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Brenau gala to celebrate 135 years, Downtown Center

POSTED: March 19, 2014 12:32 a.m.

It’s an event 10 years in the making.

“We just tried to reflect back on what had been the cornerstone of what we have been from the beginning,” Brenau University Vice President for External Relations Matt Thomas said. “It just seemed that now was the perfect time to have an event of this nature.”

The Brenau Gala, following the theme of “The Art and Science of Brenau,” returns after a decadelong absence to celebrate the university’s 135th anniversary and to formally open the Brenau Downtown Center to the public.

“We wanted to do something special to launch the Downtown Center, and everything that we were going to do around the Downtown Center seemed to blend into the gala,” Vice President of Communications and Publications David Morrison said.

The event is March 29 at the Brenau Downtown Center.

“(The gala) has been something that has been part of our history,” Thomas said. “In the past, they were just specifically focused on the art and I think that’s another reason why we connected to the arts and sciences. That facility is going to be used for the pursuit of a doctorate of physical therapy so that scientific aspect is certainly ingrained in that facility.

“It’s a nice balance to be able to walk through those halls and also see a gallery of Manhattan-based artists around you,” he said. “It’s just good for the soul, and I think it really is an embodiment of what we’re trying to do for our students.”

The art portion of the evening officially opens the school’s Manhattan Gallery on display at the Downtown Center, featuring long-standing pieces from the university’s art collection along with new works.

“I think the Manhattan Gallery just fell into place because of the fact that we’ve had such a strong history with that part of the world,” Thomas said. “Certainly with Dorothy Vogel and the collection that we received from the Vogels, that just really came into focus.”

Vogel and her late husband were avid art collectors. The couple has donated more than 100 works to the university. She will be a special guest of honor at the March 29 gala.

Some of what’s been donated by the Vogels will be on permanent display in the Downtown Center’s Manhattan Gallery.

The Vogel collection includes artists such as Giuseppe Napoli, Hank Virgona and Daryl Trivieri. The Manhattan Gallery will also house pieces from Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler and Andy Warhol.

Even if unfamiliar with the art world, guests will be reminded of home in at least one of the pieces.

“I put a Robert Rauschenberg piece in there that has a giant chicken,” Director of Galleries Melissa Morgan said with a laugh, referring to the poultry industry in Hall County. “And I thought, ‘Oh, that has got to go. It’s got to be downtown. It’s got to be by the giant chicken on the square.’”

Along with the permanent gallery, some pieces will be auctioned both at the event and beginning this week online.

Thomas said there should be information about online bidding on the Brenau website, brenau.edu, by the end of this week.

The black-tie-optional formal event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a tour of the new facility and the art auction. Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by dancing.

“It’s going to be a great event,” Thomas said. “We are just excited that we’re able to bring the Brenau Gala back to the community. It will be a wonderful event, and we’re just hoping anyone who can come is able to make it out.”


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