Last year the Campus Center was washed-out and cold, like a neglected waiting room in a mediocre dentist’s office. This year, on a grey Tuesday evening, the overhead lights glow off the warm colors of the walls and little lamps throw swatches of light on the tabletops. Gossamer strands of Debussy’s piano music waft over miscellaneous people cushioned deep in a cluster of couches or assembled in a rough semi-circle of black chairs. The music whispers against a rank of artworks, which file in silent energy over the walls.
It’s February 11. The just-hung collection of student artworks infusing the room with quiet fascination is called Gallery C. And the hushed band of artists and appreciators gathered near one end of the Campus Center is here to honor the gallery’s opening with a relaxed reading of student poetry.
On the edge of the gathering, Campus Center director Chris Hagen gives off calm rays of amiable approval. It was his idea of filling the Campus Center’s warm, empty walls with student art that started all this. The Society Of Fine Arts (SOFA) officers, who picked up his idea, spread it around campus, added the poetry reading, and put up the artwork, lean comfortably back among the couch cushions. Under the auspices of the Campus Center and SOFA, a new space of freedom and expression has been opened to the artists and writers of PUC. It is non-exclusive, open-ended, unjuried, and ungraded.
“Did anyone else bring poetry?” asks a SOFA officer in the quiet space after a poem. The answer is silence. “All right then. Thank you all for coming; feel free to have some cookies and chips!” A soft hum of voices rises and mingles, and from the gathering of black chairs a question arises. “When are you going to do this again?”
Others agree – they want it to happen again. Delighted representatives of SOFA and the Campus Center agree to plan on one poetry reading a month.
The group disbands gradually and with merriness, as some people join a flood of club officers who are here to get yearbook pictures taken, while others gather up a cookie or two and take a closer look at the art of the now-officially-opened Gallery C. Around the growing hubbub in the room, the artworks seem to smile, as though still hearing the cadence of the poetry.