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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Blaffer Gallery celebrates 35 years

The Blaffer Gallery, the art museum on campus at the University of Houston, is inviting students to break out the confetti and put on their party hats as it celebrates 35 years of showcasing up-and-coming artists with its birthday this month.

Since its dedication on March 13, 1973, Blaffer Gallery has made it a point with the content of its art showcases to stand out as an established part of the lives of students.

The gallery will mark its birthday celebration this year with a bash at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Fine Arts Building courtyard.

"We have no idea how many people will decide to come," Director of External Affairs Susan Conaway said. "We have anywhere from 250-500 people at each opening."

In addition to a live performance by local artists the 11th Street Cleaners, visitors can expect catering from Houston eateries including Armando’s, Amy’s Ice Cream and drinks from Saint Arnold’s Brewery.

"I think people will enjoy it because it’s something different that people haven’t been exposed to," said Vanessa Hall, an external affairs intern for Blaffer Gallery.

Led by director Terrie Sultan since 2000, the Blaffer Gallery has come a long way from its start in 1973.

"We no longer are a collecting institution," Conaway said. "We showcase artwork by regional artists as well as international artists, particularly emerging artists."

Conaway said even though the mission of Blaffer has changed since it started, it still upholds the fact that it’s available to university students.

"We’re here to educate you as students and incorporate our program into the curriculum as best as we can," Conaway said.

During the past eight years of being involved with Blaffer, Sultan, who is leaving the museum in April, has made a specific effort to help novice artists get the recognition they need in order to be successful.

Hall said she thinks Sultan aims to establish a presence of the art in order to start a conversation about the art itself.

"I think that’s part of her vision to bring new contemporary art to Houston, and to be the first to do so," she said.

Sultan will move to Southampton, N.Y. where she accepted the director position at the Parrish Art Museum.

Hall said before the director got involved with Blaffer, the organization was less known than it is today.

"I think she’s helped Blaffer’s recognition, in the art world at least," Hall said. "I feel like people come here because they know that UH and Terry Sultan are going have something new and exciting that they haven’t been exposed to."

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