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Sweeney Art Gallery Moves Downtown

UCR/Sweeney Art Gallery will open April 1 at the Intersection of University Avenue and Main Street

Spring Exhibit is “People for a Better Tomorrow”

(March 29, 2006)

Image courtesy of Zellner Design Planning Research <br />

Image courtesy of Zellner Design Planning Research

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- On Saturday, April 1, the UCR/Sweeney Art Gallery will officially open its doors in a newly renovated space that places the gallery at the intersection of Main Street and University Avenue in Riverside.

“People for a Better Tomorrow,” from guest curator Meg Cranston, is the first exhibit in the new space, the nearly century-old Walling building that originally served as the headquarters for Riverside’s First National Bank.

“Instead of cash and gold, the gallery will house art exhibits that bring a new kind of valuable resource to downtown Riverside,” said Joel Martin, interim dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “The Sweeney joins the established UCR/California Museum of Photography and the planned Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, providing additional space and energy and creative treasure to UCR and to the Riverside arts community in general.”

A curator’s walkthrough of the first exhibit, which showcases the work of eight dynamic and diverse artists dedicated to idea that art can transform society, is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 1 and the opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. that night.

Jim Isermann, associate professor of art history and a recognized artist in his own right, serves as the faculty director of the Sweeney Art Gallery. “We’re very excited about the gallery’s new location, and especially Peter Zellner’s design,” he said. “It’s high-profile and will help us attract the best art exhibits possible. As well, the location in downtown Riverside puts the gallery in the heart of the Inland Empire, and this increases our ability to reach out to the community well beyond UCR.”

For 43 years, the Sweeney Art Gallery has been offering exhibits on the UCR campus. The move downtown follows a renovation of the former bank into a modern gallery space by architect Peter Zellner, in association with Ontario based firm HMC Architects. Zellner is the founding principal of Zellner/Design Planning Research as well as a faculty member of SCI-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His firm has completed several art galleries in both Los Angeles and New York City.

“What is provocative about the gallery's setting is that it is located within a revitalized historic district tied to one of the fastest growing regions in North America, the Inland Empire,” Zellner said.

“From my perspective, that dynamic is not only unique but it also offers up a real challenge in terms of how we think about the relationship between art, commerce and urban redevelopment. What is so special about the new Sweeney is that its location in relationship to Main Street, Downtown Riverside and the UC Riverside campus blurs the distinctions between urban and suburban conditions. I think that fact alone will make the gallery a compelling place to test the disciplinary boundaries of art and curatorial practice.”

He said that the new Sweeney Art Gallery has the potential to become a model for other communities, as an adaptable, vibrant contemporary arts facility within a historic downtown setting.

“What I am very excited about is the special exhibition zone we created behind the windows along Main Street and University Avenue. These zones will function, in a way, as storefronts in a public corridor -- offering artists the opportunity to create site specific installations that could potentially interact with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. I am really hopeful that this feature will really activate the street corner and give the Sweeney an important profile in the redevelopment of Downtown Riverside.”

UCR/Sweeney Art Gallery is located at 3800 Main Street, on the Downtown Pedestrian Mall in Riverside, California. The gallery is open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. For further information, please call the gallery during its hours of operation at 951-827-3755 or visit us at

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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