Alexy Von Schlippe – An Irreplaceable Contribution
by Nancy La Mar Rodgers / Photos by A. Vincent Scarano
As I ascend the great stairwell of the Bradford House at the Avery Point Campus, I am taken back to an era of charmed beauty and attention to impeccable detail. The historical house itself built by Morton Plant is a study of architecture and represents an era of true detailed craftsmanship. Housed on the second floor of this magnificent home is the jewel of the mansion, the Alexy Von Schlippe Gallery.
Von Schlippe was a professor of art at UConn’s Avery Point campus. When he retired and returned to Germany with his family, he left behind a legacy of work; and this work is the reason why, for more than twenty years, the gallery’s curator has labored to keep this man’s work alive. The gallery is not only a dedication to Von Schlippe, but more importantly a space and a means for new and emerging artists to reveal their work to the greater community.
I meet Julia Pavone and David Madacsi outside the tiny office that they share. It is here that Pavone works diligently to raise not only awareness, but also the funds to keep the gallery operating. For both Pavone and Madacsi this has always been a labor of love; and both know the importance of this cultural treasure for not only the local and greater community, but also for the students who call this offshoot of UConn’s main campus their home.
Twenty-four years prior, Pavone and Madacsi found a collection of Von Schlippe’s work stored on campus. Von Schlippe was the first full professor of any discipline on the Avery Point campus; and according to Pavone, he was “a most prolific artist who left behind an incredible collection, and the kind of artist who had to just paint, paint, paint in between classes and whenever he could.”
When Von Schlippe moved back to Germany with his family, he left behind an enormous collection. For Pavone, though, more importantly he left behind his dedication to artists and his commitment to keeping culture and art alive and thriving on the Avery Point campus. “This is what he stood for,” Madacsi states. Pavone and Madacsi knew this. It was what made them roll up their sleeves and turn a crowded storage room into a space that would both honor a most distinguished artist as well as give back to the community a cultural experience that could not be experienced anywhere else on either campus or in Southeastern Connecticut.
Unfortunately, as Chaucer once said, “All good things must come to an end;” and while the gallery has been a tour de force in this community for two decades, the powers that be have decided that this pearl no longer fits into the overall budget. Even though what started out as a dream to make Von Schlippe’s work accessible has now blossomed into a multi-cultural art form that has allowed the citizens of Connecticut to explore one of the art world’s most beloved artists, it is not enough to save this treasure. Even though Pavone has worked tirelessly to bring artists from all over the region, the state, and the world to show their work; and even though the community at large has voiced its support, the powers that be at UConn’s main campus have remained stoic and resigned in closing down this much beloved cherished cultural sensation.
Pavone and Madacsi have worked diligently to increase awareness about the cultural void that will be left at Avery Point, not only for the surrounding community, but for the students that attend UConn’s Avery Point Campus. Pavone points out that “the gallery is one of the first stops on any incoming visiting student’s tour. And the gallery is often a focal point for international collaborations.” The Latin Views Biennial hosted artists from eighteen different countries. As an educational component for many of the areas’ surrounding schools, the Von Schlippe surpasses the expectations of most students; not only do they experience art, but they are immersed in history and a whole different, unknown era.
Though the artist himself is gone from this world, his work and his dedication to the arts and to students of art has remained loyal. The gallery that bears his name will unfortunately no longer be able to maintain its stay in the community…it is a loss that will be felt worldwide.
The final opening reception for the last show is Friday, June 10th. It will feature the works of four prominent Connecticut artists. For more information on the event, please visit the gallery’s website at:
www.averypointarts.uconn.edu or contact the gallery’s curator,
Julia Pavone: firstname.lastname@example.org