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Baldwin Gallery reopens to rave reviews

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Visitors view the work of photographic artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor at a special preview on Jan. 26, 2014, at the newly reopened Baldwin Photographic Gallery at MTSU in Murfreesboro. The exhibit runs through March 9. (Photo courtesy of MTSU)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Baldwin Photographic Gallery reopened Monday with a 50th anniversary celebration in a bright new space at Middle Tennessee State University, welcoming the community with a fascinating exhibit and lecture from renowned photographic artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor.

The nationally renowned Baldwin Photographic Gallery, established on campus in 1964, reopened in its brand new quarters on the second floor of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building.

In 1974, Uelsmann was one of the first major exhibitors in the Baldwin Gallery.

During a lecture held in the Learning Resources Center, he called the MTSU photography program “one of the finest in the nation.”

Now in a bright, airy space, the inaugural exhibit Uelsmann and Taylor drew appreciative crowds.

“I like that this is a very purposeful and special space,” said Angela Purinton, a 1999 photography MTSU graduate who attended the event with her husband, Steve Purinton. “I’m excited to see the attention paid to it.

Professor Tom Jimison, who serves as the gallery curator since 1991, taught the couple’s photo classes during their college years, and the Purintons said they still make a special effort to support MTSU photography exhibits, lectures and other events.

“We feel that as alumni, it’s important for us to connect with the program and to keep the artists like Jerry (Uelsmann) and Maggie (Taylor) coming to MTSU,” Angela Purinton said. “People coming to MTSU to visit can see that we have a full, rich campus with things for everyone to appreciate.”

Senior Rebecca Poole, who is majoring in photography, noted the exhibit is “incredible” as she toured the gallery with her friend Tressa Springler, a junior majoring in social work.

“The quality of this exhibit is amazing,” Poole said. “We studied (Taylor’s) work in class, and it’s so great to see this work in person and hear their lectures. What an opportunity.”

Professor Harold Baldwin started the photography program at MTSU in 1959 and established the gallery five years later to help expose students, as well as the surrounding community, to the work of leading photographers from around the world.

In the process, Baldwin began to build a permanent collection from gallery exhibits by artists such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Minor White, as well as Uelsmann.

Prior to the move to the Mass Communication Building, the gallery was located in a hallway of the Learning Resources Center until building renovations displaced it. Now a professor emeritus of mass communication, Baldwin donated $100,000 in 2012 to find and renovate a new location on campus.

MTSU turned the former student newspaper office in the Mass Communication Building into a 1,300-square-foot photographic gallery, featuring 200 feet of pristine wall display space and museum-quality lighting, to showcase the permanent Baldwin collection, as well as traveling exhibits and student work.

“I just love the way you can stand downstairs and look up and see the gallery shining. It sparkles,” said Billy Pittard, head of the electronic media communication department in the College of Mass Communication.

“We have all these labs and classrooms in this building for our students to work in, but nothing has been dedicated simply to inspiration until now,” he said. “It’s a wonderful space.”

Tagged under  Arts, Baldwin Photographic Gallery, Jerry Uelsmann, Maggie Taylor, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Photography, Weekend Planner

Members Opinions:
February 03, 2014 at 12:24am
I believe this is excellent news. Galleries like these help students feel recognized and allow them to experience critique in a more professional environment. I myself have most of my classes in the Mass Comm building and will enjoy being able to take a break from classes to appreciate the art that will be displayed here.
With all this, however, I do have a few thoughts about the location and cost. While I realize there are expenses for galleries that I am most likely unaware of I feel like they do not amount to the 100,00 dollars that was put forward by Mr. Baldwin to have the gallery built. I also don’t necessarily agree with the location as well. Although it is a good size it is kind of to the side and in a corner and don’t feel as though it will get as much recognition as it should.
For example I noticed at one of the nights of the gallery showings people had to stand on the stairwell where they couldn’t really see the gallery and it looked rather awkward.
Although these might seem like minor squabbles I only say this because I want to see the photography department as well as any other creative outlet grow and flourish.

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