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October 2016

Arts District Celebration

Santa Clara University Holds Community Day Celebration for the Official Opening of the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building and the Launch of the Arts District

Excitement stirs around SCU's community celebration for the opening of the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building and the launch of the SCU Arts District

Santa Clara, Calif., October 10, 2016--Santa Clara University is celebrating the arts in a big way this year with a community celebration on Oct. 22 marking the official opening of the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building.

“We are so excited to welcome guests to join us in celebrating a new era for the arts at Santa Clara University,” said Debbie Tahmassebi, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The opening of the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building and the resulting creation of an SCU Arts District make obvious our commitment to arts education and collaborations with our community arts partners to realize an arts neighborhood.”  

On Saturday, Oct. 22 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on the Franklin Street Promenade (Franklin Street at Alviso), the College of Arts and Sciences will host a community celebration open to the public highlighting the building opening. This event will officially launch the designation of Santa Clara University’s Arts District on campus supporting programs in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, digital filmmaking, literary arts, and the de Saisset Museum.

The highlight of the day is the public opening of the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building where visitors will be greeted by the breathtaking Dale Chihuly sculpture Persian and Horn Chandelier hanging in the foyer; a 15-minute presentation by Art Historian Kate Morris: “Chihuly’s Glass Menagerie” will provide context on  Chihuly and his work. Visitors are encouraged to take self-guided tours of the building and enjoy an exterior sculpture garden located adjacent to the building.

“What the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building does for us is it raises visibility for the arts on campus, and it lets students know that the study of art and the study of art history is central to the education they’ll receive at Santa Clara University,” said Kathy Aoki, chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

The building is part of a major redesign of the northwest side of SCU’s campus into a vibrant arts-focused district, and will serve as the signature structure of the University’s north entrance. Located near the University’s Louis B. Mayer Theatre, Fess Parker Studio Theatre, and Music and Dance Building, the new building now anchors an area rich in creative expression. 

Attendees of the community day celebration will be able to freely explore the Arts District and enjoy a festival-like atmosphere with performances and demonstrations by faculty and various student groups and hands-on activities for all ages.

The de Saisset Museum will be open so visitors can view current exhibits including Bruce Beasley Recent Work: Coriolis and Torqueri and Crossing Cultures: Belle Yang, a Story of Immigration. The de Saisset will also be hosting a hands-on “Crochet Jam” with artist Ramekon O'Arwisters, and a performance by Native American dancers Amah-ka-tura.

The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building was made possible by a foundational gift of $12 million from real estate investor and financier Ed Dowd, a 1972 Santa Clara University graduate and owner of EMD Properties, Inc., SF. Dowd, who has a passion for collecting and sharing art that he feels has an ability to heal, unify, and transcend, previously funded a public-art project at the Mountain View campus of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. In 1993 Dowd was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a diagnosis he considers “one of the best things that ever happened to him” as it helped broaden his life’s focus. The necessity to trust more of his business to others offered the opportunity for Dowd to develop a love of art and a passion for philanthropy.

“It is gratifying to see this building come to fruition, a place where art will be created, studied, taught, and shared,” said Dowd. “Art has played a powerful role in my life, and I am very pleased that this building will bring such important experiences to so many.”

The 46,416-square-foot structure features three floors designed to support the creation of art in the 21st century. The building boasts instructional studios for ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and painting, a dark room, a dedicated photo lighting studio, seven new classrooms (including two art history classrooms and two computer labs), a gallery, and an exterior sculpture garden.

The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building was designed and built to encourage greater engagement with the broader arts community, within Silicon Valley and beyond. A visiting artists studio allows the University to host artists from throughout the country for a quarter of a year. Visiting artists will create their work in the new facilities and then exhibit it in the 1,600-square-foot gallery. This gallery will also serve as a venue to host lectures and symposia, as well as innovative art installations. In addition to the temporary exhibitions on display in the gallery, the building will also boast permanent works, including the hanging glass installation by Dale Chihuly in the entrance foyer and additional public art in the exterior sculpture garden.

Santa Clara University looks forward to using these new facilities to expand their existing artistic partnerships with local institutions, including a program that allows for students to intern at local arts organizations and summer arts courses for students from local high schools.

The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building was designed by Form4 Architecture led by its Design Principal John Marx and constructed by Devcon Construction.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

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