APA-hosted event gives university staff a glimpse of guitar art

Fifty specialty guitars, mandolins and ukuleles lined the walls of the University Gallery during a recent brown bag event. Attendees enjoyed refreshments as they clapped and stomped to the beat of live bluegrass music and later heard from local collector Henry Lowenstein, who spoke about his authentic collection of instruments.

The Academic and Professional Assembly (APA) partnered with the College of the Arts to host the Jan. 25 event showcasing the exhibit “Guitar Art: Historic Innovation of an American Icon through Industrial Design, Art & Music” at the University Gallery on SW 13th Street. The event was open to UF faculty and staff as well as students and members of the community.

Image of guitars hanging on a gallery wall

University Gallery Director Amy Vigilante, PhD, MFA, opened the event by introducing the exhibit’s designer, University Gallery graduate assistant Mara Reynolds, and giving a brief history of the gallery and a highlight of Lowenstein’s many accomplishments.

Bluegrass trio Boilin’ Oil took the stage while guests perused the collection. The trio played a variety of songs and included the audience in an interactive number at the end of their set.

During a break in the performance, Lowenstein, an attorney and UF alumnus, addressed the audience, sharing that he contributed a selection of his instruments to the exhibit in hopes of showcasing the instruments as works of art on their own.

“I hope that one of the things you get from this exhibit is, not only experiencing these really cool guitars and their history, but also how incredibly beautiful they are themselves,” Lowenstein said.

The brown bag event is part of a recurring University Gallery series. (Learn more here.) APA hosts an Executive Series that includes discussions with high-level administrators, a Campus Tour Series that gives staff the chance to visit interesting and innovative areas of UF, and networking events to foster connection. The group’s goal is to connect staff with resources, colleagues and opportunities across campus.

Image of an audience watching a bluegrass performance with a background of hanging guitars

“Our vision is for APA to contribute to the university’s goal of preeminence through people by fostering community and collaboration among staff across campus, promoting inclusiveness, and increasing staff engagement and retention,” said Krista Vaught, APA president and director of Academic Strategic Initiatives and Compliance in the Levin College of Law. “We have more than 40 board members and representatives across campus, and, in January, we launched an ambassador program to reach out to new staff and assist them with integrating into the campus community.”

Future APA events this semester will feature tours of the HiPerGator (the most powerful computer at a U.S. public university) and the IFAS Meat Processing Facility, a conversation with UF Vice President for Human Resources Jodi Gentry and more. Most APA events are open to all. TEAMS professional staff automatically receive APA’s newsletter, and anyone can subscribe or visit the website to learn more.

Story by Sarah Bartholemy, UFHR Communications and WorkLife