ORANGE, Calif., February 14, 2012 – A new cultural resource has come to Orange County, as Chapman University announces the public opening of the new Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art on its campus in Orange.   Named in honor of major donors Phyllis and Ross Escalette of Newport Beach, Calif., the collection consists of more than 700 pieces — contemporary paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture — by some of the world’s most acclaimed artists, ranging from Robert Rauschenberg and Tony DeLap to Bruce Nauman, Josef Albers, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella, Mary Corse, Billy Al Bengston, Eric Orr, Frank Oliveira and Richard Serra.   The collection is unusual in that it is not housed in a museum or gallery, but displayed in locations throughout the campus, in classroom and office buildings and (in the case of some large-scale sculptures) outdoors.

Although Chapman Curator Maggi Owens has been building the collection for several years and the works have been on view to students, faculty, staff and visitors, the university is just now announcing its opening to the public, because security measures are now in place to protect it.

“Art has an astounding ability to transcend language, culture and even time itself,” said Chapman University President Jim Doti.  “There is a sort of osmosis that happens when you’re immersed in an environment so rich in aesthetic stimulation.  Maggi Owens has done an exceptional job of growing this collection and housing it throughout the classroom buildings and grounds, where it is available to the entire university community — a gallery without walls.  We’re extremely fortunate for our community members to be able to spend their days surrounded by these inspirational works of art.”

“The purpose of the Escalette Collection is to advance the community’s understanding and appreciation of human creativity and imagination,” says curator Owens.  “The collection complements and strengthens the university atmosphere, which combines scholarship, creativity, free expression and intellectual curiosity.  We are pleased and proud to now open this valuable cultural offering to the general public to visit and enjoy.”

Though the Escalette Collection’s main strength lies in its growing assemblage of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by modern masters, it also encompasses fine collections of African art (mainly 20th-century sculptures and objects from West Africa, including a unique set of hand-painted movie posters from Ghana, displayed in various locations on the campus) and Russian iconography (a stellar collection of 19th-century icons donated by the late Evelyn LaLanne of Laguna Beach, currently exhibited on the fourth floor of the Leatherby Libraries).   Recent acquisitions for the collection include works by Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, Patrick Wilson, Hubert Schmalix and Nicholas Shake, which will be unveiled at a February 14 press event announcing the opening of the collection.

The university has formed an Art Advisory Board to counsel on new acquisitions and to further guide the growth of the Escalette Permanent Collection of Art.   Chapman University also plans to soon announce the formation of a Friends of the Escalette Permanent Collection of Art group that will combine educational and social pursuits while supporting the future of the collection.

Find out more about Chapman University’s Escalette Permanent Collection of Art:





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