Former Director Celebrates Gallery’s Impact

During the closing celebration of The Gallery at UTA’s 25th anniversary show, “Silver,” this Saturday night, former director Al Harris-Fernandez will look around the room and reminisce.

Twenty years ago, he was guiding the burgeoning gallery – then called the Center for Research of Contemporary Art – and creating a unique home for the work of prominent artists from across the nation.

“My background was running an artist organization,” Harris-Fernandez said about his work prior to joining the UT Arlington family in 1991. “I came at it [directing the gallery] from the perspective of the artist and how artists should be treated, placing work in the middle of what we doing.”

During his short tenure at the gallery, Harris-Fernandez said he was most proud of an exhibition called “Abstraction Continued,” which showcased the work of abstract artists from New York, Canada and Texas. He was also thrilled to include so many Texas artists in an installation series.

“[The Gallery at UTA] went beyond being a teaching gallery,” he said. “It’s an exhibition space that has national and regional impact. It’s not only providing a service to students, but it is engaging the contemporary art community.”

Harris-Fernandez, currently director of the Sioux City Arts Center in Sioux City, Iowa, left UT Arlington in 1994 to create a new gallery on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo. He said he used The Gallery at UTA as a model for his work in Buffalo.

The former director will join the gallery’s original director Jeff Kelley and current director Benito Huerta at 12:30 p.m. Thursday for a panel discussion in the Mainstage Theatre of the Fine Arts Building. The anniversary celebration will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in the gallery’s main room.

For more information about the anniversary show, log on to the gallery’s website.

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