For many artists, having an original work displayed proudly in a museum or gallery, gazed upon and admired by art lovers and fellow artists alike, is the ultimate dream.
But here at UC Davis, aspiring artists need not wait until a modern art museum picks up their work. The Basement Gallery, a student-run art gallery with the express purpose of showcasing works created by UCD undergraduates, does exactly that.
Basement Gallery co-director Jennifer Urrutia said the gallery is a good steppingstone for the student artists, many of whom have never shown their work in a gallery before.
“It helps [them] build confidence in continuing to put up their work,” she said.
The Basement Gallery was founded in the late 1990s and ever since has provided a place for students to showcase their work in several different exhibits throughout the year. Located in the basement of the Art building, it is run entirely by students, who are responsible for promoting the exhibit and collecting submissions.
The first exhibit of the 2009-2010 school year was launched Oct. 22 and ends today. It included art from nearly every medium, ranging from oil paintings and ceramics, to pencil drawings and photography.
Lead organizer Daniel Zaks, a senior physics and art double major, said the current exhibit contains over 40 pieces. The only requirements, he said, were that the student must be a UC Davis undergraduate and the work must have been created over the summer.
“We sort of left [the gallery] ‘as is’, and tried not to shape it too much but let the students experiment as much as possible,” Zaks said.
As a result, even Zaks and his fellow directors were surprised at the number of submissions received and the artists’ enthusiasm for the gallery.
“I wasn’t expecting people to know about it as much as they did,” Urrutia said. “And then when a bunch of people, with all different mediums, just came in and brought their work, wow.”
Senior English major Brad Petering brought three drawings from his series Everyday Objects Saying Profound Things to the Basement Gallery and was excited for the chance to display his work in a public setting for the first time.
“I’ve never had anything hanging up in a gallery setting before,” said Petering, who has never taken an art class. “All my paintings are hanging up on the walls at our house, so [my roommate] recommended I bring it down there.”
Following the Basement Gallery, Petering is now working to have his work featured in other galleries around Davis.
Alison Depsky, a senior evolution, ecology and biodiversity major, also jumped at the chance to show her oil on canvas piece, “Classico,” at the Basement Gallery.
“It’s really cool,” she said of seeing her work displayed. “I like to be able to see everyone else’s work along with [mine].”
One of the main objectives of the Basement Gallery is to provide student artists, many of whom are not art majors, a place to receive feedback on their work and connect with fellow artists in a way that is difficult to achieve in the classroom.
“We’re not judging anyone,” said senior Laura Thatcher, another gallery director. “And by doing that, in creating a dialogue, we’re also creating a community.”
The organizing committee hopes that the gallery will increase awareness among students of the art programs here at Davis.
“A surprising number of people don’t even know that there is an art building on campus,” Zaks said. “I think it’s important that people see that [UC Davis] is not just an agricultural research institution, but it has another dimension to it.”
The Basement Gallery will begin accepting submissions for its next exhibition after the close of the current exhibit, so be on the lookout for flyers. Otherwise, visit the Basement Gallery or its Facebook group for deadlines and more information.
ROBIN MIGDOL can be reached at email@example.com.