Art Galleries

Sweet Briar College believes that the study of original works of art is an invaluable component of a liberal arts education. As such, the College has an impressive collection of art, which is housed in several art galleries and a museum on campus. The collection provides an ongoing opportunity for object-based learning with students and professors examining and researching significant paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures and other works of art together. The galleries are also a cultural destination for passing visitors, within a remarkable network of rural arts venues in the area.

In 1984, Sweet Briar College renovated the former refectory (dining hall) to house the art collection and art library. The building, now called the Anne Gary Pannell Center, is the College’s principal art gallery and is home to the art history program and arts management certificate. In addition, it is a venue for lectures and classes, as well as other educational programs and public events.

Pannell Gallery neighbors two further galleries, one located in the mid-century foyer of Benedict Hall and one in the vaulted entrance to the Library. In addition to hosting exhibitions, each gallery also serve as spaces for talks and social events. 

Art acquisitions and art collection-related programs and activities are supported in part by the College’s Friends of Art.


Gallery Events

Leslie Van Stavern Millar lived overseas during her childhood in post WWII Europe and Asia. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with an Interdepartmental Degree in Studio Art and Biology. As an independent artist during the past fifty years, she has participated in the blossoming of Missoula Montana’s vibrant cultural scene. Focusing primarily on painting with gouache on paper, her interest in this under-utilized medium was inspired by living in Iran as a child in the 1950’s and looking at Persian Miniature paintings first hand.

Mendel Lee is a New Orleans-based composer whose career oscillates between composition, entrepreneurship, and music education in the pageantry arts. Since exiting his long career as Assistant Director of Tulane Bands in 2022, his primary focus in addition to his own music has been with nienteForte Contemporary Music as its Founding Executive Director, Versipel New Music as a composer, performer, and administrator, and Rhythm X, Inc. where he serves on the Board of Directors.

VCCA Salons are monthly collaborative events that provide the opportunity for Fellows in the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) residency program to share their work. More information can be found here: VCCA Salon Series

These events are FREE and open to the public. If attending, please check in at the guard gate and let them know you are here for the event. SBC also offers campus wide FREE parking.

Alma Ensemble is a classical chamber ensemble that focuses on performing and commissioning works by female composers. Founded by flutist Sarah Wardle Jones, clarinetist Michelle Smith Johnson, and pianist Erica Sipes, Alma Ensemble is dedicated to championing women in music, connecting with audiences, and promoting music education. Born from a desire of the founding members to create music that is empowering and personally resonant, Alma Ensemble regularly performs chamber music by women composers while exploring performance practices outside the traditional classical paradigm. As part of their mission, Alma Ensemble also actively commissions and programs new works by women composers.

All performances in the Gager Concert Series are FREE and open to the public. Just check in at the guard gate and let them know you are here for this event. SBC also offers campuswide FREE parking. 

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The Janet Lowrey Gager Community Concert Series is made possible by the support of the late Forrest Gager, in memory of his wife, Janet, who served as Sweet Briar’s director of public relations. The series features classical music from around the world performed by Sweet Briar College faculty and students, as well as guest artists.

This event is partially supported by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kay Rooney is a professional violinist whose experience includes performing with several orchestras and ensembles in the most prestigious and historical venues of the world, such as Carnegie Hall in NYC, Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston, Teatro Amazonas in Brazil and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing music from the baroque period to contemporary music with ensembles, singers, and orchestras.

Her musical collaborations include working with intimate chamber ensembles, such as ME2/strings, which advocates for mental health in sharing music, the newly established Roanoke Baroque and Boston Festival Orchestra, to larger symphony orchestras such as the Roanoke and Lynchburg Symphony Orchestras, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Work with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera and Boston University’s Marsh Chapel Collegium led to several recordings of her work. She also enjoyed collaborating with singers to perform with Odyssey Opera, Opera North, Opera Roanoke and Opera on the James.

Based in Lynchburg, Rooney is a member of the adjunct faculty at Sweet Briar College and Randolph College, where she teaches violin and viola. She also welcomes students of all ages into her own private studio. She holds a master’s degree in violin performance and a performance diploma from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. 

All performances in the Gager Concert Series are FREE and open to the public. Just check in at the guard gate and let them know you are here for this event. SBC also offers campuswide FREE parking. 

The Janet Lowrey Gager Community Concert Series is made possible by the support of the late Forrest Gager, in memory of his wife, Janet, who served as Sweet Briar’s director of public relations. The series features classical music from around the world performed by Sweet Briar College faculty and students, as well as guest artists.

A reading by poet and novelist Lisa Russ Spaar.

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of a novel, Paradise Close (Persea, 2022); six acclaimed collections of poetry, including Madrigalia: New & Selected Poems (Persea, 2021), Orexia (Persea, 2017), Vanitas, Rough (Persea, 2013), Satin Cash (Persea, 2008), Blue Venus (Persea, 2004), and Glass Town (Red Hen Press, 1999); and two poetry chapbooks, Blind Boy on Skates (1986) and Cellar (1983). She is also the author of The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry (Drunken Boat Media, 2013), a collection of poetry history and criticism, and she was a 2014 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

She has edited four poetry anthologies, including More Truly and More Strange: 100 Contemporary American Self-Portrait Poems (Persea, 2020), Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Jefferson (University of Virginia Press, 2016), All That Might Heart: London Poems (University of Virginia Press, 2008), and Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems (Columbia University Press, 1999). Spaar has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Library of Virginia Award for Poetry, and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors and awards. She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, where for many years she directed the MFA program.

VCCA Salons are monthly collaborative events that provide the opportunity for Fellows in the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) residency program to share their work. The April 10th presenters will be announced soon. More information can be found here: VCCA Salon Series

These events are FREE and open to the public. If attending, please check in at the guard gate and let them know you are here for the event. SBC also offers campus wide FREE parking.