Q&A with Barbara Wiesen, Director of Cleve Carney Art Gallery

Barbara Wiesen Director Cleve Carney Art Gallery

With the opening of the McAninch Arts Center also comes the new Cleve Carney Art Gallery. It’s a brand new building thanks to one of Glen Ellyn’s most revered philanthropists, the late Cleve Carney, a contemporary art collector and supporter of the arts. As gallery director at the McAninch Arts Center since 2000, Barbara Wiesen is looking forward to the Gallery’s next chapter.

Before coming to College of DuPage, Barbara Wiesen was an Assistant Professor of Studio Art and Director/Curator of the Reicher Gallery at Barat College from 1996-2000. She received an M.F.A. in studio arts from the University of Illinois, Chicago and was a practicing artist for many years before devoting her time to running a gallery. With the gallery opening just around the corner, Barbara took some time to answer some questions about herself, the Gallery, and the upcoming show:

Why an art gallery on a college campus?
To my knowledge there was an art gallery on this campus back in the 70’s in one of the original west campus buildings. In 1986, when the McAninch Arts

Center was built, plans for a professional gallery were created. The original space was called the Art Center Gallery until

William E. Gahlberg’s name was assigned to the space in honor of his fundraising efforts for the College. COD has been a visionary and progressive institution, supportive of the arts, and a leader in the growth of community colleges. What better way to expose and educate the community to the advancement of the visual arts then having a professional art gallery on a Community College campus.

What goes into planning for a season of exhibitions?
Research in addition to gallery, museum, and artist’s studio visits are all part of what is needed to create a season of exhibitions. My goal is to bring in a variety of exhibits that this community would not otherwise be exposed to.

Many people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes with each and every exhibit. Planning begins a good year or so in advance with back and forth correspondence with artists, collectors, galleries, museums, writers, and press, – producing publications, the loaning and shipping of artworks, the installation and so on.

What upgrades to the Gallery (with the MAC renovation) are you excited about in particular?
Although the square footage is somewhat similar, the space feels more spacious due to the high ceiling which I love. It’s also a luxury having a bamboo floor rather than tile, and the outdoor courtyard is a beautiful addition ready to be explored.

What is the permanent art collection, and how do its goals complement the Cleve Carney Art Gallery?
The College’s permanent art collection is mostly made up of artworks created in the past fifty years. Highlights include recent art acquisitions by internationally known artists: Peter Doig, John Baldessari, Richard Serra, many Warhol’s and many works by artists that have exhibited in the College’s gallery.

The goal of the College of DuPage is to become a leading cultural environment that houses a significant contemporary art collection that is challenging and thought provoking to its viewers and complimentary to its educational programs. And to be a public art museum that weaves its way through every building on campus, creating a more beautiful and interesting environment for learning.

The Cleve Carney Art Gallery will offer year-round visual art exhibitions showcasing a variety of innovative art by regional, national and international artists. Our goal is to encourage the growth and understanding of contemporary art through exhibitions and educational programming that cultivate a variety of perspectives. Our vision is to be one of the best centers for contemporary art in the Chicago area. This is exactly what Cleve Carney envisioned with his generous donation.