A variety of work from 22 artists displayed in the newly opened Katzen Arts Center showcases the type of talent and vision that will be featured in the museum in the coming season. The inaugural exhibit, titled “Soft Openings” opened to the public July 16 and will run through September 17.
The 130,000 square foot building was built to house the university’s visual and performing art departments in addition to public gallery and performance space.
The art featured in “Soft Openings” consists of a range of different mediums intended to help the museums directors experiment with the available space, which includes massive winding wall spaces and a considerable amount of natural lighting from windows and skylights, according to Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the Katzen.
The long, narrow building, which has been under construction for several years, occupies a stretch of land across Massachusetts Avenue from AU’s Glover Gate.
Designed by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering, it includes a 30,000 square foot three-story museum and sculpture garden, a sky-lit entrance rotunda, three performance venues, an electronics studio, nearly 20 practice rooms, a 200-seat recital hall, rehearsal halls, classrooms and an underground garage with 550 parking spaces.
Curiosity from students and the AU community waiting for the building’s opening led Rasmussen to keep interests piqued though Arts @ the Katzen, a blog he started this April. Through the blog, the museum’s director has kept an account that details everything Katzen - from the slow process of getting a certificate of occupancy to the progress of the museum’s installations and exhibits.
“A blog is so appropriate for an arts center which must, first and foremost, be a place for communication,” Rasmussen said.
The university was originally skeptical of what Rasmussen calls “the latest thing to reach audiences,” he said. But he was able to convince them blogging is effective, and he thinks university-sponsored blogging will become common when they find out how many people read them.
His theory seems to be working. Several people have left comments on his blog entries, supplementing the buzz around campus about the new building.
When Rasmussen first started his blog, the goal was to reach the online community of D.C. and Baltimore.
“I really didn’t figure out that a large percentage of that community would be AU students. I’m obviously very happy this is so,” he said.
Although the center has now officially opened, Rasmussen said he’ll keep posting as long as people keep reading.
“I’m still learning the medium, but I believe its essence has to do with communicating in a freer, less formal way with people who share your enthusiasms.”
On October 20, the university will hold a formal ribbon cutting and dedication to Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen, who provided the funding for the new building.
Visit Art @ the Katzen at http://art_at_thekatzen.typepad.com/art_thekatzen.