University Art Museum celebrating 50 years

Backman, McKenzie works on exhibit
Conor Backman's piece, "The Sun Never Sets."
Conor Backman's piece, "The Sun Never Sets."

When the University Art Museum opened in 1967, it was the largest space in the Capital Region for exhibits of contemporary art.

Fifty years later, the art scene has grown and changed, but on the University at Albany campus, the open and airy late 20th century Modernist space designed by Edward Durrell Stone, with its grand arched windows and 9,000 square feet on two floors, is still impressive, and the museum is an esteemed venue not only for exhibits of visual arts but for education.

Since 1967, the University Art Museum has presented more than 400 exhibits of work by emerging, regional, national and international artists. It boasts a collection of 3,000 artworks. The museum is also a longtime host for the prestigious Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region exhibit.

In celebration of its golden anniversary, seven exhibits are scheduled in 2017.

The first two, “Conor Backman: A Clock and Map Minute,” on the first floor, and “Dave McKenzie: An Intermission,” on the second, opened last month and run through Saturday, April 1.

Backman’s first solo museum exhibit features recent paintings, assemblages and sculptures. With lushly depicted fruit trees, tinted glass panels, cast-resin orange peels and dissected paint cans, he expresses his interest in the history of American realist painting and the idea that we live in a world with unlimited access to information.

McKenzie is known for multi-disciplinary performances, sculptures and videos that look at the larger truths in every day words and images.

“An Intermission” is a project of translucent banners made with archival and contemporary sources. Henry Kissinger, Dora the Explorer and a life-size Andy Warhol doll appear in four videos.

In October, the museum will take a fresh look at some of the early pieces in its collection and see how they relate to current trends in contemporary art.

“When We Were Young: Rethinking Abstraction from the University at Albany Art Collections (1967-present) will feature work by Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly and many others.


“Have a Seat,” an outdoor exhibit of decorated Adirondack chairs, is returning to Glens Falls this summer.

The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council (LARAC) debuted the popular public arts project in the summer of 2011, when colorful chairs were scattered around downtown for the enjoyment of both locals and tourists.

Artists who would like to participate in this year’s project are asked to submit an application and design proposal by March 31. Selected artists will be notified by April 7 and receive a $75 stipend.

Chairs must be completed by May 5.

The chairs will be exhibited from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and in September, an auction will be held, with proceeds benefitting LARAC.

For more info and applications, visit or call 798-1144.

Reach Gazette Reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197, [email protected] or on Twitter @bjorngazette.

Categories: Art, Entertainment

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