Celebrating Two Decades of Excellence in Exhibition, Education and Outreach Programming the Visual Arts
Boone, NC – The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University will observe
its 20th anniversary on Friday, May 5th from 5-8pm, as part of Downtown Boone’s “First Friday.”
All are invited to attend the celebration, which is free and open to the public.
Among the fun and festive activities marking the anniversary event are exhibitions in six galleries,
live music, art-making stations, refreshments and a cash bar. During the celebration, the center’s supporters will also have an opportunity to participate in an interactive exhibition by sharing their favorite memories of the Turchin Center, including exhibitions over the years that have been
especially meaningful to them.
“We hope the entire community will turn out to help us celebrate twenty years of stellar visual
arts programming,” said Nancy Brittelle, chair of the Turchin Center advisory board, adding that
“the arts unite us and bring us together as a community, and the Turchin Center has been doing just that, for the past two decades.”
As the center approaches its milestone anniversary, there is much to celebrate, beyond the
exceptional exhibition, education and outreach programming for which the center is known.
“Several other long-standing goals have been reached in the past year,” notes the center’s director,
Denise Ringler, “including the development of a strategic plan to guide the center’s future efforts; completion of phase-one of the Campus Arts Corridor featuring a new array of public art;
significant gifts in support of the Turchin Center’s endowment fund; and the naming of two gallery spaces in honor of generous donors committed to sustaining the center’s programming.”
Anniversary festivities will continue throughout the year, with additional festivities scheduled
for the first Friday in July, when the center opens new exhibitions on Friday, July 7th as part of
An Appalachian Summer Festival.
Flux: Signe Stuart
Hodges Gallery: Through June 3, 2023
Beginning in the early 1960s, Signe Stuart’s professional career has now spanned more than 65
years. Her approach to art making has always relied on experimentation and rule breaking. Using
the materials and form of painting, she breaks away from the standard rectangle and concepts
of framing. For the artist, a sheet of paper is a metaphorical slice of time and space, a context in
which to construct ideas about the connections and intersections of consciousness with matter
Say:Word, a site-specific installation by Renee Cloud & de’Angelo DIA
Community Gallery: Through June 3, 2023
Say: Word examines misrepresentation, cultural appropriation, and the significance of cultivating
ones’ own narrative and the distribution of those narratives. The artists’ visual and poetic words
reflect excavated intimate and public conversations, journal entries, and social media debates.
Say: Word represents the numerous questions raised when presented with shocking or almost
unbelievable narratives and statements. The title serves as a rhetorical question, challenging the
viewers to consider, “if we are processing the same reality, how are we coming to a diversity of conclusions?”
20th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Invitational
Bickers Gallery (Mezzanine Gallery): Through June 3, 2023
In honor of the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition’s (AMPC) 20th Anniversary,
University Recreation, in partnership with the Turchin Center and Virtual Blue Ridge, is hosting
six Appalachian photographers in this year’s anniversary invitational exhibition.
Altered Environments / Tidalectics, April Flanders, Guest Curator
Marilee Salvator: Site Specific Installation
Petti-Peiser Gallery: Through May 6, 2023
Art and science both attempt to explain the world around us. This exhibition presents two print portfolios and an installation that address the depth and breadth of the problems facing fragile
aquatic environments. Artists in the Tidalectics print portfolio, organized by Eveline Kolijn,
partnered with marine biologists to create a visual response to their research on a wide range of
topics related to marine ecosystems. The works in the Altered Environments portfolio, curated by
April Flanders, address the impacts and problems arising from invasive organisms in marine environments. Artist Marilee Salvator has created a site-specific installation responding to the
invasive bryozoan Cribrilina mutabilis.
Kiliii Yuyan: Thin Places
Gallery A: Through May 6, 2023
Thin Places are waypoints in Kiliii Yuyan’s personal songline. He seeks them out because they
guide his way home and help him understand where he come from. According to the artist,
“I may be separated from my ancestral communities by history and hostile borders, but sometimes
my ancestors are right there in front of me, blazing in the night.” The photographs in the exhibit
provide a glimpse for the viewer into the Thin Places of the Artic North from a deeply personal Indigenous perspective.
