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Newcomb Art Unwraps Holiday

December 6, 2002

Carol J. Schlueter

cjs@tulane.edu

Gene Koss knows what the holiday spirit is all about. He revels in it every year in early December when the annual Holiday Art Sale takes place at Newcomb College. Every glass itemball, platter or vasesold at the two-day event brings dollars directly into the glass program that Koss leads in the Newcomb Art Department. For more than 20 years, the holiday sale has been a showcase, a teaching ground and a fund raiser for Newcomb's glass studio.

"It really is important to us," says Koss, professor of art and renowned glass artist who always puts some of his own signed pieces in the sale. "The money we make goes to repair of equipment, furnace liners, everything. We give 100 percent back to the studio. It's essential."

This year's sale will be held in the art department's Carroll Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 5 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 6. Beautiful (and affordable) handmade glass balls of many colors, sizes and patterns often are the stars of the annual art sale, much anticipated by the greater New Orleans community. But this year's sale also includes a variety of other art such as ceramics, printmaking, painting and sculpture in a wide range of prices, says Stacy La Fleur, senior program coordinator for the Newcomb Art Gallery.

Work by students, alumni and faculty will be featured. All proceeds from sales of glass art by Koss and his students will benefit the glass program. Proceeds from the sale of other items, after expenses, will benefit Newcomb programs. Among the Newcomb art alums providing artwork for the sale will be Frances Swigart-Steg, printmaker; Joann Greenberg, ceramist; Peggy Goode, watercolors, drawings and paintings; and Karen Edmunds, printmaker.

Adjunct art professor Terri Davis will have paintings for sale. In addition, Swigart-Steg will include some works by her late husband and art department faculty member, printmaker Jim Steg. Architecture alumnus and designer Mario Villa also will have prints in the sale, LaFleur said.

"We will have a lot of printmakers involved this year and I'm excited about their work," La Fleur says.

And work by student artists is an important element in the show and sale. Ten of Koss' glass students volunteered to help produce glass art this year. Other students will display work in ceramics, printmaking and photography. Koss sees the holiday sale as a great learning opportunity for his glass students.

"I don't pressure anyone to make things," he says, "but it's a good teaching aid. It teaches students that to survive as a visual artist, they have to have something to pay the bills. When you run your own studio you learn how to survive. Students who really go on and make a name for themselves realize the importance of this."

He says the art department is "really blessed" to have the support of people in the Tulane and New Orleans community, who usually turn out in large numbers to take advantage of the art sale. "It's a great glass studio but you have to stay on top of it," Koss says. "It's costly to run a high-tech lab and we don't really have an equipment budget. I can tell you this money [from the sale] is used wisely." In the holiday spirit, Koss also acknowledges that the sale isn't just about the money: "It also gets people to come into the gallery and it brings the community together."

Carol Schlueter can be reached at cjs@tulane.edu.

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