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Pictures at an Exhibition
Maurice Burrison, W'32, says than when he first got the idea of mounting an art exhibition on the ground floor of the Faculty Club back in 1978, he got some advice from Fred Shabel, then Penn's vice president for operational services. "He said, 'Don't do it just once,'" recalls Burrison. "'If you start it, keep it up.'"
That was in 1978. By his own count, Burrison, the interior-design and fine-arts consultant for the Department of Facilities Planning, has put together 166
Animated gif Artwork
exhibitions at what is now known as the Burrison Art Gallery. He no longer remembers that first show, but he does remember the second: some thirty-four watercolors by the late Charles Addams, FA'34, Hon'80.
As the modest sampling here indicates, there have been a lot of highlights over the years -- this month, for example, is a father-and-son show featuring the "abstract figurative" paintings of Dr. Samuel Yankell, DH'81, research professor of periodontics, and Stuart Yankell, FA'85, GFA'88 -- and Burrison admits to a few sentimental favorites during his nineteen-year tenure as curator. One was called "Patterns of Creativity," which combined casual illustrations of physics formulas by the late Dr. Henry Primakoff, professor of physics, with the "strange and artistic" musical scores of Dr. George Crumb, the Annenberg Professor of Music.
"Offbeat subjects always appealed to me," says the beady-eyed Burrison. "I'm not interested in just the conventional art shows. The screwiest one I ever did brought me a lot of flack from some members of the faculty. It was a re-creation of a diner put together by students of the Miquon School. They recreated in cardboard an actual full-scale corner of a diner, with stools and a counter and all kinds of artificial food. It was all done in fun, but it took up so much room that some of the faculty who liked to take an afternoon snooze in the lounge got annoyed."
Burrison, whose family had a commercial art gallery in Center City Philadelphia, says he derives an odd kind of satisfaction from displaying "things I couldn't do myself," adding: "I don't know what psychologists call it -- 'transference,' 'sublimation,' or whatever -- but it makes up for my own lack of [artistic ability]. One of the missions I have to this University is to raise the consciousness of people on this campus to the art around them."

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