The creative space within the Boulder Jewish Community Center, that has housed a rotating selection of art since 2016, was officially named Messinger Gallery at a dedication ceremony Thursday.
“This building is so beautiful on its own,” said painter Alice Messinger, who selects the art on display and whose parents have donated various permanent pieces to the JCC’s collection. “I see the art enhancing it like fine jewelry that highlights the architectural design of the building itself.”
The Messinger Gallery currently hosts four exhibits a year, with each opening consisting of an artist talk. Past shows have featured photography, sculptures, oil and acrylic paintings and encaustic paintings — a medium that involves adding colored pigments to heated beeswax.
“The most rewarding aspect has been seeing the light in people’s eyes,” said Jonathan Lev, executive director of Boulder JCC. “All of a sudden there’s a splash of color on the wall. I love seeing people’s reactions. Art always evokes comments from our visitors and it’s always interesting to see what pieces speak to them.”
With more than 22,000 visitors per year, the Messinger Gallery provides incredible exposure of the fine arts to a variety of guests.
“I really love the day it goes up,” Lev said. “People notice something different immediately. There’s a real rhythm to it and a joy.”
Messinger and metalsmith Paula Pollachek volunteer their time by working with galleries throughout Colorado to thoughtfully curate the work showcased in the Messinger Gallery. The partnership allows galleries to get more exposure and keeps the quality of pieces on display at Boulder JCC fresh and cutting edge. A portion of the proceeds from each work of art sold at Messinger Gallery goes to Boulder JCC to foster more events and programs for the nonprofit.
“We are very dedicated as if we are staff,” Messinger said. “Our skin in the game is because we believe in this mission.”
Rather than purchasing a few paintings to permanently hang on Boulder JCC’s interior, Lev and Messinger see a great opportunity to incite more community engagement and also give up-and-coming creatives a platform to showcase their craft.
“I’d love to be the one to pluck the brand-new talent out and give them an opportunity to be seen,” said Messinger, who will have her own exhibit of landscape oil paintings on display in 2020.
“Mutually, we were able to come up with a vision that really fit the space,” Lev said. “Paula and Alice have found art that matches the quality and distinguished elegance of the JCC.”
Both Messinger and Lev would like to eventually display a sculpture garden on JCC’s property and perhaps present work done by local teens. Currently, art is on display in the lower lobby level and in the upstairs library.
“I look forward to getting more expansive in terms of the mediums and hope with the division of the two spaces create more of a Judaic focus, while still being inclusive,” Messinger said.
The Boulder JCC allows those curious about pursuing art to do so by offering a series of visual art classes. In January, Boulder-based artist Sara Sanderson hosted a four-session beginner class on capturing the diverse landscape of Colorado.
“I want to allow the community to really dig in and get skills of their own,”Messinger said, who has a bachelor’s in fine arts in graphic design and art history from Parsons School of Design.
“It’s an incredible honor to have a show here that coincides with the naming dedication,” said artist Chloe Hedden, who once lived in Boulder and now resides in an adobe home in Moab, Utah.
Hedden’s large-scale oil paintings of vibrant blooms, which she often paints from photographs of flowers taken in her own garden, can be seen at the Messinger Gallery through Sept. 5.
“Chloe has an amazing way of capturing light in nature that is truly exceptional,” Messinger said. “Her technique is magnificent.”
“We think of art in a broad sense,” Lev said. “Whenever we have a performance or a film, we always like to have a component that allows community engagement so it can be appreciated on different levels.”
Also currently on display are Hedden’s block-like wood and pyrite sculptures treated with 18-karat gold.
“Adding the gallery name is about the artists themselves and how we can best serve them,” Lev said. “This isn’t just about art on walls. This is about the community’s connection to the art and the artist’s connection to the community.”