In response to regional growth, FMU has opened their new art gallery, University Place Gallery, in downtown Florence.
FMU had been gifted the old post office at 142 N. Dargan Street in downtown Florence, and after renovations, the first floor was repurposed for the gallery and the second and third floors are now office spaces for the Kelly Center’s offices and business incubators.
The first show in the University Place Gallery is the “Visual Arts Alumni Juried Exhibition,” which exhibits 63 works created by 35 FMU alumni. It will be displayed from Sept. 3 – Oct. 8. The last day of the exhibit will close with a reception with some of the artists.
Gallery Coordinator Colleen Critcher said that since this was their first exhibit, they felt it would be a good first impression to have an alumni show.
“As this is a gallery that is being operated by FMU, I think it’s a fantastic testament to the work our alumni are doing,” Critcher said. “It’s a great way to introduce the community to the space and to get people excited about the prospects of the future, because it is so many different voices – a lot of them are local, some of them are out-of-state. The university does great things for the community and they should embrace that. I think an alumni show was a fantastic fit.”
According to Critcher, FMU’s decision to further their artistic outreach could have major ramifications for Florence.
“The Performing Arts Center has done amazing things for downtown Florence and I think this gallery is going to do the same,” Critcher said. “We’re already seeing things changing on this block: property values are going up and there’s lots of construction. It’s just a matter of time until more people start popping in here.”
Critcher said part of the appeal of this gallery downtown is that it brings various artwork from different artists directly to the community as opposed to only having exhibits on campus.
Critcher said the next exhibit will be the “South Carolina Watermedia Society’s 2019 National Annual Exhibit,” which is a nationally juried show featuring watercolor, acrylic and gouache paintings from across the country, and it will run until the end of December. Also, the following show in 2020 will be a solo exhibit by Charlie Mills.
Critcher said there will be six shows a year and each exhibit will be determined through either submission or selection by a faculty board. She said the gallery plans to host special events every Saturday, including lectures and artist talks. The gallery will also be available as a rental space.
To help students prepare for their 499 senior seminar class, where they have to create and execute an exhibition of their work, Critcher said she would like to have student volunteers in the future for removing artwork and installing new artwork.