The Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, for many, goes underlooked. Most students who walk out of the LLC see it and pass it every single day, whether it’s on the way to class, the student center or the dining commons.
Thorne holds a variety of paintings, pictures and video exhibits, created by a couple of well thought-out artists that range from around the world.
One of the more prominent artists, Andy Warhol, left 20,000 photographs behind when he passed away. His studio donated his works to various universities and colleges such as Keene State, which received 150 of those unique works.
Mark Hogancamp also told a realistic fictional story that reflected his pain at the time in his career through in depth photos taken of dolls and action figures like they were people in a comic book or movie.
The director of the gallery, Brian Wallace, gave a tour focusing on many of the works that the two artists have. Wallace mentioned, that the gallery was first opened 52 years ago, and it has been in Thorne-Sagendorph since 1991. The first thing he wanted people to know about the gallery is: “That you will see something you have never seen before, and [I] guarantee it. We try to make it a welcoming place.”
When asked about the newest and oldest pieces in the gallery, he pointed across the room at a structure connected to the wall, with a video being projected onto it. He simply said, “It’s called ‘US’ from 2018, and it was made this year during the summer. [The artist was] trying to make these evocative shapes.”
When thinking about the oldest piece, Wallace said that the oldest piece in the permanent collection is in storage, but it is a vase from ancient Greece. “It was donated to the Thorne about thirty years ago by a collector, and we think that it’s genuine, but until we can have a scholar of Greek vases come and look at it, I don’t wanna put it on display as the real thing. I just want to be cautious and make sure we have all of the facts right about where it’s from exactly.”
Wallace’s personal favorite is a piece by an artist from Switzerland named Pipilotti Rist. The artwork is called ‘Ever is Over All’ and Wallace says, “…it’s really beautiful and disturbing at the same time.” . Wallace said his duties include: “Working with students, we have a lot of student workers who do various important things at the Thorne. We have students who help out with the education programs, and one with social media and lastly some students who do research into certain artist.”He elaborated, saying they find artists to be represented with“…hard work and a lot of time looking at art in person, magazine[s], book[s], and online. [You spend] a lot of time reading about and talking art with other curators and directors.”
During the interview, there were guestsvisting the gallery. An alumni and staff member Shawna Perrin said her favorite piece in the gallery was a film that was shown inside, called “For Those Who Like To Rock”, made in 1997. Perrin said her favorite piece of art in general is Van Gogh’s “Starry night”.
When asked whether or not she visits art galleries, she said: “Not as often as I would like to, but sometimes I visit the art gallery in Portland — I visit once or twice a year.” Perrin said she thinks art galleries should exist as “… a way of seeing things through other people’s eyes, and that’s a big part of liberal arts education and learning through other people’s experiences. Art is a visceral way of doing that.”
Rebecca Putnam is a student worker for the art gallery. When asked about her favorite pieces, Putnam said: “I like the Andy Warhol pieces. I like how Keene has their pieces in their collection.” Putnam said that she doesn’t make visiting galleries a priority: “If I’m visiting a place that has galleries, I’ll check it out, but I won’t scout out places in my free time.”
One of Brian Wallace’s favorite stories involving the gallery is: “I met an artist a couple of years ago, who has a painting in our permanent collection. He hadn’t seen it in close to 40 years because that’s when it was donated… So to make a long story short, he came to Throne to see the painting, and he walked in, we chatted for a bit, and then went to look at the painting itself. The really weird thing was the sweater he was wearing was a perfect match for the main color of the painting. It was just a really amazing, freaky coincidence.”
The art gallery, according to Brian Wallace, is free admission. He added that “almost every event we put on is free.” Wallace’s closing comment was clearing up a misconception about the gallery: “I think students don’t know that it can be for them [as well]”.
Joe Guzman can be contacted at