Brandywine Art Guide: 101 artists at Baker Gallery

More than just funding artists, galleries, and exhibitions, art patrons create community, share their favorite artists with others, and support up-and-coming artists. Art collections take on their own life, combining themes and subjects and mediums in unexpected ways.

The new exhibition at the Baker Gallery at West Chester University, 101 Artists: Selections from the Fred Danziger Collection of Contemporary Art, takes a unique approach to designing an exhibition to showcase the transcendent themes of art.

People at Work

The title is a bit misleading — there are 164 pieces of art in the exhibition, each by a different contemporary artist. “The artists in the collection almost all have a connection to the region,” said Fred Danziger, a painter himself who has been collecting these pieces for decades. “Although they live in over 20 states, most of them attended schools here or lived here for some time,” he said.

Including all these artworks created a challenge in terms of presentation. When Danziger brought the collection to the gallery, curator Andrew Snyder and two of his West Chester University students came up with a “theme-based” hanging scheme.

“I tend to see the collection, piece by piece, but they saw it as a kind of totality,” said Danziger. “For example, the idea of ‘People at Work,’ combining the painting by Ron Washington (done in the past few years) and the lithograph by Julian Levi (one of my teachers while studying at PAFA) of dockworkers done for the WPA in 1937, work so well together.”

By Jeanine Leclaire

The themes for the groupings range from subject to style to feel. “The abstractions by Jimmy Leuders and his student Lloyd Beatty hung side by side show a teacher-student connection,” said Danziger. “The grouping of portraits shows a beautiful continuity in, what I consider one of the three great, transcendent themes of art (figurative work and work from pure nature are the others.)”

It is fascinating to see the groupings of artworks, which forces your eye to take it in as a whole before focusing on individual pieces. It is a different take on a gallery wall, with a variety of sizes, frames, and mediums adding to the overall effect.

As Danziger noted, “Art is not just ‘one thing’ but many—the styles, psychology, philosophies, and aesthetics are hugely varied in this collection.”

Danziger takes art collecting seriously, a passion that is clear in this exhibit.

By Julie Webb

He said, from a living artist, you get…something you want to have in your home environment,” he said, and it is also “a huge personal boost to the artist. Your purchase says to that artist —’ someone cares about what I’m doing.’”

It also speaks to the personal values of the collector, he said, that “you want to live in a society where art is valued. Without that sense of valuation, there would be no art galleries, art schools, and, in the end, a society bereft of creativity.”

More than just the number of artworks on display, this exhibit is about the community of artists in the Brandywine region.

“What I love about the regional art community is actually that it is a community,” said Danziger. “There is a huge mutually supportive network of artists, who attended regional schools, who work in plein air events in the region, and who show at galleries in the area.”

He added that collecting art can be personally fun and rewarding.

By Jenny Kanzler

“The one thing that unites it is what Kandinsky called the ‘art of internal necessity,’” that drive to add beauty to our spaces, our environment, our bodies. “Each piece is one which I feel the artist had a deep personal connection to,” Danziger said, and by sharing this extensive collection, he hopes visitors will find a piece that speaks to them as well.

101 Artists: Selections from the Fred Danziger Collection of Contemporary Art is on view until April 4 at the John H. Baker Gallery in the E. O. Bull Center for the Arts, located at 2 E. Rosedale Avenue, West Chester. For more information, check out and on Instagram @artsatwcu.

About Victoria Rose

Victoria Rose (she/her) is an editor, writer, avid reader, self-described geek, and fan of all things creative. Her passion for words has led to her current career as a freelance editor, and she is the owner of Flickering Words, an editing service. When not wielding a red pen (or cursor), she loves reading books of all genres, playing video, board, and word games, baking ridiculous creations to show off on the internet, or enjoying the gorgeous outdoors. She is a board member of the West Chester Film Festival and part of the Thirsty Monsters, a team of streamers from around the world who fundraise for various charities supporting LGBTQIA+ and accessibility rights. She can be found online @WordsFlickering or the Brandywine Art Guide @BrandywineArtGuide.


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