View of Ray Drew Gallery

Photo by Margaret McKinney/Highlands University

Curvilinear Face, a weaving by world-renowned fiber artist Evelyn Hill Anselevicius, is part of an exhibit of the Highlands University fine art collection in the Ray Drew Gallery. Tall Ventura Pot by Paul Volckening, a leader in the American Studio Pottery Movement and once a longtime fine arts professor at Highlands, is in the foreground.

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University Ray Drew Gallery presents an exhibit of the university’s eclectic fine art collection through Aug. 12.

The Ray Drew Gallery is in the university’s Donnelly Library, 802 National Ave. The gallery is open Monday — Friday 8 a.m. — 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 — 5 p.m.

The university’s fine art collection contains 2,500 pieces, including paintings, ceramics, tapestries, original fine art prints, historic Chinese jade figurines, photographs and more. Many of the art pieces grace the walls and alcoves of Donnelly Library.  

“The exhibit is an invitation to the community to glimpse the diversity of our overall fine art collection,” said Bob Read, the curator for the Ray Drew Gallery and the university’s fine art librarian. “With this exhibit, I tried to show the unique nature of our collection and the artists. The cultural aspects in this art collection tie generations together.” 

Curvilinear Face, a striking 10-by-5-foot weaving by internationally renowned fiber artist Evelyn Hill Anselevicius, draws viewers into the exhibit. She was a Highlands University alumna who exhibited her artwork worldwide and lectured in the U.S., Israel, Mexico and Israel.

“This weaving is a very captivating, powerful and modern image,” Read said.

Some other highlights in the 29-piece exhibit include:

Tall Ventura Potis by Paul Volckening, a nationally known ceramic artist who was a leader in the American Studio Pottery Movement. Volckening was was a long-time fine arts professor at Highlands and lives in Santa Fe.   

A collection of 18th century Chinese artworks from the Qing Dynasty is part of the exhibit. The pieces, such as jade figurines and plates, are rich with symbolic meaning and poetic calligraphy. Donnelly Library associate Ying Meng translated the inscriptions for the exhibit.

Swimming Holeis a watercolor painting by Ray Drew, for whom the university’s art gallery is named. He was an acclaimed painter and longtime fine arts professor at Highlands who was instrumental in creating the Fine Arts Department at the university in the 1950s.

Overlooking the exhibit is Jack in the Garden, a large-scale painting in the pointillism style by Elmer Schooley. The nationally known painter was a longtime Highlands University fine arts professor until his retirement in 1977. Schooley’s color lithograph, Painters, is also part of the exhibit.  

The Highlands University art collection dates back to the late 1890s. Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, the university’s first president and a prominent archaeologist, started the collection.

Read said that over the years, the university has built its fine art collection through generous donations from artists and art collectors.  

One exceptional donor is Dr. Robert Bell, who is also a printmaker and author. Since 2001, he has donated more than 2,000 original fine art prints from his personal collection to Highlands University. The prints range from contemporary Northern New Mexico printmakers to masters such as Rembrandt, Renoir, Goya and Picasso.

Recently, renowned Santa Fe painter and collector Eli Levin donated 80 works of art to the university’s fine art collection. The Ray Drew Gallery exhibit includes a portrait oil painting of Levin by the celebrated satirical painter Robert Cenedella.