Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts

By Manuela Gabaldon

May/June 09.

The arts are in a constant struggle for survival in today’s educational system. As supporters of the arts we should be as concerned with every art form’s existence in our educational institutions as we are with the economy’s effect on art as an industry. Glass art education has been excluded from many art programs throughout the nation.

Students around the country should have the opportunity to explore their artistic abilities and use this classic means of expression throughout their formative years. University of Miami alumni and longtime benefactors Myrna and Sheldon Palley are active supporters of such a cause. Having recently established the Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts with the donation of their 30 year $3.5 million glass art collection in 2008, Myrna and Sheldon Palley are not only undeniable patrons of the arts but firm believers in educational development.

The Palley’s contributed an additional $1.7 million for the construction of the pavilion built especially to house masterpieces from their collection by artists such as Dale Chihuily, Jose Chardiet, Michael Glancy, Harvey Littleton, and William Carlson, currently an endowed professor at the university. The new 3,500 square feet Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts, designed by Coral Gables architect Roney Mateu, is as breathtaking as the art it holds. Artist and professor William Carlson has graced the entrance of the pavilion with two incredible pieces, giving visitors an experience from the start.

I recently visited the Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts and had the pleasure of experiencing the space with Myrna Palley, herself. Anything but a faceless benefactor, Palley guided me through each and every one of her pieces, educating me in the technique, concept, and feeling behind studio glass. Palley spoke of the pieces with excitement and a genuine admiration for what the artists had created. Her passion for glass art and this specific project’s proximity to her heart was obvious as she drifted between eloquent descriptions and funny anecdotal stories of her acquisitions. Palley also spoke of the importance of having the pavilion at The University Of Miami’s campus as a resource for students of her Alma Mater, stressing what an asset studio glass education will be to the university’s Art and Art History Department.

The Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts will be used for exhibitions, programming, research and teaching. Myrna and Sheldon Palley are constantly thinking of new projects for students – new speakers, new workshops, new guidance, and new inspiration. Holding conferences by renowned artists and accepting donations from other collectors is only one of the many ways in which the Palley’s stay involved.

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