Celebrating 40 Years with “The Best of the Best”
Susan Soriente, LUX Center for the Arts Historical Collections Curator
A Glady M. Lux Print Collection Exhibition
Gladys M. Lux began teaching art at Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1927 and retired in 1967. Though she was no longer formally an instructor of art at that time, she continued to be involved in the University Place area arts education and exhibition. She and Betty Wallace, who succeeded her in the Wesleyan art department, decided to create an exhibition space for local artists and Wesleyan students. Together they founded the University Place Art Center and the Wesleyan Laboratory Gallery in 1977 as an independent, nonprofit educational gallery governed by a volunteer board of directors.
The first location for the art center was in a house at 4844 St. Paul St. It then moved to a one-room commercial space; its next location was at 4822 Cleveland St. Finally it found a home in the old city hall building for University Place at 48th and Baldwin. That relocation came after the city of Lincoln absorbed University Place causing the old city building to be sold for other uses. Later it was slated to be torn down, but due to the generous underwriting of its purchase by Ms. Lux and the challenge grant she initiated for the building’s renovation, it was saved, remodeled, and began a new life in the art world.
After the death of Ms. Lux in 2003, the University Place Arts Center was renamed in her honor to the LUX Center for the Arts. Ms. Lux’s long teaching career, her support of Lincoln area arts, and her patronage of the Art Center have provided ninety years of beneficial influence and sponsorship of the arts in Lincoln Nebraska. The Lux Center for the Arts is dedicated to helping visitors and artists experience and create art and believes, as Ms. Lux always told her art students, “There is an artist in each of us.”
The LUX Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary by remembering our benefactor, Gladys M. Lux and honoring her dedication and generosity to the LUX Center for the Arts. Among her many contributions to the Lincoln art scene are the artists’ prints she collected so that her students could experience art. She then donated the prints to the LUX Center as its permanent collection. As the curator of her collection, taking on the task of choosing the best of the best print in it is similar to a parent being asked, “Who is your favorite child?” It is not a question you want, you cannot answer without thinking it is an impossible task that will slight a worthy print; that all of the works are unique and each is the best in its own way; and ultimately, it feels nonsensical to choose.
But, that disclaimer aside, when it comes to artwork, we know there are exceptional pieces and artists who deserve special recognition. There are amazing artists and pieces in the Gladys M. Lux print collection and I am excited to curate an exhibition in honor of them and of Ms. Lux and her collection. Though it was hard to decide among so many impressive prints, I made my choices based on historical importance, artistic achievement of the artist, exceptional artistic skill and technique, and the uniqueness of the talent.
Included in The Best of the Best exhibition are great American artists Grand Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Two masters from early print making, Rembrandt Van Rijn and Albrecht Durer along with later European artists such as Degas, Manet, Renoir, Goya, and Picasso are among the best of the best also. Eighteen artists comprise The Best of the Best which may be seen in the second floor historical gallery from May 5th to September 5, 2017. The exhibition is curated by Susan Soriente, Curator of the Gladys M. Lux Print and Historical Collections.