By Zach Sweat, Staff Reporter
When a number of organizations looking to exhibit their traveling art shows approached UNF’s Intercultural Center for PEACE in 2004, the school had no space to put up the exhibits.
To solve the problem, Vice President Mauricio Gonzalez decided that it would be appropriate for the school’s new student union to have a cultural gallery.
After a generous contribution from Doctors Robert and Anne Lufrano, construction began and the Lufrano Intercultural Gallery was born.
Kamele Oupa Seane, the director of the gallery, said that he hopes the gallery will play an important role in educating and enlightening UNF students, faculty, staff and the Jacksonville community.
“This is a way of educating students outside the class,” Seane said. “It gives them a unique learning experience.”
The Lufrano Intercultural Gallery had its first art exhibition since a recent expansion and update September 7, featuring a collection of various paintings by artist Jerry Domask.
Domask is a Jacksonville based artist who was educated in both Wisconsin and Florida, even attending UNF during recent years.
Spending half of his career as a US Army Officer, Domask served in various places including the Vietnam War as an advisor during the TET Offensive.
After 20 years of service, retirement has allowed Domask to return full time to his roots and his love of art.
The retired Army Officer said UNF’s Art and Design Department, particularly Professor Louise Freshman Brown, has nurtured his love for art over the past four years. Domask estimates he has already accumulated 36 hours of classes at UNF.
“Four years ago I wanted to get back to my roots and I started taking classes here at UNF,” Domask said. “In fact, I now look at UNF as my family.”
His collection, titled Reflections, is a series of paintings reflecting on the Vietnam War 45 years later and is intended to illustrate the harsh truths about war.
Domask said his work was influenced heavily by his own personal observations, shared conversations with brothers-in-arms, and a book titled Prisoner that was written by Major Ted Gostas who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam.
“It’s part of the education process and fulfilling the scope of the outreach for cultural and social issues here at the Lufrano Gallery,” Domask said.
On the Friday evening opening, the gallery was packed with a wide array of people who had come to see the exhibition.
UNF faculty, staff, and students accompanied veterans and people from the surrounding community, filling the second floor of the student union.
The crowd slowly circled the Lufrano Gallery admiring and reflecting on the dark and powerful works of Domask’s Reflections.
Students attending the exhibition took time to reflect on the gallery and its first paintings, describing the impressive number of attendees and the powerful pictures they saw.
“The artwork of the gallery is really interesting, it’s about the troops,” said Deidra Hills, a multimedia, journalism and production junior. “You can tell by the pictures it shows the pain and suffering that they go through just to help our country.”
Another UNF student, Kirstie Prater, a graphic design junior, was thrilled with the large turnout at the Gallery’s first show and said the paintings were an excellent depiction of the artist’s emotion.
After the crowd had gotten a chance to see the paintings, Seane, director of the Intercultural Center for PEACE and the Lufrano Gallery, attempted to gather the crowd into the gallery as he thanked all the supporters, benefactors, and attendees for their dedication to the new gallery.
In the future, Seane said that students should expect to see exhibits similar to Reflections. Future exhibits will educate viewers about issues like war, women’s suffrage, slavery, and current social issues such as the Syrian civil war.
The current exhibit is curated by the Department of Art and Design Chair Dr. Debra Murphy and will run until Friday, December 7, 2012.