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The INbox Guide to Bloomington Museums: Grunwald Gallery

April 12, 2019
Grunwald Gallery wide shot

Bloomington takes pride in being a city that not only supports the arts but encourages its artists. There are multiple museums featuring many genres of artwork collected and created by artists both near and far, but none are quite like Grunwald gallery.

The Grunwald Gallery of Art was established in 1983 and was originally named Indiana University’s School of Fine Arts Gallery. It was created with the purpose of featuring and promoting artwork not only created by professional artists, but student artists as well.

'monument to tired twenty-somethings' sculpture'addict' sculpture Grunwald

The gallery was developed in order to fill a vacancy left by the Indiana University Museum of Art (which later became the Eskenazi Museum of Artwhen they moved to a bigger location. The gallery is still located inside the Fine Arts building, but in 2011 it took on a new name in honor of John A. Grunwald.

Born in Hungary in 1935, Grunwald was a survivor of the Holocaust and emigrated to the U.S. in 1950. He started out in New York but soon made his way to Bloomington with a desire to attend Indiana University. By 1956, he had earned his degree in economics through IU and also met the love of his life, Rita.

After marriage, the two travelled and lived throughout Europe only to come back “home” to Bloomington. He and his wife were devoted in their passion for the arts and became active participants in all of the art-centered programs and departments at the university.

John passed away in 2009. Rita honored his memory and their shared love of the arts by endowing the museum with a donation in his name. In 2011, the gallery was renamed to honor John, as well as Rita, who is still a frequent visitor of the gallery.

'The Seventh Day' sculpture Grunwald"The Seventh Day" wicker ball Grunwald

It can take anywhere from two to four years for the gallery director and coordinator to plan an exhibition. Grunwald Gallery strives to utilize every resource available and being connected to the university often opens doors when it comes to collaborating.

“What we do here is very unique,” Gallery Coordinator Linda Tien said. “There are other galleries in Bloomington that focus on contemporary art, but not many that showcase our level of collaboration. We’ve had exhibitions where artists collaborate with other scholars or scientists on campus to then create pieces for a show.”

"Keep It Warm" sculpture Grunwald

Zinyu Wang demonstrates the combination of art and science with her piece entitled, “Keep it Warm,” in which lined cocoons made of wool actually vibrate through the network that connects them.

“They are communicating but also sealing,” Wang explains. “Connected to each other but from a distance. This state of equilibrium is very peculiar. The balance between primitive and advanced; nature and science.”

The gallery focuses on contemporary art and frequently features work done by students receiving their bachelor’s or master’s degrees through the art program at IU.

SECTOR 36 Grunwald GallerySECTOR 36 Grunwald Gallery 2

“We often don’t think of art as being scientific or scholarly,” Tien said. “But when you put these two kinds of people together it becomes obvious that art is involved. Just because you might not call yourself an artist or consider what you make ‘art,’ doesn’t mean you are not creative or can’t contribute in some way.”

This fall, the Grunwald Gallery will be featuring a show in collaboration with the Black Film Center/Archive. It’s called “Rough and Unequal,” featuring Kevin Everson.

The gallery continues to run through grants and donations. Entry is free and open to the public. No profit is made and no art is sold; the intention is to showcase, educate and inspire everyone who walks through the doors.

To find out more about the artists and their featured artwork shown above, view our gallery here.