American University’s Department of Art and the Chautauqua School of Art go way back. Since 1988, Don Kimes has held joint appointments as AU art professor and artistic director in the visual arts at the venerable 140-year-old western New York institution, which has hosted American luminaries such as Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, George Gershwin, and nine United States presidents. Today, it boasts 500 faculty members and 10,000 alumni, and its summer institute attracts visual and performing art students from around the world.
Kimes’ dual appointments have led to a tradition of cross-pollination between the two schools. AU undergraduates frequently attend Chautauqua, and prospective MFA students often apply after learning about AU’s program while at Chautauqua. “It’s a very symbiotic relationship,” says Kimes.
This relationship was on vivid display in Chautauqua: A Continuum of Creativity. Showing at Denise Bibro Fine Art, a highly respected gallery in New York City’s Chelsea Art District, the exhibit featured the work of 25 Chautauqua faculty and 25 alumni. Of the 50 artists chosen for the show, 19 are connected to AU’s art department—as professors, undergraduate and graduate students and alumni, and former visiting professors.
Kimes says the intensity of Chautauqua’s summer institute often makes it a life-changing experience for the students who attend it. “They really live in their work for an incredibly intensive summer,” he says. “I recently received a letter from one saying, ‘I was up at 8:00 a.m. working and I watched the sunrise the next morning, still in my studio. If you don’t do this, you lose something.’”
Chautauqua: A Continuum of Creativity showed until February 13 in New York. For more information on the exhibit, please visit Denise Bibro Fine Art.