Sacramento State and the Crocker Art Museum teamed up for an evening showcasing the University faculty’s talent in theater, dance, music, fine arts, photography and literature. U-Nite – University Night – brought nearly 40 of Sacramento State’s faculty from the College of Arts and Letters together for a one-night-only art celebration Thursday, April 12, at the Museum.
About 1,700 people braved heavy rains and storms to attend the event. Many of them were Sac State students making their first trip to the Crocker.
Live music, dance, theater performances; photography, design, art, film and digital media presentations; and poetry and prose readings were just some of the surprises for the attendees throughout the Museum.
Sac State artists mixed with Crocker exhibits as Professor Lorelei Bayne’s modern dancers twisted their way around Gong Yuebin’s troop of terra cotta warriors, and Professors Claudia Kitka, soprano, and Julian Dixon, tuba player, performed children’s songs and poems among the Old West landscapes of Edgar Payne. Artists and performers filled nearly every room of the Museum.
This collaboration by two regional arts institutions was the brainchild of Sacramento State Professor Elaine Gale, who found quick and strong support from the Crocker Art Museum education staff. “We decided to call it U-Nite because we’re uniting faculty from different departments, and also we’re uniting the Crocker and Sac State – the University and the community – to celebrate who we are,” says Gale.
The evening presented a wide variety of talent. Music Professors Claudia Kitka and Julian Dixon played a duet for tuba and soprano. Professor Andrew Connelly presented “Storm,” a performance art piece outside the Museum that created an artificial cloudburst and people’s reaction to getting drenched. Sacramento State’s recent Grammy nominee, Professor Richard Savino, accompanied professor and soprano Robin Fisher. There were also wandering poets, interactive art pieces, a silk-screening demonstration and musicians placed throughout the museum’s galleries.
U-Nite performers included Sacramento/Black Art of Dance.
Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez and Lial A. Jones, the Mort and Marcy Friedman director of the Crocker Art Museum, commemorated the occasion with welcoming remarks.
“U-Nite gives the public an excellent opportunity to experience Sacramento State’s nationally acclaimed arts programs,” says Gonzalez. “Our talented faculty and students make tremendous contributions to the region’s culture, and the Crocker Art Museum is an ideal setting to showcase their work.”
“The Crocker Art Museum and Sacramento State are both places that inspire creativity, learning and dialogue,” says Crocker Deputy Director Randy Roberts. “We are delighted to partner with the University on this event.”
The event was part of the Crocker’s weekly program series Thursdays ’til 9, which features engaging encounters with art, music, ideas and people.
U-Nite was also the unofficial kickoff to Sacramento State’s Festival of the Arts. The annual salute to all things arts on campus had its official run April 14-21.
“The University has extraordinarily talented faculty, and the Crocker has the most amazing spaces for showcasing faculty art,” Gale says. “We hope this will become an annual event.”
– Craig Koscho