Davidson is a quaint college town with a thriving Main Street just 30 minutes north of Charlotte. Picture ancient oak lined neighborhoods, and tight-knit core of townies. This place has grown from a sleepy, rural village to an all-American, charming destination.
A Visit to Davidson NC
Part of what gives Davidson so much life is the top-rated liberal arts college that shares its name. Davidson College is perhaps best known as the institution that produced NBA star Stephen Curry, and is also known in academic circles as the “Harvard of the South.” It attracts some of the country’s brightest young minds with a promise of academic rigor and strong community. The college and the town maintain a close relationship. The college invites the public to join students at athletic events, arts performances, lectures and more.
William H. Van Every and Edward Smith Galleries is one of the institutions that best epitomizes the college/town crossover. Most of the campus rests within the natural boundary formed by Main Street and Concord Road. However, the Van Every/Smith Galleries hopscotch across Main Street, blurring the borders between town and college.
Van Every/Smith Galleries
The Galleries function as headquarters for the college’s permanent collection of over 4,000 works of art that encompass a range of media and eras. Additionally, the Van Every/Smith Galleries host rotating exhibitions. The shows feature local, national, and international artists, as well as biannual spotlights on student/faculty work.
The origin of the Van Every/Smith Galleries can be traced back to student initiative, in true Davidson College fashion. Davidson freshman Gordon Horton, in 1938, organized the first art exhibition. Horton proposed using the exhibition as a springboard to curate a permanent gallery and claim dedicated gallery space. However, his efforts were waylaid (presumably by World War II). Almost a decade passed before the college resumed conversations about bolstering visual arts initiatives on campus.
Much of the Galleries’ legacy and present-day grandeur can be attributed to Davidson alumnus and internationally-renowned artist Herb Jackson. Jackson committed years of his career and thousands of hours of his free time to the cause. By 1999, the permanent collection had exploded from a few pieces to 2,600 works of art under the guidance of Jackson. Additionally, the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Art Center, which now houses the Van Every/Smith Galleries, opened in 1993. This provided a more appropriate home for the now expansive collection.
Lia Newman, who has served as Director/Curator since 2013, now manages The Galleries. She works closely alongside Davidson College’s Art Collection Advisory Committee to preserve, promote, and expand the permanent collection.