Transformations: App DigiFab
Mayer Gallery: Through May 6, 2023
Digital design and fabrication technologies have radically transformed the way artists and
designers conceive and produce work. Transformations: AppDigiFab explores how digital tools for design and fabrication are being utilized and taught by contemporary artists, designers, and
architects, and how those tools influence the work being produced in various fields.
For more information about all of the featured exhibitions, visit tcva.org/art.
About the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts:
The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, named for university benefactors Robert and Lillian
Turchin, fulfills Appalachian State University’s long-held mission of providing a home for world-
class visual arts programming. The largest facility of its kind in the region, the center presents exhibition, education and collection programs that support the university’s role as a key
educational, cultural and service resource. The center presents multi-dimensional exhibits and
programs and is a dynamic presence in the community, creating opportunities for people of all
ages and backgrounds to experience the power and excitement of the visual arts. Its seven
galleries host changing exhibitions featuring local, regional, national and international artists.
The Turchin Center is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Regular hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
Tues. – Thurs. and Saturday, and Noon – 8 p.m., Friday. The Center is closed Sunday and Monday,
and observes all university holidays. Admission is always free. For general inquiries, to be added to
the mailing or e-news list, to obtain donor program details or to schedule a tour, call 828-262-3017, e-mail [email protected] or visit tcva.org. The Turchin Center can also be followed on Facebook @TurchinCenter.
How it All Began:
In May of 2003, the cultural landscape of western North Carolina and the surrounding
region was transformed, as Appalachian State University’s vision of establishing a regional visual arts center came to fruition, in the form of the Robert and Lillian Turchin Center for
the Visual Arts. The new facility, named for long-time arts supporters Bob and Lillian Turchin,
is located in downtown Boone at the crossroads between campus and community. The
Turchin Center soon became the largest visual arts center in northwestern North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, and Southwestern Virginia.
The center celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, May 3rd, 2003. Grand Opening
festivities included a commissioned performance by artist Joyce Scott, in honor of the
center’s opening. Guests enjoyed live music and refreshments, and were invited to view
the center’s opening exhibitions and to tour the center. The centerpiece of the celebration
was the center’s inaugural exhibition: Go Figure! Manifestations of the Human Form in Contemporary Art, featuring an extraordinary range of works, including sculpture, painting, photography and digital imagery.
The Turchin Center, located in the West King Street building formerly occupied by the
Boone United Methodist Church, gave shape to one of Appalachian State University’s
long-held dreams: the creation of a facility devoted specifically to exhibition, education and
outreach programs in the visual arts. Exhibitions would be focused on a blend of new and historically important artwork, including works by nationally and internationally renowned artists, as well as many of the finest artists of our region.
Students and community members found in the Turchin Center a welcoming gathering
place devoted to the exploration of the visual arts through such initiatives as educational programming and a variety of workshops and lectures, as well as a strong connection to the university’s highly acclaimed Department of Art, a partnership that continues to this day.
The Turchin Center became operational in two phases. The first phase consisted of renovations to the existing King Street building, which created the center’s main and mezzanine gallery spaces. Also included in this phase were administrative offices, exhibit preparation and permanent collection storage areas, and an elevator to provide accessibility for visitors.
A new construction phase, launched seven years later, created a new wing with a downtown pedestrian entrance, additional gallery spaces, an outdoor sculpture area, a lecture hall and multi-purpose event space.
The center was the culmination of Appalachian’s long-standing commitment to visual arts
programming. With the establishment of the Catherine J. Smith Gallery twenty-two years ago, the university honored its commitment to excellence in education by recognizing a regional
icon in art education. Smith served as Art Department chair for years, and inspired countless people with her life-long love of art and learning. As the program grew, it strengthened the belief that a strong, vibrant, and regionally significant exhibition and education program were necessary to assist Appalachian in becoming a major comprehensive university.
