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Renowned artist Stephen Antonakos is meeting with students and attending public events this week as Lafayette’s 2003-04 Grossman Visiting Artist.

This afternoon, he will join the Seminar in Art History class taught by Robert Mattison, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art. He will speak Thursday with Lafayette art classes and Phillipsburg high school students participating in the art department’s Community-Based Teaching Program at the Williams Visual Arts Building’s Grossman Gallery

He also will give a public lecture 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Williams Center for the Arts lecture room 108, and attend a reception simultaneously held in all three galleries 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday. A shuttle bus will be available for the reception.

Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts and Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Galleries and the MCS Gallery in downtown Easton are featuring Stephen Antonakos, Three Spaces/Four Directions, an exhibition spanning three Easton galleries and four themes that run through the New York sculptor’s body of work. The joint exhibit began Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Antonakos joins a distinguished group of annual Grossman Visiting Artists at Lafayette who have represented the highest standard of American contemporary art since 1992. The Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Artist-in-Residence and Exhibition Series was established by Richard Grossman ’64 and his wife Rissa to provide opportunities for intensive interaction between students and major artists. The series also supports presentation of significant exhibitions. Previous Grossman artists include Ursula von Rydingsvard, Frank Stella, Ann Hamilton, Gregory Gillespie, Faith Ringgold, Sam Gilliam, and Elizabeth Murray.

“Antonakos has the distinct ability to use light as both line and form,” says sculptor Jim Toia, director of the Grossman Gallery and former assistant to the artist. “The color itself takes on physical presence, both by determining space and negating it at times. That phenomenon allows him to occupy a very unique place in the world of contemporary art. His approach spans numerous decades and movements of art of the second half of the 20th century, addressing issues of minimalism, pop art, and the spiritual in art.”

Senior art majors Jena Newman, Elizabeth King, Jeb Madigan, and Kelly Russell observed Antonakos as he installed his art at the Grossman Gallery in February and provided assistance. Art honors student candidates and studio art EXCEL Scholars shared lunch with Antonakos during his February visit and discussed his work.

Newman and King joined with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp ’36 Professor of Art and director of the Williams Visual Arts Building, and Anthony Crisafulli, associate professor of digital media at Albright College, to produce In the Studio with Stephen Antonakos, a DVD that serves as the exhibition catalog. About 40 minutes long, it was created through interviews with the artist on campus and his New York studio. It will be made available to libraries, colleges, and museums as an educational tool.

Three Spaces/Four Directions features his signature neon works in the form of neon panels at MCS Gallery; vellum drawings, chapel models, and neon panels at Williams Center for the Arts Gallery; and a site-specific neon installation at the Grossman Gallery.

This marks the first time that Lafayette has brought a Grossman artist’s work beyond the campus and into the collaborative setting of a commercial gallery in downtown Easton.

“There is a tremendously rich history of painting in our community,” says Kerns. “Painters of light have employed the Delaware River’s majesty for centuries. It is a great opportunity that now, as a shared community, we will embrace Stephen Antonakos’ work on such a broad scale. No doubt this endeavor will further build on a strong arts foundation to create an even stronger community.”

This collaboration plays to the strengths and characteristics of each of the three galleries. Antonakos has written that each of his works should relate to the architecture and space surrounding it, and the distance and angle of the viewer from the work create complex and changing experiences. In the Williams Visual Arts building, the installation will incorporate some of the unique architectural features of the Grossman Gallery. The Williams Center Gallery, an intimate space, is well suited to host chapel models, which are designed as simple, small buildings where a person can find quiet time to be alone, places where the “visual and spatial elements offer harmony between the inner and outer worlds.”

Antonakos’ art has been recognized internationally for over three decades, appearing in solo exhibitions in Italy, Germany, France, Greece, Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden, as well as throughout the United States. His permanent installations can be found in Israel, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and many U.S. locations.

Born in Greece, Antonakos’ family emigrated to New York when he was a young boy. He studied art at Brooklyn Community College after serving in the Pacific during World War II.

Through the 1950s he worked with found objects, in collage and assemblages, and in the early 1960s he introduced neon into his work, which has remained his primary medium. In 2003 he wrote, “The intensity, the color, and the flexibility of neon was just what I was wanting to find.I am still discovering how neon relates to space and how the colors can work singly and together.”

The artist uses neon in his large public art works; small wall panels where the tubes are hidden behind the face of the panel, creating a mysterious “halo” of color; his meditative “Rooms”; and chapel buildings.

Three Spaces/Four Directions is on display at:
Williams Center for the Arts Gallery, Hamilton and High Streets, Feb. 10-March 12. Gallery hours are Monday, 12-5 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10-5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2-5 p.m. Contact:, (610) 330-5361.

Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery, 243 North 3rd Street, Feb. 10-March 27. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Contact:, (610) 330-5828.

MCS Gallery, 1110 Northampton Street, Feb. 10-March 6. Contact:, (610) 253-2332 x236.

The Williams Center Gallery is funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The 23,500-square-foot Williams Visual Arts Building is one of the leading high-tech facilities for art education and exhibitions in the nation. It includes sculpture and painting studios, a community-based teaching studio, the Grossman Gallery, a flexible studio area with movable walls for honors and independent study students, a seminar room, a conference room, and faculty studios and offices.

The building is home to the studio art program. The classrooms are adjacent to professors’ personal studios, encouraging the free exchange of ideas between students and faculty. Honors students, faculty, and visiting professional artists work together with area high school and adult art students through the Community-Based Teaching Program, which is led by sculptor Jim Toia, who also directs the Grossman Gallery.

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