April 05, 2016
Communications and Marketing
After a year-long renovation process, the Alva de Mars Megan Chapel Art Center opened to the college community on Monday, April 4, hosting a special preview day where the community viewed new acquisitions and selections from the permanent collection. The gallery will also host an opening reception for the public on Thursday, April 7 from 6 - 8 p.m.
Coinciding with Benedictine Heritage Week and the Feast of the Annunciation, the reopening marks the completion of the repairs and restoration that closed the gallery in April of 2015 following the collapse of a flat plaster ceiling.
"We are most grateful to all who have assisted us along the way and encouraged us with the utmost care," says gallery director Fr. Iain MacLellan, O.S.B., speaking about the reopening. "It is my sincere hope that our preview day will be for all of you a joyful revival on many levels, both as an aesthetic experience, and as a collective witness to the mission and vision we all share."
As part of the gallery's celebration, English professor Gary Bouchard read a poem he wrote specifically for the occasion, "Dei Gravitas." The six-part work, a meditation on "falling," ceremoniously marked the reopening of the gallery with a nod to the Feast of the Annunciation.
The artwork on display, drawn from more than 400 works in the Chapel Art Center's permanent collection, includes a variety of figural and landscape paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
The show features selections from the gallery's MacDonald Collection, dedicated to religious works, several works from the gallery's collection of women Modernist painters, and pieces from notable artists in the New England region. Visitors can also see the most recent acquisitions, several that were obtained while the gallery was closed for renovations and are now on display for the first time.
Artworks included are James Abbott McNeil Whistler's Limehouse (1878), a lithograph by Edouard Vuillard (1899), and Rembrandt's The Presentation in the Temple with the Angel (1630).
Limehouse was created using a lithotint process that Whistler pioneered. In this example, Whistler employs the medium to achieve an atmospheric depth and subtlety of tones. The appearance of the water in the piece has the look of a watercolor painting or ink wash, and contrasts with the hard lines used to delineate the masts of ships visible in the distance.
Vuillard's work was printed to serve as the cover of an album of limited-edition prints depicting various interior and landscape scenes titled ‘Paysages et interiours'. The print depicts a male, whose back is to the viewer, and a female figure sitting and facing one another. Described as a semi-claustrophobic scene, the cramped surrounding room is a visual display of varying surface textures, patterns, wall coverings, and furniture.
The Presentation in the Temple with the Angel is a tiny etching measuring four inches in height. In this print, Rembrandt combines two significant episodes drawn from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:29-32 and Luke 2:36-38) in which Mary and Joseph bring the infant Christ to the temple in Jerusalem. An early example of Rembrandt's work as a printmaker, the work will be on display for the first time, having only been introduced into the collection last summer.
Maggie Dimock, assistant curator at the Chapel Art Center, emphasizes how this show is particularly satisfying, especially after the last year's exhibition, "Reverie: Realizing a Collection," was cut short.
"This show gives us the opportunity to finish the task we set out for ourselves last year with Reverie, which also sought to highlight particular strengths of the Chapel Art Center permanent collection," says Dimock. "It is a pleasure to be able to pick up where we left off, and to present a bevy of new and vibrant artworks."
The reopening will also bring along new spring events and programs. On Friday, April 22, as part of the Fine Arts Series, there will be a concert showcasing the Saint Anselm College Music Performance Faculty. On Wednesday, April 27, Director Fr. Iain, and Dimock, will lead a guided viewing of the exhibition, introducing the new acquisitions and discussing the evolution of the permanent collection.
The opening show will be on display until May 13.
In the News
Story by Rosemary Lausier '16
Photo by Cory True '09