Early commitments from supporters such as Doris and Martin Rosen and Charlotte and Sol “Buddy” Halpert helped to create major national juried competitions and exhibitions which preceded the founding of the Turchin Center and were tied to An Appalachian Summer Festival, the university’s multidisciplinary, annual summer arts celebration. The Halpert Biennial and the Rosen Sculpture Competition served to raise the national stature of the university’s programming in the visual arts. The Rosen Competition, supported by Martin and Doris’s children, honors their legacy and continues to this day.
In 1998, the Boone United Methodist Church, responding to a need for additional space, began investigating the sale of its King Street property and the possibility of building a new and larger facility. Upon hearing of the church’s desire to move, the university, under the leadership of Chancellor Francis K. Borkowski, asked architect Michael Newman to study the feasibility of converting the existing building into a center for the visual arts. Fortunately, Newman had been working with the core group of university staff and volunteers to plan the center, and his expertise and knowledge of the needs of the university made him an ideal candidate for the job. It was Newman’s opinion that the existing facility, with its unusual design and site placement, would make an excellent choice. Of particular interest to the planning committee was the site’s location on King Street, in the heart of downtown Boone.
The next step was to purchase the facility and begin renovations. Longtime university supporters Bob and Lillian Turchin became aware of this exciting project through their close affiliation with An Appalachian Summer Festival and other university programs, and made the generous lead gift to purchase the building.
Rounding out this phase of the facility was the beautiful and tranquil Kay Borkowski Sculpture Garden, made possible by a gift from Ted and Marty Couch. A generous gift from The Seby Jones Foundation also provided major support during this first phase of the project. Others have stepped forward with commitments toward the next phase of construction, led by longtime friends of the arts, Budd and Nanette Mayer.
In 1999, Hank Foreman was named Director and Chief Curator of the Turchin Center. Foreman obtained his M.A. degree in art education from Appalachian, having completed undergraduate studies at UNC-Charlotte, with a concentration in painting and sculpture. Prior to this appointment as acting director of the Catherine J. Smith Gallery, he worked for three years
with the previous gallery director, Terry Suhre, first as a graduate assistant, and later as
Assistant Gallery Director.
During his tenure at the Catherine J. Smith Gallery, Foreman took part in dozens of exhibitions
as well as lectures, symposia and publication materials related to the center’s exhibition programs, working closely with the university’s Department of Art and a wide variety of other campus and community groups to make the resources of the gallery available to all. One of
the center’s earliest exhibitions, Views From Ground Level: Art and Ecology in the Late Nineties, brought internationally acclaimed artists, historians and critics to the campus and received national attention.
In commenting on the mission of the Turchin Center, Foreman spoke of the need to serve a variety of constituencies, including artists, students, faculty and others well versed in the visual arts— as well as those with no background or formal training in the arts. “The center needs to
be ‘user friendly’,” he noted; “a place where people can visit, enjoy the exhibits, and feel comfortable and welcome.”
The staff during these early years also envisioned the Turchin Center and its programs playing
a role in overcoming negative attitudes about art in public settings. Given the sometimes controversial nature of artwork displayed across the Appalachian campus, for example, the issue sometimes becomes merely “Do I like the artwork or not?” When this happens, the opportunity to ponder other more important questions about art is lost; questions such as “Why is the work important? What does this work mean to me? To the world?” These questions served to reinforce the center’s commitment to creating a safe, brave and comfortable environment where visitors can be exposed to art, and ponder some of these questions for themselves.
As the Turchin Center reflects on its proud history and the past two decades of exhibition, education and outreach programming which are foundational to its identity and which are continuously evolving in response to the needs of the community and region it serves, the values and core beliefs underlying its original mission have remain unchanged. These values and beliefs are clearly reflected in the center’s mission today:
The Turchin Center engages visitors from Appalachian State University, surrounding communities, the nation and beyond in unique and meaningful experiences with the visual arts, by offering a wide array of dynamic and accessible exhibition, education, outreach and collection programs. These programs support the university’s teaching mission, inspire lifelong engagement with the visual arts, and create opportunities for participants to learn more about themselves and the world around them. The center is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community of arts supporters, and creating brave spaces where visitors feel empowered to speak up; where all voices are heard; and where exhibition and education programming centers and fosters dialogue about important issues facing today’s world, including social, racial and economic justice issues.
Courtesy of the Turchin Center.
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