Art for art’s sake

18Apr08

It wasn’t first time I had viewed “Beauty of the Spirit,” the exhibition of paintings by artists and illustrator Kadir Nelson at the Center Art Gallery. I had gone to see the show soon after it opened. It was, however, the first time I had bought a book there and had it autographed by the illustrator, Kadir Nelson. And it was the first time I had seen the beautiful Dara Karadsheh, a kindergartner of my acquaintance, get her book autographed by Kadir Nelson. “Beauty of the Spirit,” composed of paintings from 5 of Nelson’s books, is a collaboration between the gallery and the Festival of Faith and Writing, where the Caldecott honor-winning artist was one of the featured speakers. It is a lovely show. I particularly liked tracing the figure of the little girl in the blue dress (from the book “Ellington Was Not a Street”) from painting to painting. The artist seemed a little tired, but still gracious, after all the autographing. Gallery guard Heather showed me the tally of visitors, which she was recording on a hand-held counter, was inching up toward 300. The gallery, tucked into the basement of Spoelhof Center, is one of the nicest places to be on the Calvin campus, whether it is showing art professor JoAnne Van Reuwyk’s fiber vessels or posters by Robert Rauschenberg or images of the Virgin Mary or alumni photographs or the multitudinous works, in many media, of Calvin art students. It’s also where the some of the best people regularly hang out. A lot of them were there, mixing with the new faces, lingering in conversations in corners and on benches . A really good night out of many good nights at the gallery.

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