Construction Begins on Bo Bartlett Center, Corn Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University’s College of the Arts held a news conference Monday, October 24 to celebrate the beginning of construction on enhancements to the Corn Center for the Visual Arts. The project will include the renovation of the second level that will house the Bo Bartlett Center and a new west façade and porch that will provide entryways to both the Bartlett Center and the Illges Gallery.


“I am excited to see these projects moving forward,” said Chris Markwood, CSU president. “Just as we are finishing our project for education and nursing on the north end of downtown, these renovations on the Corn Center will allow us to fully utilize this beautiful arts complex. These will be great additions for CSU and Columbus.”

“This project is another example of the public/private partnership that has propelled our university and city to national prominence,” according to Rex Whiddon, director of development for CSU’s College of the Arts. “We are deeply indebted to our dedicated Board of Advisors and a cadre of generous donors. Without their commitment and generosity, this project, which is being funded solely by the private sector, would not be possible.”

The interior of the repurposed building will feature three galleries, a grand lobby, archive and administrative spaces. Programming will include a range of multidisciplinary approaches to creative learning drawing from dance, film, theater and music, as well as the visual arts. The center will offer lectures and symposia, as well as master classes by Bo Bartlett and a wide range of other artists from across the world. The center will house a collection of Bartlett’s historically important narrative paintings, sketchbooks and ephemera that tell the story of Bartlett’s journey as an artist.

“The center will provide innovative programs that will give Columbus State University national reach through ongoing collaborations with a diverse network of museums, art schools and universities across the country,” added David Houston, executive director of the Bartlett Center.

The new west façade and porch will provide a view of the Chattahoochee River and bring a new focus and presence to the Corn Center, providing increased visibility and circulation for both stories of the building, including a passenger elevator. The wood clad steel structure, designed by Studio Outside and Shipley Architects of Dallas, Texas, will also feature a new entrance to the Illges Gallery and a covered plaza that will be used for events and as an exhibition space.

For more information about the Bo Bartlett Center, contact David W. Houston, executive director of the Bo Bartlett Center, at 706-507-8044 or Rex Whiddon, director of development for CSU’S College of the Arts, at 706-507-8430.


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CSU’s Bartlett Center Gifted $50,000 from Late Ambassador’s Foundation

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Ambassador and American media mogul Walter Annenberg commissioned renowned artist and Columbus native Bo Bartlett for an official portrait during the 1990s.

Nearly 30 years later, that Pennsylvania appointment painting inspired the late ambassador’s family foundation, The Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles, to gift Columbus State University’s Bo Bartlett Center with $50,000.

“This gift expands our already strong local and regional support to the national level,” said David W. Houston, executive director and chief curator of the center. “This reflects the center’s mission as a national art institution with a strong impact on the local community. It’s the first major gift outside of Georgia. Bo is a master of portraiture — from politicians to composers to everyday people. When he completes a portrait like the one he did for Ambassador Annenberg, his work has a special magic to it.”

Annenberg was the publishing powerhouse behind The Philadelphia Inquirer, creator of Seventeen magazine and developer of national publication TV Guide.

With a profound interest in education, Annenberg founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1971.

From 1969 to 1974, Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, Great Britain. By the 1980s, he sold his publishing and broadcast enterprises and devoted his attention to supporting public service, philanthropy and the arts.

Now, part of Annenberg’s art advocacy extends to Columbus. Next year, the university will open the Bo Bartlett Center, a 18,425-square-foot interactive gallery on the second floor of the Corn Center for the Visual Arts on CSU’s RiverPark campus.


The multidisciplinary space will feature more than 300 paintings and drawings produced by Bartlett. It also will house his complete archive of journals, sketchbooks, photographs and other memorabilia.

“We plan to use this donation to support outreach efforts such as our visits to local public schools, homeless shelters and community lectures,” Houston said. “This donation helps us with our goal of collaborating with leading institutions around the country to provide artistic community projects that make an impact.”


Visit to learn more about the Bo Bartlett Center. Also, visit for more information about Bo Bartlett.


