Great Plains Art Museum celebrates opening of new artist studio and public education lab

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ABOUT THIS PHOTO: Casey Seger, museum registrar (left), Fred Hoppe, museum benefactor; Erin Jones Graf, museum artists-in-residence; Julie Hoppe, museum benefactor; and Ashley Hussman, museum administrator and curator, celebrate “Among the Purple Lupine,” a painting by Jones Graf that joined the museum’s collection. The Hoppes’ provided a donation that enabled the museum to develop a permanent space for its Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-in-Residence program. Jones Graff is the first visiting artists to use the new space designed as an art studio and public education lab.

The Great Plains Art Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln held a grand opening for the new Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-in-Residence Studio and Education Lab on April 5, 2019.

Fred and Julie Hoppe of Lincoln provided a gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation which made the development of the studio and public education lab possible. The space is named in honor of Fred Hoppe’s aunt, Elizabeth Rubendall, and is located on the lower level of the museum.

Since its inception in 2006, the Elizabeth Rubendall Foundation has funded the artist-in-residence program, which allows museum visitors and school groups to see an artist in action. The program brings an artist to Lincoln each year to create a piece of artwork at the museum that will become part of its permanent collection.

Erin Jones Graf, a fine art oil and pastel painter from Bozeman, Montana, is the 2019 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-in-Residence and is the inaugural artist-in-residence for the opening of the new studio and education lab.

“I was beyond surprised at the enormity and functionality of the space when I walked in,” said Jones Graf, whose work largely depicts the landscapes in which she grew up surrounded by where she lives currently. “The opportunities of what can happen in the studio are vast.”

Over the past two weeks, museum visitors including community members, students and faculty had the opportunity to experience Jones Graf’s exhibition “Montana: Prairies to Peaks.” They also had the opportunity to talk to her about her work and see her new painting titled “Among the Purple Lupine” which is the newest addition to the permanent collection of the Great Plains Art Museum.

“Julie and I are proud to have donated the Rubendall Artist-in-Residence Studio and Education Lab which will give the Great Plains Art Museum dedicated space for educational activities,” Fred Hoppe said. “The purpose of an artist-in-residence is to share talent, technique and inspiration. It is hoped that this new space will make interactivity between artist and onlooker simple, direct and comfortable; thus, enhancing the experience.”

Ashley Hussman, Great Plains Art Museum administrator and curator, said the new space will positively impact the community.

“This new studio not only provides a beautiful and functional space for our annual artist-in-residence, but it also allows the museum to expand its educational programming and collaborations with campus and the local community,” Hussman said. “We are so thankful for the Hoppes’ generosity and their continued support of the museum.”

The Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St., is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free. For information call 402-472-6220.

This article was written by Jessica Moore, public relations intern at the University of Nebraska, who studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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