Art Gallery Naming Puts Focus on Donors’ Vision
May 2, 2019
A decade ago, as founding chair of the School of Art advisory council, Gardner Gillespie led the effort to draft the school’s vision statement.
“The School of Art is founded on the premise that art both reflects and inspires a creative society, improving the human condition, while describing the world both as it is and could be,” Gillespie wrote. “We focus on the role of artists in that conversation, and encourage students to see art both as individual expression, and public interaction.”
On Thursday, April 24, that inspiring vision was the focus of the dedication of the Gillespie Gallery of Art, at the Art and Design Building on the Fairfax Campus. The gallery is named in recognition of the generosity of Gardner and Stevie Gillespie, who last year established a scholarship fund for School of Art students in an amount of up to $1 million.
Rick Davis, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, described the gift as “a lasting legacy that will have a transformative impact on the School of Art and, most importantly, on the lives of the Gillespie Scholars.”
The ability to offer scholarship support is essential for the quality of the school, Davis said, because scholarships attract the best students, who in turn attract the best faculty.
Not only do the Gillespies lead by example through their generosity, Davis said, but “Stevie and Gardner continue to create community for the arts at Mason,” including by bringing area artists and galleryists to Mason for collaborations.
University president Ángel Cabrera added at the dedication that “In the arts, scholarships are absolutely essential. The faculty will tell you, without scholarships, a lot of the potential talent around us would just go to waste.”
“It is an honor and an incredible pleasure to put your name on this very special place,” Cabrera said to the Gillespies. “We are going to be incredibly proud to call this space the Gillespie Gallery. Thank you so very much for what you’ve done.”
The Gillespies’ gift includes both a current use component, which benefits deserving students right away, and a future endowed fund, which will ensure scholarships for the long term.
“We are very proud and grateful that we are privileged enough to be able to support scholarships for deserving students,” Gardner Gillespie said.
The dedication was attended by faculty and friends of the School of the Art, along with the Gillespies’ children and their spouses: Nat Gillespie and his wife Elaine Menotti, and Clara Ferraro and her husband Vince Ferraro.
The inaugural exhibition at the Gillespie Gallery, Geometric Abstraction in Latin America, will be on view through April 30. The exhibition is curated by Gabriela Rosso of Rofa Projects.