Arts & Culture

photo of the entrance to the John and Melissa Besse Center building

Bay College Arts and Culture

THE ARTS AT BAY COLLEGE: AN INTEGRAL PART OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Students, faculty, staff, visitors, playgoers, concert lovers, conferees, or administrators enter the doors of Bay College and are immediately in the presence of art.  Hallways, galleries, classrooms, and offices display paintings, drawings, pottery, and, also on the grounds, sculpture. The arts are alive and robust at Bay, thanks to a committed administration, a dedicated faculty and staff, and several more than generous donors.

As one of President Laura Coleman’s three As-- Academics, Arts, and Athletics—that enrich the college environment and student development, art works its magic directly and indirectly.  Simply walking about the campus, one can’t help but be influenced by the artist’s eye for beauty, craft, and engagement with the aesthetics of living.  Art students attend exhibit openings to hear the featured artist discuss his or her art.  Art faculty use gallery showings to help instruct their students in the wide range of artistic possibility and the creative power of the individual. 
 
The art in the college’s permanent collection comes from three main sources:

  • Art student showings of their studio work in various art disciplines.  Each semester closes with a student exhibit.  First place prizewinners become part of the collection via the purchase prize.
  • Gifts from art dealers, collectors, trusts, and the artists themselves. 
  • Purchases from Bay’s gallery exhibits, William Bonifas Arts Center competitions, and elsewhere are funded by the generous endowment for the arts given by Lawrence Hartwig.
 
In the fall of 2008, the John and Melissa Besse Center, a gift from the Besse Foundation, opened.  The Center houses the Besse Center Theater, a theater any college would be proud to have, as well as a wrap-around art gallery that can handle just about any exhibit.  The outstanding architecture, the work of Stuart Pettitt and his associates, is a piece of art in itself, as are his other campus buildings, the Heirman Center and the Learning Resources Center.  Integrated into the campus environment as to be a walk-through for most college foot traffic, art exhibits in the Besse Gallery are a part of anyone’s sojourn to classes, the LRC, the parking lots, or CafĂ© Bay.  Clusters of passersby often stop to admire the art and to compare opinions.


The Besse Gallery exhibits feature the region’s best individual artists,  the semester-ending Art Students Show, various galas, traveling exhibits from state and federal organizations, and the work of advanced art student, generally for a run of two months.  The Hartwig Gallery in the Bonifas building, offers monthly shows from regional artists, art faculty, and several amalgams of work appropriate to a particular academic discipline.