The newly expanded Oremus Fine Arts Center at Lewis University was rededicated recently, celebrating the completion of construction and enhancements over the past year. The center is home to the vibrant theatre, art and music programs on the Lewis main campus, and serves as a cultural resource for Will County and the southwest Cook County area.
Enhancements to the Oremus Fine Arts Center include a new Art Gallery, a new Studio Theatre, renovations to the main lobby, gathering and meeting spaces, expanded scenery and costume areas and a percussion room for music. Central to the enhancements are the Art Gallery, consisting of three areas for flexibility in presenting exhibits and showcasing both student and professional art, and the new, flexible theatre space – the Studio Theatre - which will serve as a creative classroom, rehearsal and production venue.
“The expansion of the Oremus Fine Arts Center will enhance the excellent educational and cultural experiences provided by the Art, Theatre and Music programs. Students and tens of thousands of community members have benefited from so many occasions and presentations here, such as theatre productions, concerts and art exhibits. The $4 million in enhancements to this historic building adds to the other 20 or so undertakings at the university in the last two decades, which total close to $200 million in new buildings and improvements for the university,” commented Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University.
At the Dedication and Blessing ceremony, Keith White, professor and chair of the Theatre Department, said: “The creation of these spaces shows all of our students the importance of fine arts in a Lasallian and liberal arts education. These changes will certainly benefit our students’ educations, first and foremost. The new spaces will provide growth opportunities for our students, our program and future generations.”
The Oremus Fine Arts Center was originally an airplane hangar and academic space. In the 1970s, the hangar portion was transformed into the Philip Lynch Theatre. In 1991, the structure was renovated and named to honor John and Angeline Oremus, generous benefactors of Lewis University. The building is home to the Art, Music and Theatre programs as well as the Philip Lynch Theatre, Art Gallery and the Ives Recital Hall.
The new art gallery first hosted artwork by students, faculty and alumni throughout the month of February. Currently, Chicago artist Frank Trankina’s work is on display through March and will be followed in April by Chicago artist Carol Luc. Open to the public, the gallery’s schedule is 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Professor Mark Swain, chair of the Lewis University Art and Design Department, looks forward to future art exhibitions in the new art gallery. He said, “This new space brings infinite possibilities for our students and the Lewis community as a whole. Our potential to become a sought after venue for high quality art exhibition is clear. We look forward to meeting this challenge.”
One of the most highly-utilized buildings on campus, the Oremus Fine Arts Center hosts hundreds of student performances, concerts, community events and lectures each year and is visited by more than 28,000 patrons from surrounding communities. Along with the Lewis theatre department, many groups use the Lewis theatre facilities for meetings, rehearsals or performances. These include the Arts & Ideas Touring Series, Heritage Theatre Company, Alphabet Soup Productions, and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra. The theatre’s next production, “The Beaux Stratagem,” will take place in mid-April.
“I’m inspired when I think of the recent enhancements to the Oremus Fine Arts Center,” added Jo Slowik, manager of the Philip Lynch Theatre and 1988 Lewis alumna. “It has been a time of reflection and renewal. …We continue to create fine arts for our community, alumni, and the students we serve.”
For more information on the Fine Arts program at Lewis University, as well as a schedule of upcoming events in theatre, art and music, please visit http://www.lewsiu.edu.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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