Keeping up with contemporary photography is no small chore. But add to that having the darkrooms open 60 hours a week, managing a publications subscription program, and writing grant proposals, and you'd think the staff outnumbers Idaho's population. In fact, it's a four-person operation with Hoone, associate director Gary Hesse G'92, administrative assistant Mary Lee Hodgens G'91, and Burnett. They receive additional assistance from a handful of work-study students, interns, and graduate assistants. "I've always seen artists as problem-solvers," Hoone says. "Everyone who works here is an artist, so there's an interest and personal investment in what we're trying to accomplish as an organization."|
Light Work operates on an annual budget of about $500,000, which comes from earned income (subscription and darkroom fees) and government-and foundation-supported grants. The Student Government Association funds the darkrooms, and the University provides significant indirect support with free rent and maintenance. And at a time when some arts organizations struggle to survive, Light Work continues to thrive and build its reputation. It received the prestigious Governor's Arts Award in 1989, and regularly collects grants from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In January, the NEA awarded Light Work $40,000, the second largest NEA visual arts grant in the country.
Hoone, who received a Syracuse Post-Standard1998 Achievement Award recognizing his contributions to the community, is heavily involved with the national arts scene as well. He often serves on NEA and NYSCA panels, has been a visiting artist around the country, and is a respected essayist on the art of photography. He also maintains a strong connection to the field through his wife, Carrie Mae Weems, an internationally acclaimed art photographer whom he first met through Light Work. "You have to be creative to come up with ideas, but in order to turn an idea into a work of art, it's work," Hoone says. "It's the same with running an organization. If you're not creative and don't know how to solve problems and make decisions quickly, you probably won't be very successful."
SU Trustee Robert B. Menschel '51, H'91 has collected and supported photography on a national level for nearly three decades. Currently chairman of the photography committee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Menschel calls Hoone a "man of so many talents," citing his excellent eye for contemporary work and skills as a curator, photographer, writer, businessman, and arts advocate. "The key to success is a good leader, and Jeff is a unique, outstanding leader," says Menschel, whose gift to the University allowed Light Work to open the Menschel Gallery in 1985. "His selection of photographers is terrificso many of them have gone on to
important shows at major museums. He really makes an important contribution to photography and the campus. Light Work is a program of national significance, there's no doubt about it."In the near future, Light Work and the Community Darkrooms will receive one of the most substantial boosts in their history. The Watson Theater complex, which also houses University Union TV and radio stations WJPZ and WERW, is scheduled to undergo a major renovation beginning in 2000. It will be rededicated as the Robert B. Menschel Media Center. Richard Meier, one of the country's most prominent architects, is doing conceptual work for the building. "We're excited," Hoone says. "We've been working on the idea for about five years now and it's finally coming together. It's going to look a lot different." The project will double the 5,000 square feet now shared by Light Work and the Community Darkrooms, expand the computer labs and color printing facilities, and add a major exhibition space. "The program just gets better and better," Menschel says. |