Most students know of the Good Library Gallery. However, there is more to the gallery than meets the eye.
Fritz Hartman, Good Library director and manager of the art gallery, explained that the gallery was built as part of the original design for the library. Since 1967, a great variety of displays have been held in the gallery.
The gallery hosts two to four galleries each year and has held over 150 unique galleries since its inception.
Nonetheless, delays in building construction pushed the first 1967 gallery to another location, according to Joe Springer, Mennonite Historical Library curator. The first display at the Goshen Gallery, “The Kinetic Sculpture,” made its premiere in November 1967, one piece of which can still be seen at the south end of the Library’s 2nd floor lounge. For Hartman, one of his favorite displays ever was one featuring quilts.
The Good Library Gallery is a testament to the history of art at GC. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the Good Library Gallery was at the cornerstone of GC’s art department, though it began to lose importance when the Hershberger Gallery was opened in the college’s Music Center. This, according to Hartman, became the primary location for displays.
When the Indonesian Gamelan arrived last year, the Good Library Gallery was considered as a location to host it, but it was determined to be very complicated to move the instrument downstairs. Instead, the Music Center’s Hershberger Gallery won the honors.
Nonetheless, while other galleries have come on and gone at GC, the Good Library’s has lived on. Other displays, including one in the Student Union Building, eventually closed down. “The Mennonite Historical Committee has had a display and various art classes have their displays down there,” Hartman said of the exhibits that have kept the library’s gallery going strong. “We also recognize its limits. It’s in the basement, not a high traffic area,” he said.
The Good Library Gallery does occupy a unique place in Goshen College’s history, having been the location of the college’s first-ever security camera. “Often times when you have displays of what could be priceless artifacts, you get a security camera,” Hartman said. However, the camera could not record, so it was connected to a bulky TV upstairs which librarians watched with vigilance.
Hartman would like to see the Good Library Gallery continue to be used. However, if a better gallery space comes along, he is willing to give it up. “The exhibits are more important than the space themselves and that the exhibits happen,” Hartman said.
This begs the question, what would become of the gallery? Hartman proposed that it could be used as an archival space, something desperately needed. “It’s not like as years go on you collect fewer things, that’s the point of an archive. It grows,” Hartman explained.
Yet anyone who loves the Good Library Gallery will appreciate knowing that it is not going to turn into an archive anytime soon. There are currently no immediate plans in place, whether it eventually becomes an archive or, perhaps, a classroom.
The gallery is currently displaying student art and is free for anyone to visit. The display was organized by Randy Horst, professor of art at GC, and marks the ninth time that a themed student art exhibition occupies the Good Library Gallery.
“Arranging an exhibit is a large scale design project,” Randy Horst said. Instead of grouping similar pieces, the artwork is spread out in terms of “size, by medium and by color versus black and white,” Horst explained. Horst advises anyone who holds a gallery to focus the attention on what they’ve created and that exhibiting the art is the best way to show it off.
The Good Library Gallery may be one of the underappreciated treasures of the Good Library. While many students may brush by the basement gallery, it soldiers on, giving artists a place to display their work to the GC community.