Cal Poly Pomona gallery hires new director

By Marcelo Villa

Cal Poly Pomona’s W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art
Gallery is now under the direction of Shari Wasson, a woman
dedicated to upholding the gallery’s success and prestige.

Former curator Patrick Merrill was in charge of the Kellogg
Gallery from 1997 to 2009. He was responsible for making the
gallery a more diverse locale for local and international artists.
Merrill died on Aug. 31, 2010 after a battle with colon cancer.

Wasson’s passion for art and education speaks for itself, given
her 13 years of experience teaching art at the college level.

Wasson taught in the Cal Poly Pomona art department from 2005 to
2009 as a lecturer for introductory drawing classes. Wasson has
also worked as a faculty member at Mount San Antonio College and
Chaffey College teaching multiple art courses.

“I found being an instructor in Cal Poly’s art department to be
very rewarding,” said Wasson in an e-mail. “I had colleagues that I
respected and appreciated and a talented diverse and motivated
student population to work with.”

Wasson’s love for the arts surfaced during her studies at the
university level. Wasson earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997
from Cal State Fullerton and her Master in Fine Arts in 2001 from
the University of New Mexico.

As an artist, Wasson is recognized for her contemporary drawings
and sculptures.

Her work has been in numerous galleries including the Haus
Gallery in Pasadena and SCA gallery in Pomona.

In 2003, Wasson took on the role as director of Pomona’s SCA
Gallery; a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in the
Pomona Art’s Colony.

Her job was to bring more variety to the gallery’s exhibits.

“I found this to be a very satisfying role, as it gave me the
opportunity to present contemporary art to my local community,”
said Wasson.

Following Merrill’s passing, the task of finding a new curator
was given to a small group of administrators from the college of
environmental design.

This group included: Michael Woo, dean of the college of
environmental design; Babette Mayor, chair of the art department;
and Sarah Meyer, a member of the art department faculty.

“I was a member of the search committee which concluded that she
[Wasson] was the best candidate for the job,” said Woo. “I would
expect for her to continue the Kellogg Gallery’s success in the
community.”

The committee was in unanimous agreement when evaluating
applicants for the vacant curator position. They immediately knew
that Wasson was the most qualified for the position.

“That was easy,” said Mayor. “I actually knew Shari for several
years as a lecturer in our department. She is an extremely talented
artist and a very responsible person. She’s a true professional,
very ethical, and she had the right experience.”

Wasson relished the opportunity to serve as director and became
instantly attracted to the offer.

“I saw the position of gallery director as an engaging and
creative avenue through which to expand my role and service to Cal
Poly’s academic community, as well as the surrounding communities,”
said Wasson.

Wasson accepted the offer without hesitation and immediately set
expectations high.

“My broad goal for the gallery is for it to present quality,
compelling exhibitions that offer opportunities for aesthetic
enrichment, spark intellectual inquiry, and promote dialogue,” said
Wasson. “My ultimate desire is for the gallery to thrive and grow
in its role on campus and within the community.”

Wasson’s aspirations for the gallery include continuing the
long-standing success of the “Ink and Clay” exhibition and
expanding its notice in the community and nationwide.

“Plans are also underway to take our annual regional juried
competition, “Ink & Clay,” to a national level,” said Wasson. ”
The caliber of this show has already won it great regional
visibility and a stellar reputation. I look forward to raising the
exhibition and Kellogg’s profile to a national height.”

One of the main concerns Wasson has for the gallery is the lack
of awareness from the campus community. The desire to bring in a
larger audience to the gallery is a must for Wasson.

“In terms of the campus community, we get good class and student
traffic,” said Wasson. “However, now and then there are instances
of graduating seniors visiting one of our exhibitions and
proclaiming that they had been unaware until that moment that Cal
Poly actually had an art gallery. So, I look forward to promoting
greater visibility and positioning the gallery to become an even
more vital part of campus life.”

Cal Poly Pomona gallery hires new director

Edward Hsi/The Poly Post

Cal Poly Pomona gallery hires new director

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