During the construction of Well•Spring: A Life Plan Community’s new Resident Activity Center, a small empty space caught the eye of Lynn Wooten, vice president of marketing and public relations. Wooten had previously served as president of the Weatherspoon Museum Association Board, and he knew how to use this compact, high-traffic spot: he wanted to bring a little piece of UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum to Well•Spring.
Thanks to a generous gift from Woman’s College (UNCG) alumna and current Well•Spring resident Jo Safrit, the Jo Safrit and Cathy Ennis Gallery will be established in this space as a remote Weatherspoon exhibition space. It’s set to open early next year.
The new gallery may be small, but like Weatherspoon itself its size does nothing to belie the quality of the art and programs that will be hosted there. A rotating exhibition of art from Weatherspoon’s permanent collection will be present at the gallery.
“Because they don’t keep a permanent display, a lot of things of theirs only come out from time to time,” Wooten says. “This will offer an opportunity to have some more exposure, to be seen by more people and to be enjoyed more often. I love the idea that our residents get to see great art on a daily basis.”
The opening exhibition is planned to feature the work of Gregory Ivy, who founded the Weatherspoon and played a vital role in the development of the visual arts both at UNCG and in the wider Greensboro community.
In addition to the exhibitions, Well•Spring and Weatherspoon will collaboratively plan workshops and talks. One example? An annual Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture, where a chosen artist will be invited to give a lecture at Well•Spring, highlighting the museum’s focus on contemporary art.
All of these exhibitions and educational opportunities are a natural next step in Weatherspoon and Well•Spring’s long relationship. Well•Spring has been a frequent benefactor of the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and has sponsored events put on by both Weatherspoon and UNCG as a whole.
This kind of integration with the wider Greensboro community has been one of the primary goals of Weatherspoon director Nancy Doll since she took the position in 1998.
“We’re not just UNCG’s art museum,” she says, “We’re Greensboro’s art museum too, and always have been.”
This opportunity to further Weatherspoon’s status as Greensboro’s art museum by bringing world-class art into a new setting pairs nicely with Well•Spring’s commitment to provide fulfilling opportunities for cultural engagement and continued learning to its residents.
“The arts are a vital part of our lives,” Doll says. “A big part of our education is that it’s in the looking and what you get back from the work of art, and it’s different for every person. No two people see the work exactly alike, and no two people come away with the exact same impression.”
This will be the Weatherspoon’s second gallery beyond the walls of their Cone Arts Building home on the UNCG campus. Their gallery at Revolution Mill opened in 2016.
The gallery at Well-Spring is planned to open in February 2019. Before that, Wooten will hang poster boards promoting some of the upcoming art, to start spreading awareness of the gallery before it opens.
“My experience [at the Weatherspoon] has really widened my view, not just of artwork, but how I see things,” he says, “I mean, literally how I see things, and look at things, and pay attention to different visuals. I found that to be a really profound evolution in my understanding of things, and I attribute a lot of that to the Weatherspoon.”
That’s the value of art, which will be shared with the Well•Spring community when the gallery opens next year.
By Avery Campbell
Photo courtesy of Well-Spring