Insights into Inlanders: Paul Manouerra from the Jundt Art Museum | Art & Culture | Spokane | The Pacific Northwest Inlanders
click to enlarge
Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, Italy by John Ferguson Weir, 1902, oil on canvas.
IIt feels like something only extremely art-loving locals know, but Spokane has a free art museum. Gonzaga University’s Jundt Art Museum sits on the shores of Lake Arthur on the edge of campus and has been providing visual art display cases for students, faculty, and the general public since it opened in 1995. It is best known, however, for the stunning red blown glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly, which hangs permanently in the building’s chancellor’s room, is not a space that can only be defined by an impressive work.
Photo by Zack Berlat / Gonzaga University
Starting this Saturday, January 15th, Jundt is showing two new exhibits from the museum’s own collection, which tie in with the culture of Gonzaga University. Revisited: A Grand Tour: Images of Italy from the Permanent Collection shows a number of works by artists who spent time in Italy as tourists and who used these trips as muses. From the collection: The Bible in Art opens up centuries of art based on religious images – with works by masters from Rembrandt to Dalí. You will have ample time to tour both exhibits as they will remain on display until May 7th.
To get a preview of the two new exhibitions, we met with the director / curator of the Jundt Art Museum, Paul Manouerra, to talk about the pandemic curation, the favorites in the collection and the connection between art and scientific study.
What role do you think Jundt plays in Gonzaga and in the larger Spokane art scene?
Our goal with the university and looking inward is therefore to ensure that our exhibitions and programs are somehow connected to teaching, research and service. What we do is in keeping with the university’s Jesuit humanistic tradition. This is how we ensure that our exhibitions are useful for teachers, students and staff to promote their learning and knowledge about the arts and humanities.
The other idea is that our exhibitions are attractive and interesting for the people of Spokane and the northwest of the country. Our Jundt Gallery is a great white box gallery and we try to vary our exhibitions to get an overview of the media over time – so we don’t do 16 photo exhibitions in a row, for example – but then too [so that there’s] a mix of historical and contemporary art.
And that is our goal with what we are trying to do with our exhibitions: Is this art of historical importance? Can it be used in teaching research at the university? And do we think it will be of interest to the people in the area? Can we afford it? Time? Budget? If we can answer yes to most of these things, let’s try to put it on our schedule.
click to enlarge
The Resurrection of Salvador Dalí, 1979, lithograph on paper.
Where do you see Jundt’s strengths, both as a space and as an institution?
One of [the strengths] is with the objects that are in the collection. We’re really strong at working on paper, especially prints, from the Renaissance to the present day. And we try to emphasize this with some of our exhibitions.
The other strength is that we are an academic museum and we are free. So our exhibitions don’t necessarily have to focus on how many people we get outside to buy tickets. We can do exhibitions with an academic focus – the sole purpose of which is to impart knowledge – and we don’t really have to worry about making ends meet with ticket sales.
On the other side of the coin, what are the challenges of curating Jundt?
Well we are relatively small. That said, we didn’t always have some of the best objects in the collection on display [because] We only have the really three exhibition rooms: We have this arcade gallery with the cabinets in front, in which we do changing exhibitions; we have the Chancellor’s room with all the Chihuly glass and some other three-dimensional objects – that remains relatively static; and then we have the Jundt Gallery, that great white box gallery.
But that means that we essentially function like an art gallery. The museum essentially changes completely three times a year. But the downside is that there is always something new to see.
Has the COVID pandemic changed your approach to curation in the first place?
The biggest change is just our decision to rely on our collection and not have to worry about borrowing works of art from other institutions or private collectors. [With] Transportation costs, the uncertainty of contracts and the fear of opening and closing and opening and closing and all that, it just made sense to focus on our collection.
click to enlarge
Christ driving the money changers out of the temple by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1635, etching and engraving on paper.
Do you have personal favorites in the collection?
Both exhibitions are filled with favorites. In view of the pandemic situation, we are currently planning exhibitions with our collection. So everything on display belongs to the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University.
We often have people [ask]because we have it on our website, [about the] Etchings by Rembrandt in our collection. Well, because it’s etchings, because it’s works on paper, they can’t work all day and have gallery lights and all that. These Rembrandts aren’t usually on display, but we’re going to have two Rembrandts in The Bible in Art.
Gonzaga studied abroad in Florence, Italy for many years, but were there other reasons for programming a Grand Tour?
The idea of visiting Italy as a tourist has a long history and artists are only a subset of the tourists who have visited Italy for centuries. Artists have been doing this decade after decade, for centuries, and have been inspired to create art based on these Italian journeys.
But then you are also right. The connection to the concept of global engagement and study abroad as well as the aspects of global citizenship are important to the university. If you offer the opportunity to do so by way of the exhibition, you can essentially tour the Italian peninsula by way of the travels of these artists and the pictures they took.
So it has a dual purpose.
Aside from the obvious connection of being a Jesuit institution, was there anything else you specifically wanted to highlight by curating The Bible in Art?
If you teach history or art history, religion plays an important role in the humanities and has been the subject of artists since ancient times. And so it was just a good opportunity because there were so many works in the collection that deal with a certain aspect of a narrative from the Bible. [It let’s us] exhibit some of these works, such as these two Rembrandts. There is a Marc Chagall in the exhibition. A Salvador Dali, The Resurrection, can be seen in the exhibition. So there is an opportunity to get some well-known artists out of the camp and, as you said, to address something that makes sense for a Jesuit university.
Revisited: A Grand Tour: Pictures of Italy from the Permanent Collection & From the Collection: The Bible in Art • January 15 – May 7 • Jundt Art Museum • Open Mon-Sat 10 am-4pm • Free • 200 E Desmet Ave. • 509-313-6843
click to enlarge
Interior view of the tomb of S. Costanza (from the series From Le Vedute di Roma) by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, ca.1750, etching on paper.