Cleve Carney Gallery expansion approved ahead of Frida Kahlo 2020 exhibition.


Alison Pfaff

A replica of one of Frida Kahlo’s iconic dresses, made by COD Fashion Studies Students.

Tessa Morton, Editor-in-Chief

A year after the College of DuPage (COD) Board of Trustees approved the hosting of a Frida Kahlo art exhibition in 2020, the board approved expansions and security measures last week that will ensure the Cleve Carney Gallery is up to the task of hosting such a significant event.

At the Jan. 17 Board of Trustees meeting, Diana Martinez, the director of the McAninch Arts Center, presented her proposal for renovations that would extend to the Cleve Carney Gallery. The Frida Kahlo exhibit would bring paintings collectively worth over $100 million. Base security requirements were necessary to protect the art and bring the Cleve Carney Gallery up to museum level security standards. Beyond these initial security standards, Martinez proposed also expanding the physical gallery space. More space would not only allow for a better-quality Kahlo exhibition but also increase the possibility the gallery would host similar high-value exhibitions in the future.

Martinez proposed two options for the expansion.

The first option, the northern expansion, would enlarge the gallery into the northerly courtyard at a cost of $1.9 million. The second option would expand the gallery into the existing art center lobby at a cost of $307,000. Martinez argued, although the second option was significantly less expensive, it would encroach on heavily trafficked lobby space and would result in a less seamless gallery rather than a larger gallery designed for long term use. Martinez advocated for approval of the northern expansion and suggested it was a long term solution that would benefit the school in a number of ways.

The Frida Kahlo exhibition is likely to bring national attention to COD and has already attracted partners who have committed donations and promotional support.

“College of DuPage will be on a national stage with critical press,” said Martinez. “ We can lead in the growing cultural landscape in DuPage County.”

Martinez said this investment had “the potential for pay off in notoriety and increased enrolment.”

The increased space would also allow for more per hourly visitors to major exhibitions, which would increase revenue for the gallery.

Charles Boone, dean of Arts, Communication, and Hospitality at COD, agreed with this proposal and believed it would bring further educational benefits to students.

“This really isn’t about profit and loss, this is about what we are doing for students in the community,” Boone said. “[Expanding the gallery] allows us to expand the scale of student exhibitions, student competitions and faculty shows. It allows for more substantial shows to pass through the gallery.

“There is a long standing impact of having a gallery expansion,” he continued. “We should treat it as a capital asset rather than an expense.”

The board unanimously voted to approve the more expensive northern expansion for the gallery. Vice Chairman Frank Napolitano supported the option, despite initially voting against bringing the Kahlo exhibit to the school last year, citing concerns about the costs. Chairman Deanne Mazzochi agreed with Martinez, however, and believes the capital expenditure will yield future dividends.

In other action, the board approved a contract with a firm to conduct a search for former COD President Ann Rondeau’s replacement. A contract was approved with AGB Search at a cost of no more than $97,500. Brian Caputo was named Interim President at the beginning of 2019 and will serve in this capacity until a new president is appointed.