The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University was established in 1975 as the Stony Brook University Art Gallery.
Rhonda Cooper, former director, joined the gallery in 1983, bringing works by celebrated artists to the campus, including pieces by Yoko Ono, Larry Rivers, Elizabeth Murray and Philip Pearlstein. The gallery presents dynamic professional exhibitions in its 5,000 square foot space in the Staller Center on the Stony Brook campus. In addition, it presents exhibitions each year featuring the work of Stony Brook University undergraduate and graduate students as well as works by the distinguished faculty of the university’s art department. The Staller Center renamed the space the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery on April 4, 2013, in recognition of the generosity of Alice Zuccaire and the Paul W. Zuccaire Foundation. The Zuccaire Foundation seeks to perpetuate the memory and the spirit of Paul W. Zuccaire through the encouragement, promotion and support of the arts, education, health, and humanitarian activities through grants to nonprofit institutions.
Cooper retired after 30 years of service in 2013. She was succeeded by Karen Levitov, who strives to continue Cooper’s legacy of educational programming and diverse exhibitions, with an emphasis on contemporary art and enhancing the gallery’s outreach. We spoke with Levitov about the gallery.
Q: What makes the gallery space special and unique to Stony Brook University?
Levitov: It’s a fabulous space. It has 24-foot high ceilings and windows interconnecting with the second floor. We’re open from Tuesday to Friday and, during exhibitions, we extend hours to Saturday. This way the students have a chance to check it out between classes or at the start of the weekend.
Q: What are some central ideas that you, as a curator and director, mean to convey through the exhibitions?
I try to include student work as much as I can. They’re the core of this all. We always present the MFA student theses, and this year we’re doing a new special feature on faculty.
Q: How has the surrounding community responded to the gallery and its programs?
The gallery’s proven to be quite engaging. Students have the opportunity to see work created by their peers. And the public is always invited to come and enjoy. We have free parking and the Staller Center is a large and gorgeous space, so it’s very inviting.
Q: How do you choose which artist or group to display?
I look for possible artists that will prove engaging for the community, art that’s in the moment, that’s current, that’s showing in Manhattan and Brooklyn. And I try to show artists that have been particularly interesting to me for years. My first professional artist show here, in fact, was with Kate Gilmore. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time.
This fall, the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery will present two exhibitions. Opening September 15 is the Faculty Exhibition, featuring new work by Stony Brook University’s internationally known faculty artists. The 2015 Faculty Exhibition will include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, video installation and digital media. A reception will be held on Wednesday, October 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., with light refreshments available.
The second exhibition, Isabel Manalo: Skin Codes, opens on Saturday, November 7, with a reception for the artist from 7 to 9 p.m. Isabel Manalo is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work addresses ideas of power and identity as defined by race, ethnicity, geography and class. Combining photography, drawing, painting, sewing and writing, her work embraces visual clues and coding inspired by maps and the science of cartography, and most recently, by tattooing.
All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday 12 to 4 p.m. The Gallery is also open Saturdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. while exhibitions are on view.
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook. 631-632-7240, zuccairegallery.stonybrook.edu.