EWU Downtown Student Art Gallery closing


Bailey Monteith

The Downtown Student Art Gallery was previously supported by student activities fees but lost its funding in 2018.

By Sam Jackson and Kaisa Siipola

The EWU Downtown Student Art Gallery will be closed indefinitely by June 14.

The gallery, located in Brewster Hall, was opened in May 2015 as a nonprofit managed by EWU Student Affairs.

The gallery was previously supported by student activities fees but lost its funding in 2018.

According to Angela Jones, vice president of student affairs, the student activities committee “decided that supporting the gallery with student activities and fee dollars was not the best use of funds” because students weren’t visiting the space as much as Cheney community members. The information attributed by Jones was provided in an email to The Easterner by the executive assistant to the vice president of student affairs Elizabeth Baker.

“Closing the gallery was a difficult decision to make because the arts are an important part of our culture,” said Jones. “However, when making decisions like this, we have to look at where our funding is best spent, and right now utilizing our funding to support our students as they transition from freshman to college senior is our priority.”

Baker, also the manager of the gallery, added that she is experiencing sadness and disappointment over the loss of the space.

“During the time we were open, the gallery hosted some amazing exhibitions and I had the opportunity to work with wonderful artists, students, staff and faculty,” Baker said. “I’m going to miss having those opportunities.”

Losing the gallery will impact the Cheney community and the artists who had their work shown more than EWU will realize.”

— Brooke Nicholson, former program assistant

Jones said that, while the gallery was an important part of campus, the students and Cheney community can take advantage of the EWU Art Gallery, located in the center of the Art Building. The EWU Art Gallery hosts exhibits including student, faculty and other artists’ work.

Brooke Nicholson, former program assistant at the downtown art gallery and current secretary of Africana Studies, told The Easterner in an email that the gallery provided opportunities for many different artists “to connect with an audience and create potential sales.”

“Losing the gallery will impact the Cheney community and the artists who had their work shown more than EWU will realize,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson also said that it is unfortunate EWU will no longer have this outlet for Cheney residents to feel a connection to the university and that students are losing an opportunity to gain more real world experiences in the art industry.

For Jones, the thought of the gallery closing is “heartbreaking.” She said that difficult decisions must be made in challenging times.

“Instead of focusing on the negative, we should focus on the positive, and look at the opportunities it provided,” Jones said. “Appreciate that the gallery hosted artists from different cultures and backgrounds: Nicolas Sironka who painted about his African culture and shared with us the history of his people; Jake Prendez who presented works on Chicanx culture and continues to work to defeat stereotypes through his paintings; and Ric Gendron who shared his vibrant and powerful images that expressed broad ranges of emotions and reflections of his heritage.”

The last art display showcased at the gallery will be the Visual Communication Design BFA exhibit, titled “Fractured,” on May 21 to June 14.


Full disclosure: Nicholson is the former program director for The Easterner.

Kaisa Siipola contributed to this report.