The Bo Bartlett Center is an 18,425 square foot interactive gallery space, housed on the River Park campus of Columbus State University. 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 is a dynamic, creative learning laboratory that is part community center, part gallery/museum, and part an experimental arts incubator. Based on the belief that art can change lives, the Center has a twofold mission: grassroots community outreach programs to the local public schools, disabled adults, the homeless and prisoners; and a national mission to partner with other institutions and collectors to provide innovative exhibitions and programming that deepens our understanding of art in America, both past and present through exhibitions, publications, and public programming. One of the newest and most unique cultural institutions in the country, the Center is poised to take a leadership role in art, community, and creativity, one that creates a new paradigm for leadership, 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 sketch books, correspondence, journals, recordings, photographs, artistic notes, memorabilia, objects and objects d’art relevant to the production of Mr. 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 art work matched with the archival documents relating to that work provides unprecedented opportunities to explore insights into the multi-level process of artistic creation.
A rotating exhibitions gallery features the work of visiting American artists of national and international acclaim who also teach master classes. This gallery is available for traveling exhibitions from neighboring museums and universities throughout the Southeast. On occasion, this gallery also exhibits pieces from CSU’s Permanent Collection of more than 500 works of art and objects such as the Benno and Babette Rothschild New Guinea Collection. A third gallery will consist of an interactive research center where students and scholars may access Mr. Bartlett’s archival materials either physically or in digitized formats. The entire Center will be designed as an interactive learning environment. With the addition of a College of the Arts library on the CSU RiverPark Campus adjacent to the Bo Bartlett Center, 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, Mr. Bartlett conducts annual workshops through the Center. The artist will premiere his new works at the Bo Bartlett Center gallery before their exhibition in other museums and galleries across the United States. Giving students 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 will be an unparalleled resource for students, the public and scholars of art.
PHOTOS © MATTHEW MILLMAN