quality.

“The good humor of [the artwork] is not dated, and the sadness is not dated,” Rial said. “The human emotion that’s found in the works is still present in the world, so I think that anyone who looks at it should be moved by it.”

This particular quality could be attributed to the fact that the artists Jim and Myra Morgan chose to work with were both well-educated and well-trained, she said.

Bill Dooley, director at the Sarah Moody Gallery, said he views the incorporation of multiple artists in the collection as a distinctive feature.

“The collection is interesting; it’s kind of a snapshot of a period of time, the early ’70s to the mid-’80s, primarily,” Dooley said. “Although [Jim and Myra Morgan] were in the Midwest, they represented artists from all over the place. That’s consistent with our own collection, which has a regional flavor, but it also is a national collection.”

While Dooley said he never met Jim Morgan personally, contact with other artists in the collection has revealed Morgan offered more to the world of art than just his artistic ability.

“A lot of gallery owners, they’re just trying to sell your work … I think Jim Morgan was just a lot more engaged, authentically engaged with the work,” Dooley said. “I think these artists really responded to that because it was kind of unusual to have that kind of enthusiasm.”

Tom Wegrzynowski, an art professor at the University, said he hopes his students, as well as other audience members, can appreciate Morgan’s dedication. He encourages all students and the community to take advantage the showcase.

“The really big thing is to see work in person — being able to see work in person, and stand in front of it, and really understand what it looks like, that’s irreplaceable in learning about art,” he said.

Wegrzynowski teaches a course examining art history since World War II and said he recognizes themes of contemporary art in the collection.

“When we start to get into more contemporary work, [artists] look for ways to combine different disciplines together,” he said.

While Morgan studied painting at the University and has three paintings in the exhibit, he was also interested in sculpture, Dooley said.

“There are a few other sculpture pieces that exhibit … a fairly sophisticated quality of craftsmanship,” Dooley said.

“The Morgan Collection – Selections” can be viewed at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 7. Viewers are encouraged to attend a public reception that will take place Jan. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.