CSU Partners with Acclaimed Painter to Create Learning Center Devoted to his Art

Bo Bartlett, Tim MesconCOLUMBUS, Ga. -- Columbus State University and noted American painter Bo Bartlett announced Thursday the creation of The Bo Bartlett Center at CSU’s College of the Arts in downtown Columbus, Ga.

This interactive learning center and gallery on the second floor of CSU’s Corn Center for the Visual Arts overlooking the Chattahoochee River will house more than $10 million in artwork and will represent the world’s largest collection of Bartlett’s monumental paintings.

Bartlett is an American contemporary realist painter born in Columbus, Ga., in 1955 and educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work, lauded by the likes of legendary artist Andrew Wyeth, has been showcased at galleries across the globe.

The center bearing his name will house more than 300 paintings and drawings, as well as the complete archive of sketch books, correspondence, journals, recordings, photographs, artistic notes, memorabilia, objects and objets d’art relevant to the production of Bartlett’s work.

A rotating exhibitions gallery will feature the work of artists of national and international acclaim. These artists will also teach master classes in the center’s studios, in addition to Bo Bartlett’s annual Holistic Painting Master Class.

“I’m at a point in my life where I want to give back to this community,” Bartlett said. “I’d also like to share the wonders of my hometown with the larger art world. I want national artists and art lovers to be able to experience the beauty of this region. And I would like to provide the opportunity for young people in central southwest Georgia who want to learn the skills necessary to become an artist, to stay right here, at home.”

Seed money from Shannon Illges Candler, Otis and Sandy Scarborough, Jimmy and Ruth Yancey, and the Norman and Emmy Lou Illges Foundation will allow the university to hire an executive director for the center and begin planning the physical space for the center. Award-winning architect Tom Kundig (of Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle), in conjunction with Columbus architects Hecht Burdeshaw, have designed an 18,425-square foot interactive gallery on the RiverPark Campus of Columbus State University. The red brick, former textile warehouse turned gallery space overlooks the Chattahoochee River in Bartlett’s hometown, Columbus, Georgia. It is another example of the active role Columbus State University has taken in revitalizing downtown Columbus, now home to several academic units, more than 350 beds for student housing, a dozen university buildings and an urban whitewater course.

The mission of The Bo Bartlett Center will be to enhance the success of students at all levels through its on-site experiential learning opportunities and outreach programs, including archival resources, master classes, exhibitions and lectures featuring acclaimed artists and scholars with international reputations. Several American master artists have already agreed to teach and exhibit at the center, which will also host Bartlett as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art at Columbus State University.

“The Bo Bartlett Center is among the most exciting educational opportunities with which I have been associated in my 30-year career in higher education,” said Richard Baxter, dean of the university’s College of the Arts. “It will be truly transformational in its impact on the study of visual arts at Columbus State University and in its creation of economic synergies with other arts programs in the College of the Arts.”

A Columbus-based Board of Advisors to the center is working to organize a National Board of Visitors that will include some of the nation’s most prominent arts supporters.

Their goal is to create in CSU’s visual arts program the same kind of national prominence that has emerged with the university’s Schwob School of Music and the world-class arts facilities built in downtown Columbus, both of which show the dedication to the arts by this community and its university.

“I believe The Bo Bartlett Center will be a milestone in the history of this university,” said Columbus State President Tim Mescon. “We are setting the direction now for an interactive learning center that will create a national and international presence for the visual arts programs that will be comparable to that enjoyed by music.”

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Print media: Full-resolution, uncropped photo, from above

Photo caption:
Painter Bo Bartlett, left, pauses with Columbus State University President Tim Mescon during the announcement of the new gallery and interactive learning center devoted to Bartlett's art in CSU's Corn Center for the Visual Arts on CSU's RiverPark Campus in downtown Columbus, Ga. Bartlett created the painting behind them, North Country, earlier this year. (Photo by Tamma Smith)