Gresham Art Gallery Hosts First-Ever Virtual Exhibit, Featuring 10 Galleries

San Bernardino Valley College’s Gresham Art Gallery is now reaching an audience far beyond the Inland Empire.

SBVC purchased a one-year subscription to Kuntsmatrix, an online gallery platform, with the intent of hosting a student art show this spring. Because there weren’t enough submissions, Dr. Mandi Batalo, chair of the Art Department, decided to do something different — she initiated a collaboration between the gallery and Laurie Klein, a Rhode Island-based photographer and teacher.

Batalo met Klein during a virtual workshop last July, and learned that one of her “greatest dreams” was to have “the space to pursue a longtime vision of teaching an advanced course that would take her students deep into their creative souls and grow their artistic talents to new heights. This nine-month course was ‘Knee Deep,’ and because of the pandemic took place through Zoom.”

Batalo invited Klein and her “Knee Deep” students to showcase their work online using Kuntsmatrix, providing SBVC the chance to learn the ins and outs of how the platform works, while also giving the artists the opportunity to display pieces they created during the course.

The “Knee Deep” exhibit features 10 different virtual galleries — one for each participating artist. It will run through October 31, highlighting the work of a diverse group of photographers from across the United States and Mexico.

“This exhibit encapsulates how artists, like Laurie Klein, can nurture and assist new artists in virtual platforms that can be accessible to those across the country and the world,” Batalo said. “A virtual platform expands our students’ worldview and allows them to take pride in being part of a forward-looking institution.”

On the home page for “Knee Deep,” SBVC and the Gresham Art Gallery are both credited. In appreciation for hosting “Knee Deep,” Klein made a pitch for donations to the Gresham Art Gallery, and the facility received $500 — half of its yearly budget.

“It will allow us to continue to subscribe to the Kuntsmatrix virtual platform and to continue hosting virtual shows for another year,” Batalo said.

This collaboration benefits everyone involved, Gresham Art Gallery curator Ian White said, and the facility will continue to “encourage and provide students with opportunities to hear from not only regional artists, but national and international ones as well. The pandemic has revealed a unique and expansive platform, virtual programming, which includes not only lectures but exhibitions, cultural events, and experiences among others. It is crucial that SBVC be active in larger conversations and contribute accordingly.”

Batalo worked with White, Emily McNichols, and Beth Garst to get “Knee Deep” up and running, and said the Art Department and Gresham Art Gallery are grateful to Leticia Hector, Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Dina Humble, Vice President of Instruction, “for helping with the initial subscription of the virtual platform and believing in the vision of a virtual gallery.”

The photographers who participated in “Knee Deep” are: Monica Baumgartner of Illinois; Cheryl Cathcart of New Mexico; Beth Garst of Colorado; Larry Hanelin of Arizona; Dwight Holden of Mexico; Sandy Johnson of South Carolina; Parkes Jord of South Carolina; Dawn Miller of Texas; Randy Roussel of Louisiana; Dianna Walker of Texas; and Kimberly Winslow of Connecticut.

Founded in 1926, San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) is a comprehensive community college offering hundreds of degree programs, on campus and online.