Cal State East Bay’s University Art Gallery is Back in Action

Maha Sanad, Social Media Editor

Gallery Curator, Carolina Gainey-Vejar, Discussed the University Art Gallery and Her Hopes For Its Post-Pandemic Future

California State University, East Bay’s art department is an integral part of its community with its ever-changing art gallery open to students and faculty. Supporting the arts is important especially in a community composed of people from various backgrounds and cultures like CSUEB is.

Carolina Gainey-Vejar, the curator for the University Art Gallery, is an advocate for getting more people involved in the gallery, both visitors and artists.

While the gallery’s current display, the 2021 Faculty Art Exhibition, is coming to a close on Oct. 14, there are future exhibits to look forward to.

According to Gainey-Vejar, the Alumni Exhibition will open on Oct. 20 until Nov. 19 and will feature artwork from CSUEB alumni.

“We will have some graphic design work, visual work, paintings, hopefully, some photographs, maybe some sculpture and ceramic work… usually we will feature local alumni as well as alumni who submit for the online exhibition,” she said.

For those who can not attend the exhibit in person, Gainey-Vejar assures that there will be an online version of the exhibit available.

At this time, visits to the art gallery are only available by making an appointment to go during their open hours: Monday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. However, Gainey-Vejar hopes that by the Alumni show, the gallery will be fully open.

Like most things, the art gallery suffered during the year it was closed due to COVID-19.
“In the past, I’ve actually had a lot of people who just live around the university and the surrounding neighborhoods who come to the university to walk, and they would come and visit the art gallery…The amount of foot traffic that’s been in the gallery has been about half of what it normally is.”

Before the pandemic, the gallery was open to everyone including the public. Gainey-Vejar is hopeful that the number of visitors to the gallery will improve in the Spring term with more people being on campus again.

The upcoming Alumni Exhibition is also a chance to test out the waters when it comes to opening the gallery to the public again.

“I work with the Alumni Association and they do a big Pioneer Alumni weekend event coming up on Saturday, Oct. 23… that will be a day I will have the gallery open to the public to walk through the gallery and see some Alumni work,” Gainey-Vejar said.

As critical as visitors are to supporting the gallery, there is also always room for more artists to showcase their work. Gainey-Vejar teases a few upcoming student opportunities in the springtime, including a juried show in April.

“We give away scholarships and awards to students who have taken an art class in that academic school year. By entering [the show], you are eligible to be awarded an art award or scholarship. There’s also a multimedia-based show that’s open to all students in the Spring, usually in March, including grad students.”

As a CSUEB alumni herself who graduated with an art degree, Gainey-Vejar is very passionate about students taking advantage of the opportunity to show off their work. She has been working in the gallery for about 10 years and started as a student assistant working her way up to gallery curator from there.

“It is very rewarding in a sense just to be able to see students and other creative people be inspired and work through their process of becoming a better artist as a student. For me, the space specifically, it’s like a second home.”

Gainey-Vejar emphasizes the importance of the community having grown up and still living in the surrounding area. More specifically, she points out how fruitful it is to work in your own community.

“The university is a part of my community. There’s a sense of pride for me in working in my community because I feel like nowadays, there’s not a lot of opportunities for people to work directly in their communities.”

The upcoming Alumni Exhibition is not the only thing to look forward to from the University Art Gallery.

“I have a few to be announced shows that may possibly happen at the end of this semester, including a Senior Showcase for graduating students,” Gainey-Vejar said.

As the gallery curator, Gainey-Vejar has the unique opportunity of witnessing the behind-the-scenes of the art gallery. She has an abundance of gratitude for her job and acknowledged that she is constantly learning and growing.

“I’m very grateful for my position at the gallery. It’s taught me a lot as an artist but also as an individual working for the university; the ins and outs on what it takes to coordinate events and collaborate with students, faculty, and other departments across campus. I’ve learned a lot in my position of being a curator at the art gallery, and it is rewarding.”

As members of CSUEB’s community, we should support fellow students and local artists in their creative endeavors. The gallery is open to all and we can all benefit from a visit to the gallery for the opportunity to explore different points of view.

To learn how to schedule a free visit to the University Art Gallery, visit the gallery website.