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By Kris Kerzman, Variety contributor, Published September 29 2013

College galleries offer an art experience off the beaten path

FARGO – Among the many places to view visual art in the Fargo-Moorhead area, it’s easy to forget about the galleries on university campuses.

Like any other gallery, on-campus spaces maintain busy schedules and fulfill many of the same roles as any other art studios in town, featuring work from artists in the community or traveling exhibitions.

In addition, they provide a focus on their unique communities of students, alumni and faculty, offering audiences a unique view of emerging and established artists in an environment of education and experimentation.

The Memorial Union Gallery

North Dakota State University, 1401 Administration Ave., Fargo

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday; 11 a.m. -8 p.m. Thursday

Info: Visit www.ndsu.edu/mu/programs/gallery for more details

The Memorial Union Gallery occupies a sizeable space on the second floor of NDSU’s student union.

Its close proximity to the buzz of student life has new coordinator Netha Cloeter thinking about

ways to have the gallery serve a more participatory function, opening it up as a more interactive space.

“University galleries operate a bit differently than regular galleries,” Cloeter said. “They have a lot of energy from the flow of students, and they can be a bit more experimental in their approach.”

Cloeter said she wants to maintain a focus on the distinct culture of NDSU and its interrelated groups.

She points to a new exhibition in the works that explores Greek life at NDSU and features objects from each fraternity and sorority on campus. The showcase will explore the material culture of NDSU Greeks and offer alumni and students a new way during upcoming homecoming celebrations to explore their history and role in campus life.

The Memorial Union Gallery also maintains an art collection. A portion of the student fees that fund the gallery are set aside for building that collection, which numbers around 400 pieces. In addition to the exhibitions that feature students and faculty, the gallery also extends educational opportunities in collection and gallery management.

Cloeter said she is working on a project to put 138 pieces of that collection online, an important component in encouraging collaborative scholarship and a way for the public to interact with the collection.

As for the public visiting the gallery, she admits parking can be a headache at NDSU, but gallery visitors will find easier parking options on Thursday evenings or Saturdays.

The Cyrus M. Running Gallery

Concordia College, located in the walkway between Frances Frazier Theatre and Olin Art and Communication Center

Hours: Open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Closed Saturdays and during academic breaks.

Info: www.concordiacollege.edu/student-life/theatre-arts

The Cyrus M. Running Gallery uses walls along a broad hallway and 50-foot skyway to host faculty and student exhibitions, including an annual student exhibition juried by area art professionals.

Gallery Director Susan Lee calls the gallery “modest and small,” but it plays host to big ideas.

The gallery’s current exhibition, “From a Cup to Instagram,” was part of the college’s annual Faith, Reason and World Affairs Conference and featured crowd-sourced exhibitions of Instagram photos from the general public. The exhibition was conceived and executed by students in Lee’s museum studies program.

“I tend to see this gallery as a complement to our museum studies classes and as a learning laboratory,” said Lee, who has been teaching art history at Concordia for six years and took on the role of gallery director two years ago.

Lee is working on new ways to build museum management into her course work and putting it into immediate practice.

“We don’t have a mission statement, and one of my goals is to get students involved in working on that,” Lee said.

Visitors from outside the Concordia campus are welcome, and Lee encourages them to use the large visitor lot on Eighth Street for parking.

Roland Dille Center for the Arts Gallery

Minnesota State University Moorhead, 1104 7th Ave. S.

Hours: Open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday; 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday.

Info: www.mnstate.edu/art/gallery.aspx

MSUM is in a search of a new director of its art gallery located in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts. The gallery is also set to begin work on refreshing its goals and mission.

Sherry Lee Short, an associate professor in MSUM’s Department of Art and Design, is assisting with gallery management in the meantime, and said this is an “exciting time of re-visioning.”

“Interdisciplinary and campus collaborations are a large part of the new focus of the university. As we re-vision our gallery, we will be discussing the ways in which this dynamic facility can complement and enhance both our department’s and the university’s goals,” Short said.

Short said she can foresee a revised gallery focus including more collaborative atmosphere, working with both on-campus and off-campus groups to provide students with an expanded view of their artistic practice.

The gallery already does some of this through its contributions to the department’s visiting artist and colloquium programs, and an exhibition from a visiting artist is planned for this spring, Short said.

As for access, Short said that all campus parking lots are free after 4:30 p.m.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo, and its online publication, ARTSpulse. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net/artspulse.