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Bradbury Family Challenge Gift Provides for Art Museum


JONESBORO – A vital anchor of the arts community in East Arkansas since 2001, Bradbury Gallery at Arkansas State University is getting a new look and a new name.

Through the generosity of Curt and Chucki Bradbury of Little Rock, the gallery has evolved to become the Bradbury Art Museum (BAM).

The Bradburys are among the state's most enthusiastic and committed supporters of the arts.  She is the 2014-15 chair of the Arkansas Arts Center’s Board of Trustees.  Earlier this year, the couple received the Patron Award, one of the Governor's Arts Awards, which are sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council.

In 2001, Curt Bradbury provided the endowment for the gallery as a tribute to his wife, Charlotte Bornhoft (Chucki) Bradbury.  Chucki Bradbury holds bachelor's and master's degrees in business from Arkansas State, where she also served two terms as a gubernatorial appointee to the university's Board of Trustees.  Curt Bradbury is chief operating officer of Stephens Inc. in Little Rock.

Now the couple is financially supporting the arts venue's transformation to the Bradbury Art Museum by providing a matching challenge gift of $500,000.

"Perhaps the most gratifying part of this to me and Chucki is that Arkansas State University has created the environment within which our support can flourish," Curt Bradbury commented.  "That requires hard work, insight and passion for the art itself.  We think that Arkansas State in particular and Northeast Arkansas in general provide fertile ground for display and appreciation of fine art which need not take a back seat to any other region of the state."

Chancellor Tim Hudson announced the couple's major gift during a reception this evening at the ASU System Office in Little Rock.

"Curt and Chucki Bradbury have frequently demonstrated their deep appreciation for the arts and their perpetual commitment to Arkansas State University," Dr. Hudson said.  "We are very touched by their generosity. Bradbury Art Museum will feature changing exhibitions of art in all media along with programs that promote the understanding of art and its significance, both for our students and the public."

The Bradbury Art Museum, a contemporary art facility, was renamed to better reflect its scope and purpose.

The museum designation more accurately defines its function as a collecting and viewing institution rather than a commercial enterprise.  In the United States, a gallery is more typically a retail art business or a single-room exhibition space within a larger facility or museum.  Galleries normally do not own, amass or oversee permanent collections which was a significant aspect of the Bradbury Gallery and will continue to be a large part of the museum’s function.

The 5,200 square-foot exhibition space has been redesigned to create five separate galleries where collections of artwork will be shown on a rotating basis offering viewers a greater number of exhibitions and broader variety of artwork.  Visitors can return every few weeks to view new exhibitions and participate in new programming.

Les Christensen, director of the Bradbury Art Museum, said a series of educational workshops, lectures, presentations, discussions and other creative activities will be held independently and in conjunction with current exhibitions.

"At the university level we will work with art and art education students to help produce some of these instructional events, and we will also continue to initiate inter-disciplinary creative endeavors," Christensen said. 

"Along with other artists, the museum also provides exhibition opportunities for students and faculty at the university," she added.  "Through partnering with local schools, senior centers, organizations and businesses we will provide specially tailored arts programming to the public."

Graduating studio art majors from A-State are required to have a public exhibition as their capstone project.  Students are required to professionally exhibit their work using museum standards that are taught in a course prior to their exhibition.

Each year the facility features the work of A-State Department of Art faculty members. The entire faculty is represented in a biennial exhibition; in the future, the museum configuration will create opportunities for solo exhibitions as an incentive to individual faculty members.

The Bradbury Gallery has been the site for numerous outstanding art exhibitions since its grand opening more than 14 years ago.  As an art museum, it has even greater potential to become the arts education and cultural enrichment venue the Bradbury family has envisioned.

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