The Bo Bartlett Center is an 18,425 square foot interactive gallery space, housed on the River Park campus of Columbus State University in downtown Columbus, GA. The red brick, former textile warehouse turned gallery space, designed by AIA award-winning architect, Tom Kundig, sits on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Bartlett’s hometown, Columbus, Georgia. As a cornerstone of the College of the Arts’ Corn Center for Visual Arts, the Bo Bartlett Center is a pivotal element in the continued emergence of a national and international presence originally established by the College’s Schwob School of Music and its Legacy Hall. Complementing exhibitions in the CSU Department of Art’s acclaimed Norman Shannon and Emmy Lou P. Illges Gallery, the Bo Bartlett Center serves as an experiential learning center and cultural hub for the visual arts while affording visitors a broad range of arts experiences offered within the College’s arts district.
ASPIRATION AND MISSION
The Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University is a dynamic, creative learning laboratory that is part gallery/museum, part experimental arts incubator, and part community center. Based on the belief that art can change lives, the center has a two-fold mission: community outreach programs that help facilitate an inclusive environment by encouraging participation from diverse voices, and a national mission to partner with other institutions to provide innovative exhibitions that deepens our understanding of art through publications and public programming. The center is a unique cultural institution that is taking a leadership role in the broader University and Columbus arts community and creating a new paradigm for innovation and service.
The Bo Bartlett Center houses and displays The Scarborough Collection: 14 monumental paintings by Bartlett. Additionally, the center houses more than 300 paintings and drawings as well as the complete archive of sketchbooks, correspondence, journals, recordings, photographs, artistic notes, memorabilia, objects, and objects d’art relevant to the production of Bartlett’s work. These holdings reveal the intellectual rigor and spiritual discipline involved in the process of developing a single work and a sustained artistic oeuvre. The estimated value of these gifts to the center is in excess of $10 million. This combination of original artwork matched with the archival documents relating to that work provides unprecedented opportunities to explore insights into the multi-level process of artistic creation.
The Candler, Hecht, Waddell, and Yarbrough Galleries feature the works of visiting American artists of national and international acclaim who also teach master classes at the center. These galleries are also available for traveling exhibitions from neighboring museums and universities throughout the United States, as well as special exhibitions. A sixth gallery, the Cheves Archival Gallery, features Bo’s Brain, an interactive research center, where students and scholars may access Bartlett’s archival materials either digitally or in digitized formats. The center’s curator continually broadens the collection by actively seeking the donation of sketchbooks, journals and archival materials of other noteworthy American artists interested in a permanent repository for their work.
As a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art, Bartlett conducts periodic workshops through the center. He also premieres his new works in the center’s Scarborough Gallery, before their exhibition in other museums and galleries across the United States, giving students and scholars access to each new painting and the accompanying sketchbooks, studies, and journals.
By combining the exhibition elements of a contemporary art museum with the master instruction of a living American painter of international stature, his major works, and the insights of his archives, the Bo Bartlett Center is an unparalleled resource for students, the public, and scholars of art.
PHOTOS © MATTHEW MILLMAN