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Gail Benedict Brings Art Home to UC Merced

February 18, 2005

After many years devoted to family issues, Benedict finally found time a few years ago for an evening painting class. Until that time, I had never touched a paintbrush to canvas, she says. Yet everyone was amazed at my first painting, and I haven't stopped since. Humbly, though, Benedict considers herself a beginner striving to find her artistic voice. She has begun working toward her Bachelor's degree, hoping to major in fine art or art history, and may even complete that work at UC Merced.

As for art coordination for the campus, Benedict remembers how it began. I hung a couple of my own paintings in my office, and Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey noticed. She asked me to make our space a more inspiring place to work using pieces by local artists, she says. Benedict coordinates campus art on a volunteer basis in addition to her job assisting Vice Chancellor for Administration Lindsay Desrochers. She meets with local artists to review the work they would like to exhibit, solicits input from others on campus, and finally takes care of hanging and labeling the work.

Jeanie Smith in the UC Merced Fresno Center performs similar duties and also schedules exhibitions and receptions, including the upcoming exhibit of Professor Dunya Ramicova's costume designs. Jeanie really taught me how to do this, Benedict says. She should get a lot more credit for what she does.

Benedict is excited to watch the arts blossom on campus. I dream about assisting with the acquisition of a permanent collection of paintings and sculpture for UC Merced, she says.

In the meantime, she strives to find time to paint. It takes long periods of concentrated effort, and I rarely have those moments, she says. But as evidenced by a few of her own works occasionally popping up in the hallways, she does find them, and the entire campus enjoys the benefits.