The Lux uses grant to celebrate founder, anniversary

Thanks to a Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation grant, the Lux Center for the Arts is adding a new piece to honor its founder, Gladys Lux.
Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 5:21 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Soon, paintings, pottery and prints won’t be the only pieces on display at the Lux Center for the Arts. Thanks to a Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation grant, the center is adding a new piece to honor its founder, Gladys Lux.

The center was built in honor of the Nebraska Wesleyan professor in 1977, and now, they are celebrating 45 years of encouraging creativity.

“We want to honor Gladys in our 45th anniversary with a retrospective of her work,” said Joe Shaw, the executive director at The Lux. “She was a talented painter, printmaker, and that will be in the fall. And we’re really looking forward to that, but we’re also looking forward to creating a space at The Lux that specifically honors Gladys, and that’s what the grant was for.”

Gladys taught art classes as far back as the 1920s. She acquired a vast print collection with the intention of introducing students to art from around the world. The Lux plans to arrange her prints on a display with the $1,000 grant.

“She knew that her students at Wesleyan were rural kids that hadn’t had an experience of artwork,” said Susan Soriente, the curator of the Gladys Lux print collection. “She started teaching during the depression when many people were very poor, and most people were unable to travel very far, so the children she had in her classes were students who she felt needed this broadening kind of experience of different artists and their artwork.”

The Lux continues Gladys’s legacy through classes in pottery, printmaking, painting, beadwork, drawing and more. Local, regional and national artists exhibited their work within the Lux galleries. The Lux also holds art therapy classes with places like Centerpointe, St. Elizabeth’s and St. Monica’s medical centers.

Since 2019, the center’s camp participation has grown by seven times in size. The center’s budget has increased from $550,000 to $900,000 within the past three years, due to grant money and donations.

Before becoming director of education at the Lux, Gwendolyn Lopez has seen the center’s progress since she started as an intern.

“It was very small. The ceramics center didn’t exist, so the wing that we have here, one room was for 2D and one room was for clay, and that’s all we had,” Lopez said. “But it’s grown so much, and I feel like our classes have attracted a larger crowd. I feel like more people know about The Lux, what it is, what we do.”

Most of the classes are sold out, but a few positions are open for classes later in the summer. The Gladys Lux wall will be installed this fall and will open shortly after it is completed.

Until then, the Lux Center will continue to help people find the artist inside of them.

“I think the Lux Center very much is a center that Gladys would say offers a variety of experiences for the budding artist and for the person who just wants to see and enjoy art,” Soriente said.

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