Legendary art professor Waldo Bates arrived at Edinboro in 1920 to begin his 34-year career as the mentor and arbiter for generations of artists and teachers.
More than a century later, Edinboro University’s art community has finished major renovations to the art gallery that bears his name.
Thanks to a $50,000 gift fund from the Student Government Association, the Art Department upgraded the Bates Gallery – located on the ground floor of Loveland Hall – with a drop ceiling and supports, updated track lighting system, glass door and entryway, drywall, press-and-lock waterproof flooring, baseboards and wall trim, outlets and lights and a new heating unit.
Operated entirely as a student-run gallery, the Bates Gallery renovation project was approved through SGA Congress and completed by Edinboro University’s Facilities team.
“A space like this is important for student-artists to have access to because – while they are honing their skills as artists – it's important to gain skills to things that surround being an artist,” said Edinboro graduate student Erikka Spaid, who directed the Bates Gallery renovation project. “This gives students a chance to feel the pressure of organizing an exhibition on their own and learning just what it takes to organize, curate and carry out gallery procedures – before they're out in the world.”
Spaid, who started a graduate assistantship with the Art Department in 2019, worked with faculty member D.W. Martin (Sculpture) on planning the renovation and designing plans for the space. After graduating from Slippery Rock in 2019 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting, Spaid arrived at Edinboro and was underwhelmed with the gallery space.
“It was one of my first priorities when I arrived to try to troubleshoot the issues and try to improve the space before I left here,” she said.
After defining the mission, Spaid – who represents the Student Art League under Martin’s direction – then attended SGA meetings, presented Congress with photos and designs for the space and collaborated with Facilities to complete the project.
Martin, who has taught at Edinboro since 1997, credits the Spaid’s pursuit of the project and the collaboration with Kaitlyn Lentz, former SGA vice president, Aaron Corwin, Edinboro’s building maintenance foreman and the Facilities team for financing and renovating the gallery.
“It’s very important for art students to have the most professional situation to exhibit their work,” Martin said. “This new gallery space enhances the overall environment in Loveland Hall and could be a catalyst for future improvements to the building.”
Since the beginning of the spring 2022 semester, Bates Gallery has already hosted three art shows, and a variety are planned for the next few weeks.
“Bates Gallery is a space that is a privilege for the students to have available at their disposal,” said Spaid, a Coalport, Pa., native who is pursuing an MFA in painting at Edinboro. “Not only do they learn the above skills, but it also opens a door for some students who come along and find love in gallery work, which is a great field for an artist to flourish in.”
Bates Gallery’s namesake led the Art Department from 1920 to 1954 and was instrumental in significantly increasing Edinboro’s art student population and its reputation throughout the region.
In 1920, the Pennsylvania Board of State Normal Schools Principals divided each of the 14 schools into specialized service areas, assigning Edinboro the elementary education and art areas. Bates was recruited to Edinboro that year to establish the Art Department and develop the curriculum.
In 1923, Bates founded the ScaRAb Club, an organization aimed at promoting fraternal understanding and harmony among art students.
Follow Edinboro University’s Bates Gallery on Instagram to learn about future projects and student shows.
Photo: Edinboro art students Beau Henry and Tyler Kratz set up their “Puppeteers” exhibit in the newly renovated Bates Gallery.