Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Anderson Gallery, 45 Years of Art on the Edge

"Desert Mountains" - Oil on Canvas ©Mary Montague Sikes
When I received my VCU arts STUDIO alumni magazine, I was excited to read the article about the new book, The Anderson Gallery, 45 Years of Art on the Edge. From the moment I first set foot on the VCU campus in the late 1970s, the Anderson Gallery became one of my favorite places to visit. I was struck by the far out contemporary art always featured in the space. Later on, I was honored to be a part of some of the shows there.

When it was time for my graduate thesis exhibition, I was thrilled that it took place in Anderson Gallery. My large mountain paintings glowed in the perfect gallery lighting. "Desert Mountains" is a 48" x 84" oil painting that was part of that show. Along with 11 other students in my MFA painting class, I spent two years going full time to earn my master's degree. We had visiting artists from New York and California who taught us so much as we got the chance to watch them work in the old school turned studio building along with us. Anderson Gallery was the center for it all.

Bernard Martin is one of the authors of the book about the history of the gallery. I was a student in his painting classes for a couple of years before I was accepted into the master's program. He was an outstanding instructor who taught me so much about making art.

One of the pastel working drawings from my graduate thesis show is part of the permanent collection of the Anderson Gallery. A few months ago, I received a letter from the gallelry informing me that it would be moved to the new location.

The Anderson Gallery was an important part of my years at VCU. I cherish my memories from those days.