John Loscuito, FGCU Gallery Direc­tor

He wants us to ap­pre­ci­ate art­work, dis­cov­er­ing happy sur­prises

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY PAULA MICHELE BOLADO

As direc­tor for Florida Gulf Coast Uni­ver­sity’s Was­mer Art Gallery and ArtLab Gallery, John Loscuito knows the com­plex­i­ties and nu­ances of art­work―form, com­po­si­tion, in­ten­tion and medium―his in­stincts struc­tur­ing ex­hibits that en­cour­age gallery view­ers of ev­ery back­ground to ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand what they’re see­ing in the ex­hibit.

But he also knows how to get the most from the artists. “There’s a lot of great work be­ing made out there … and it’s a two-way street,” he says. “We want them [artists] to en­gage with stu­dents, faculty and the pub­lic, so they have to have qual­ity work and qual­ity per­son­al­i­ties.”

Loscuito (said Lo-shoo-tow) will plan gallery show­ings a year

IT’S IM­POR­TANT AS A CU­RA­TOR TO HAVE THAT LEVEL AND BREADTH OF EN­GAGE­MENT SO THAT YOU CAN UN­DER­STAND WHAT THE GOOD FIT IS BE­TWEEN YOU AND THE ARTIST.”

—JOHN LOSCUITO

out, in­cor­po­rat­ing lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional artists. Each year he’ll em­bark on stu­dio visits to meet artists and view their ex­hi­bi­tions. Per­sonal con­tact is crit­i­cal, not only to as­sess the qual­ity of the work, but to as­sess the abil­ity of the artist “to en­gage with … stu­dents, the faculty and the com­mu­nity,” he says. He’s tapped the Rauschen­berg Res­i­dency pro­gram, for ex­am­ple, seek­ing artists vis­it­ing the famed mod­ernist Robert Rauschen­berg’s house on Cap­tiva. The pro­gram hosted by the Robert Rauschen­berg Foun­da­tion brings to­gether some of the world’s best and most in­no­va­tive artists, writ­ers, dancers and film­mak­ers. “We are re­ally open to pos­si­bil­i­ties,” he adds.

Dur­ing a trip to Tal­la­has­see with FGCU gallery co­or­di­na­tor Anica Stur­di­vant about a year ago, for ex­am­ple, the pair made five stu­dio visits. “Go­ing up there,” Loscuito says, “I an­tic­i­pated there would be a cou­ple of artists that would be a good fit for us. But we ended up see­ing the work of [ce­ramic sculp­tor] Bar­bara Balzer, by chance, at one of the gal­leries we were go­ing to see a dif­fer­ent artist. That was a happy sur­prise. [Fab­ric/ pa­per artist] Linda Hall was some­one that we did an­tic­i­pate that we would en­joy her work, and then we found out that Bar­bara and Linda knew each other but had never shown to­gether ... but al­ways wanted to.”

This is an­other way in which Loscuito finds artists— serendip­i­tously. “I try to stay open to what might hap­pen,” he says. “It’s rare my pre­con­ceived no­tions ac­tu­ally pan out. I might have some ideas, like it would be great if we did this, this or this, but it will turn out that

their work doesn’t look as good in per­son, they’re re­ally dif­fi­cult to work with, they’re just not a good fit, or what­ever the case it is, it just wasn’t what I ex­pected. But then some­thing usu­ally comes about.

“Those com­par­a­tive mo­ments where you spend a few days meet­ing with dif­fer­ent artists, some feel so much bet­ter than oth­ers: their stu­dio prac­tice, how they en­gage with you, their con­tent, all of it is like night and day. It’s im­por­tant as a cu­ra­tor to have that level and breadth of en­gage­ment so that you can un­der­stand what the good fit is be­tween you and the artist you are see­ing.”

FGCU’s ArtLab Gallery be­gan in the li­brary about 20 years ago; 10 years ago the sub­se­quent main gallery was con­structed due to the in­creased en­roll­ment in the art depart­ment. Loscuito ar­rived with un­der­grad/grad de­grees in fine arts and a grad­u­ate de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, along with seven years as the reg­is­trar and col­lec­tions man­ager for the Hag­gerty Mu­seum of Art at Mar­quette Uni­ver­sity in Mil­wau­kee. When he looked for direc­tor’s po­si­tions na­tion­wide, he was scooped up by FGCU―so he and his wife, Ni­cole D’Amico, a ce­ramic artist, moved from the snowy win­ters of Wis­con­sin to the sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate of South­west Florida. “We want work that is a process of cre­ation, some­times new work, work that’s made for FGCU art gal­leries, or in re­la­tion to an­other artist they are show­ing with,” Loscuito says.

FGCU ex­hi­bi­tion de­tails are at art­gallery.fgcu.edu.

PER­SONAL CON­TACT IS CRIT­I­CAL, NOT ONLY TO AS­SESS THE QUAL­ITY OF THE WORK, BUT TO AS­SESS THE ABIL­ITY OF THE ARTIST.

Free­lance writer Paula Michele Bolado is a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia and is a pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tor in South­west Florida.

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John Loscuito Bar­bara Balzer’s TheThree­GracesCon­tinue TheirSearch­forMirth (pic­tured) is part of a Was­mer Art Gallery ex­hibit open­ing Oct. 12. 27 x 41 x 8

Ac­cu­mu­lat­ingIn­te­ri­ors: Tyan­naBuie­andVanes­saDiaz col­lab­o­ra­tion was fea­tured at FGCU in 2016.

Linda Hall, Some­times­the EarthisSky, 2017, fab­ric, fiber fill, glass and paint. 3x6x1

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