World-Class Art Education Center to Open in Columbus Next Thursday

The stunning Bo Bartlett Center is set to open at a public ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 18. Developed in a partnership between Columbus State University and nationally acclaimed artist Bo Bartlett, the 18,425-square-foot interactive gallery brings new art and opportunity to the Chattahoochee Valley.

“This new facility on the second floor of the Corn Center for the Visual Arts on CSU’s RiverPark campus is a spectacular addition to Uptown Columbus and to Columbus State University,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “I think the Bo Bartlett Center will add significantly to this region’s growing national reputation as an incubator of young talent, and a showcase of accomplished artists.”

The center’s opening will showcase the works of nearly 30 artists, many of whom have never been exhibited in the Southeast. The opening exhibit, Peers & Influences, is Bartlett’s nod to the numerous artists with whom he feels a kinship. It will include his wife and co-curator, Betsy Eby, as well as Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

With a giant skylight and 31 x 17 foot moveable walls, the center will hold the Scarborough Collection, 14 monumental paintings by Bartlett, as well as a complete archive of sketchbooks, journals, artistic notes, and other objects relevant to the production of his works. Bartlett, who is recognized as one of the leading figurative painters of his generation, reflects in his work his upbringing in a small, southern town where storytelling was an important part of life and tradition.

“I am honored to partner with Columbus State University,” said Bartlett, who is a Columbus-native. “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.”

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.

“This magnificent facility will serve not only as the home for defining works and memorabilia of this highly acclaimed American artist, it will expand the experiential learning opportunities afforded by the center’s educational programming. It is truly an art education center,” said College of the Arts Dean Richard Baxter.

With a mission to explore creativity and learning, the center will strive to promote art collaboration and bridge art forms like music, dance, theatre, film, and visual art. As part of the Center’s grand opening, there will be multidisciplinary performances by CSU’s Schwob School of Music and the university’s theatre and dance programs.

“I look forward to the opening of this unique cultural institution in the College of the Arts at CSU,” said David Houston, executive director of the center. “We will work to add to the many unwritten chapters of the history of American art while continuing to develop our deep commitment to innovative community service.”

The ambitious project has been 15 years in the making. It is housed in a building once a cotton warehouse in a space designed by AIA award winning Seattle-based architect Tom Kindig of Olson-Kundig.