New art project taking over first floor of Brewster Hall


Photo by Laura Lango

Brewster Hall, located in Cheney on Second St., is a residence hall at EWU.

By Claire Simpson & Ariel Kimbleton, for the Easterner

Brewster Hall’s communal space on the first floor has been hidden behind a large plastic tarp as construction crews convert the area into an art gallery sponsored by Student Affairs.

The EWU Downtown Student Gallery, as it is tentatively named, will open its doors on April 30 and serve as a space for faculty, guest artists and students to showcase their artwork in a location closer to the heart of Cheney.

“I think, hopefully, if it flies in the tradition of a real art gallery, we’ll have a culmination of things,” said Beth Baker, executive assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs. “It would be great to get student artwork there, maybe even alumni … because we want it to be a creative space.”

Baker said Brewster Hall was chosen for its proximity to the downtown area and the room’s potential.

“It was a vacant space; it’s a beautiful space,” she said. “It’s large, lots of walls. An art gallery is based on linear feet; it’s not based on square feet. So that’s how many pictures can hang along the wall. And it’s close to downtown, right in the [residential] hall.”

The former event space has been undergoing renovations to prepare it for opening to the public. Art department chair Greg duMonthier said he was consulted on the proper construction of a gallery space.

According to Baker, projects included removing shelving brackets from the walls, pulling up the carpet and applying a fresh coat of paint.

“I remember the construction being kind of noisy,” said sophomore Hayden Cain, a Brewster Hall resident. “My room is two floors right above where it was going on. It wasn’t too bad, though. It would start around 9 or ten in the morning when people were usually going to class, so I didn’t mind too much. I’d hate to be on the second floor, though.”

Originally, the art department was planning to have a larger role in management of the gallery, but time and staffing constraints resulted in Student Affairs assuming full control.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be … an art department thing and then if it was, I needed to have the support to run it. … It’s actually quite a bit of work,” said duMonthier.

The art department will host future exhibits in the new gallery, as will the design department, whose faculty are guest curating the first showcase to fill the space.

“We hope, actually, that eventually we can have student shows there, faculty shows there, but really, it’s happened so fast that we haven’t looked beyond [this first event],” said Mindy Breen, associate professor of design and co-curator of the event.

“Small Towns,” as the exhibit is called, will open with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 30 and close on June 14. Guest curators Breen, Ginelle Hustrulid and Travis Masingale are receiving submissions from high school students in three Washington towns: Walla Walla, Colfax and Colville. These submissions will be grouped into an artistic photomural, according to the call-for-submissions flyer.

While plans have been set in motion, the residents of Brewster Hall were left uninformed of the changes happening to their dorm’s event area.

“[The CAs] actually had a program set for the day that construction began that had to be rescheduled due to short notice,” said Katie Sweeney, first floor CA in Brewster Hall.

“[The residents] had no prior notice of what was happening,” said junior and Brewster Hall resident Rachel Gidding. “I remember one day attending a program in the area, and then a few days later, there was construction.”

Although the project has moved quickly through the stages of planning and construction while being relatively unknown, Baker is optimistic the students will embrace the gallery.

“This is a really great opportunity for students to really get involved more in what’s happening within the arts section. … So, hopefully, it will be good for the community and for Eastern.”