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March 21, 2005

Exhibit of early years at Cowell College includes photos, memorabilia

By Scott Rappaport

Cowell College opened in the fall of 1965 as a “challenging and imaginative experiment” undertaken by 650 students and 40 faculty members.

Photo of students

This photo of two students, both from San Francisco, is among those displayed as part of the Cowell College exhibit. Gil Null was a junior at the time, and Pam Cain, a freshman.
Photo: Vester Dick

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the college will present an exhibition titled Reminiscing: Cowell College, The Early Years, focusing on historical highlights from 1965 to 1975. The exhibit runs from April 16 to May 29 at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery.

“I think what most people don’t realize is that the history of Cowell and the early years of the university are one and the same,” noted Linda Pope, curator of the gallery and the exhibit. “Cowell was the only college in existence when UCSC was founded in 1965.”

Pope said the exhibit will feature long-forgotten and little-known memorabilia and artwork--including a large flowered, psychedelic Andy Warhol rug that graced the provost’s house until as late as the early 1990s. She added that the walls of the gallery will be covered with black-and-white photographs, letters, documents, and quotations illustrating the history of Cowell.

“I’m trying to come up with something different—things that haven’t been seen before,” said Pope. “I hope to use some very unusual early shots by Ansel Adams, an early protest poster, and some works by artists from the Cowell Press. The exhibit will show the clothing of the period and the feel of the times.”

Adding to the historical atmosphere, a mix tape of music from the era will play in the background. Visitors will also be able to watch Super 8 films made by former students of the actual construction of Cowell College in the 1960s. Additional footage will include an interview with the late art history professor Mary Holmes about the early days of Cowell, and founding provost Page Smith being interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes about the subject of education.

The adjoining Annex Gallery will also feature a display of watercolors by Cowell icon Jasper Rose, the innovative art professor and second provost of the college who now resides in England.

“I think it’s going to be a fun exhibition and a great showcase of previously inaccessible items that Linda had to dig up,” said Tyrus Miller, newly appointed in January as joint provost of Cowell with his wife, Deanna Shemek. “It’s a chance for people to experience the strong sense of community, personality, and tradition at Cowell that goes back many years.”

Alumni visiting the campus during the Banana Slug Spring Fair weekend will have an opportunity to meet the new provosts during a special April 16 reception in the gallery between 4 and 6 p.m. The opening reception for the exhibit--featuring live music and refreshments--begins earlier that same day at 2 p.m. For more information, contact the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at (831) 459–2953.


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