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Bo Bartlett Center to Open in Late 2017

Designed by Olson Kundig, Center is a Public/Private Partnership Dedicated to the Arts, Creativity and Collaboration

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The top floor of a former cotton warehouse on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, transformed by Tom Kundig, of the internationally renowned architecture firm Olson Kundig, will be unveiled as the Bo Bartlett Center in late 2017. Part of the RiverPark campus of Columbus State University, the center will encompass 18,425-square-feet of gallery, archive and multidisciplinary programming spaces.

This vibrant addition to the Southeast’s visual arts community is named after James “Bo” Bartlett III (born 1955, Columbus, Georgia), who is recognized as one of the leading figurative painters of his generation. Construction on the project begins August 2016.

Bo Bartlett Center Architectural Rendering

A unique partnership between a living mid-career artist and a state university, the center will house more than 300 paintings and drawings of Bartlett’s, as well as his complete archive of sketch books, correspondence, journals, recordings, photographs, artistic notes, memorabilia, objects and objets d’art.

Located on the second floor of the Corn Center for the Visual Arts as part of the College of the Arts at CSU, the Bartlett Center will serve as a catalyst for arts collaboration across the campus and around the country, with a full scope of exhibitions and programs that will encourage experimentation and bridge art forms, including music, dance, theater, film and visual art. As a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art, Bartlett will conduct annual workshops at the center. A rotating exhibitions gallery will feature the work of visiting American artists of national and international acclaim, who will also teach master classes. In addition, the center will offer a full range of educational outreach and programming for the surrounding region, with a particular focus on providing access to art training and the development of creativity for traditionally underserved communities.

Admission to the center will be free.

“The mission of the Bo Bartlett Center is to explore creativity and learning within the context of the work and studio practice of this supremely talented and generous native son, Bo Bartlett,” said David Houston, executive director of the Bo Bartlett Center. “This center of creativity and experiential learning is based on a holistic approach to art and life that embraces the foundational role creativity plays in our everyday experience.”

The interior renovation of the repurposed building will feature four galleries with sliding and pivoting walls for dynamic spatial flexibility and adaptability; grand lobby; interactive research center; storage and archive space for Bartlett’s work; and office and reception areas. Soaring 23-foot-high ceilings in the main gallery will accommodate Bartlett’s large-scale works. A large skylight that runs the length of the building will introduce natural daylight throughout the space.

Olson Kundig is a Seattle-based design practice dedicated to the idea that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people. The architecture team is led by Tom Kundig, design principal, and project managers Edward Lalonde and Angus MacGregor.

“As an adaptive reuse project, the Bo Bartlett Center represented a wonderful opportunity to reinforce how natural, creative and inspiring surroundings can have a positive effect on people’s lives,” said Tom Kundig, principal and owner of Olson Kundig.

Bartlett’s vision reflects his upbringing in a small southern town, where storytelling was an important part of life and tradition, and his complex mural-scale figurative paintings are deeply laden with personal history. His style and approach can be understood in the tradition of such noted American artists as Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and three generations of the Wyeth family. Bartlett’s work has been acquired by numerous private and public collections, including Crystal Bridges of American Art, Denver Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Seattle Art Museum. Bartlett lives and works in Columbus, Georgia, and Wheaton Island, Maine.

“I am honored to partner with Columbus State University,” said the artist. “I am particularly thrilled about our plans to reach out to young people, who perhaps haven’t had the opportunity to unlock their creativity and realize their potential. There was nothing like this when I was growing up in Columbus. But now that I am back in my hometown, I can’t think of a better way to give back.”

CSU is building a national and international reputation in the arts, especially with the development of its RiverPark campus in downtown Columbus, Georgia. This thriving cultural district includes the Riverside Theatre Complex, Corn Center for the Visual Arts and the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art performing arts complex that houses the Joyce and Henry Schwob School of Music.

“The establishment of the Bo Bartlett Center underlines CSU’s ongoing commitment to and excellence in the arts and its conviction that creativity is a powerful catalyst for innovation and advancement in the 21st century and beyond,” said Richard Baxter, dean of the College of the Arts at CSU.

For more information, please visit

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