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A Slice of Art: Donors' Exhibit

Swanson Piece

"A Slice of Art: Donors' Exhibit from the Villanova University Art Collection"

Exhibit Date: March 10-September 25, 2017 


Villanova, PA—A Slice of Art: Donors’ Exhibit from the Villanova University Art Collection is an exhibition of 85 pieces that have been donated to the Villanova University Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Presented in conjunction with Villanova’s 175th Anniversary celebration, A Slice of Art highlights the essential role that donors have played in the development of the Gallery’s collection. 

From March to September, the Gallery will rotate the works on display, featuring vivid photographs, an array of painting styles, wood carved panels and other media. Many of the pieces in A Slice of Art will be on view for the first time. 

The Art Gallery is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Convenient on-campus parking is available. A Slice of Art continues to September 25. Selected works from the exhibit may be previewed on the gallery’s website at

Through the generosity of alumni, patrons, and artists themselves, the Villanova Art Gallery has amassed a world-class collection of more than 8,000 works of art, including a wide variety of work by prominent past and contemporary Philadelphia artists. In collecting, preserving, and exhibiting pieces of value and importance, the Gallery underscores Villanova’s essential contributions to and participation in the region’s vibrant artistic life. Each donated work of art broadens the Gallery’s ability to make art an integral component of a Villanova University education. 

Gallery Director and Curator Rev. Richard G. Cannuli, OSA, emphasizes the importance of the donor-gallery relationship: “Like so many galleries and museums, our budget for acquisitions is limited. When someone entrusts a piece of art into our care, it is a gift to the entire community. We are honored to receive and safeguard artwork that has held special meaning for a donor. When we put together an exhibit from our collection, we strive to place the donated work in context for our on- and off-campus audiences, so that it can have maximum impact on the viewer.” 

Notable recent acquisitions included in A Slice of Art are Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Cardinal John Henry Newman, a pair of superb wood carved panels by Robert F. McGovern, a distinguished painter, printmaker, and sculptor from Narberth, PA. McGovern’s works and designs, including wood, bronze, and lead reliefs; carved oak and basswood murals; statues, altar furniture, lecterns, processional crosses, entranceways, and altarpieces, are in places of worship throughout the Philadelphia area and across the nation. The panels are the gift of Msgr. Francis A. Carbine, who has been a patron of the Gallery since 2005. 

Eagerly anticipated for debut in mid-April is St. Nicholas of Tolentino (artist unknown), an oil painting dating to 16th or 17th century colonial Mexico. St. Nicholas of Tolentino (1245-1305) was an Augustinian friar renowned for his humility, gentleness, and charity. He spent his adult life in Tolentino, Italy, ministering to the sick and needy. He was known throughout the city as a miracle worker. In the painting St. Nicholas of Tolentino, St. Nicholas is kneeling in front of a crucifix with a skull in his left hand and a chain over his left shoulder. When the painting was donated in 2016 by Daniel H. and Nancy R. Lori, the Loris knew it was in need of restoration—and that Fr. Cannuli was the right shepherd for the process. Fr. Cannuli enlisted the help of Steven B. Erisoty, a Philadelphia-area art conservator, to painstakingly strip away the hundreds of years worth of varnish, oil, and dirt that covered the painting. The process has resulted in an image that has been both clarified and rejuvenated. 

A Slice of Art will also include three photographs by Roman Catholic Cardinal Prospero Grech, OSA, of Malta. Cardinal Grech, who identifies himself as theologian, teacher, writer, researcher, and mentor, enjoyed a well-received solo exhibit in the Art Gallery in 2015. After the exhibit, he donated all of the displayed photographs to the Gallery. Cardinal Grech says he strives for beauty in imagery that balances color, light and timing, with his favorite subject matter being people and architecture. 

The Gallery experienced a loss this February with the passing of Burton Wasserman, whose painting “Dark and Brooding Cavern” is included in A Slice of Art. Dr. Wasserman, who taught for more than four decades at Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State College), was a longtime friend of Fr. Cannuli and an advocate for the Gallery. He was a thoughtful critic, a respected scholar, and a celebrated artist. He will be missed.

A full list of works and artists included in A Slice of Art is available upon request by contacting the Villanova Art Gallery at 610-519-4612.

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