The Wyeth Family Studio Art Center was dedicated Sept. 29 at the University of Maine honoring the legacy of the three generations of internationally recognized artists intrinsically linked to the state’s storied visual arts tradition.
“This is a remarkable gathering of people who love art and love the University of Maine,” said UMaine President Paul Ferguson, looking out over the audience of more than 275. “We want to use this day to reaffirm the central role of art and the appreciation of art in who we are as humans.”
“Our vision in the Blue Sky Project is to aspire to be the most student-centered and community-engaged of the American research universities,” Ferguson said. “This is a perfect example of what we want to be known for at the University of Maine — a place where students learn, grow and are inspired, and where the community comes together to understand our role and mission.”
Artist Jamie Wyeth, the son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth, was among the dignitaries attending the ceremony. In his remarks, he reflected on his first tour of UMaine’s art facilities in 2001, when he was on campus to receive an honorary degree, and the progress made since then to create a new center for art education named in his family’s honor, which he called “quite extraordinary.”
If just one student “walks into that (new) studio space — as I did over 40 years ago in my grandfather’s studio — and catches fire, it will all be worth everything,” Wyeth said of the long-awaited arts facility.
David Michaelis, the author of two national best sellers, including “N.C. Wyeth: A Biography,” spoke on “Father. Mother. Front Porch. Easel, the Wyeth House of Masters.”
“The endurance of the Wyeths as a family in art says something about who we’ve become and what we still value,” said Michaelis.
The dedication ceremony included tours of the new facility led by UMaine faculty and students. In one of the painting studios were works by students who had never before taken brush to canvas.
“We get a lot of students who are first-generation college students and going to be first-generation artists,” said UMaine artist and professor James Linehan. “That’s what I love about teaching — and about teaching in Maine. It’s our hope and desire that our new art facility will become a beacon for young artists from everywhere, but especially from small towns in Maine, that they can get a first-rate art education in first-rate studios right here in Maine at a public university open to everyone.”
The Wyeth Center is UMaine’s new studio art facility, located in the recently renovated Stewart new media/art complex on campus. The more than $10 million renovation of Stewart was made possible with funding from gifts; grants, primarily from the Maine Technology Institute; and state bonds.
The private donations included a $1 million naming gift in honor of the Wyeth family that was made possible through the efforts of Maine business leader Charles Cawley and Bank of America. Generous gifts also were received from Bangor Savings Bank and members of the UMaine Class of 1963.
UMaine’s Department of Art annually offers dynamic, interdisciplinary programs in a challenging, supportive environment for more than 130 art majors, more than 80 students minoring in art, and 300 nonmajors. UMaine offers a B.A. in art history, art education and studio art, and a B.F.A. in studio art. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
The Wyeth Family Studio Art Center is part of a three-phase capital campaign to support UMaine’s leadership in 21st-century visual arts education in the state and to recognize the longstanding, vibrant art communities across Maine.
The first phase of the UMaine capital construction campaign for the arts was completed in 2006 with the renovation of UMaine’s historic Lord Hall to house the art education and art history programs.
The Wyeth Center includes a Wyeth Painting Studio, as well as classrooms and studios for printmaking, photography and 3-D design. The Hartgen Drawing Studio is named in honor of the founder of the University of Maine Department of Art, artist Vincent Hartgen.
Also located in 43,600-square-foot building is the university’s new Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center, home to the Department of New Media.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745