Dorothy and Sterling Strauser
The Strauser Circle includes a select group of outsider artists whose ability or potential caught the eye of Sterling Strauser. Some were artists who were otherwise less well known before their chance encounters with Strauser. Artists such as Justin McCarthy, Jack Savitsky, Victor Joseph Gatto, Joe Polinski, Tom Fish, “Old Ironsides” Pry, Charlie Dieter, Red Grooms and Nancy Hebard were fortunate to be part of this unique “Circle.”
In essence, he became their willing and eager promoter and friend without wanting anything in return other than to open the art world’s eyes to what he saw in them – what he knew they could be. His unwavering devotion to cementing their place in the art scene often took priority over his own achievements.
As part of preserving Strauser’s legacy, the Sterling Strauser Gallery has added and will continue to seek a variety of works by Strauser Circle artists. Most recently, the Gallery has acquired works by Strauser, Polinski, Dieter, Fish, McCarthy, Hebard, Pry and Savitsky, along with a collection of Savitsky photos and papers. These acquisitions were facilitated through donations from Grey and Linda Carter (also donors of the founding Strauser collection), Walt Polinski, Richard Crawford, Mary Ann Schimpf, Ted Fish, John (Jack) Juka, Andy Worthington and the proceeds of the annual Strauser events at ESU. Many of these pieces are currently on display.
About the Gallery
East Stroudsburg University became a focal point for Strauser’s art in March of 2012 with the gift of 114 of his works donated by Grey and Linda Carter and family of McLean, Va.
With that gift, it became the Gallery’s mission to become an educational and cultural center dedicated to encouraging and developing the study and appreciation of visual art, giving special emphasis to the collection, exhibition and preservation of the works and papers of Strauser. The Gallery strives to contribute to the academic, cultural and social life of the University and surrounding community; seeks to encourage public perception and circulate knowledge to enhance educational, cultural and artistic communities across the region, the nation and abroad; provide a venue for exhibitions of historical works of art as well as a setting for the presentation of works by students and a place of opportunity for aspiring artists within the community. By advancing the appreciation and study of Sterling Strauser, the Gallery will bring awareness to community members of the great legacy of art in the Poconos and provide a continuum for future artists as they practice their art.
Additionally, the Gallery has acquired many papers of Sterling Strauser, which will be made available to persons studying Strauser and his wife Dorothy and the artists of the Strauser Circle. The Gallery is intended as a center for scholarship regarding the lives of these significant American artists. The historical papers were slated for donation to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., but, due to the significance of the painting collection, the Strauser family agreed to give them to the University so that the art and papers of Strauser can be studied and appreciated in the same location.
Since opening, the Gallery has acquired over 40 additional pieces consisting of other important Strauser works and works by Strauser Circle artists. These acquisitions were made possible through proceeds from annual events as well as generous gifts by friends of the Gallery.
The Sterling Strauser Gallery Committee, which includes fourteen University and community representatives, manages the activities and events featuring the Strauser Collection, currently housed in the ESU Innovation Center. Future plans include hiring a curator for the collection and identifying volunteer docents once the collection is located in its permanent home in the University’s new Keystone Center.
Upon completion of the Keystone Center, the Gallery will be relocated and become part of ESU’s largest campus building, which will be the central hub of student life and learning. The 240,000 square foot Center will bring critical elements of student life (i.e. University Library, Computer Center, University Center, and Student Activities) to the heart the of campus.
Construction of the gallery space and housing the collection of Strauser papers will cost more than $1 million and ongoing program and direct costs are estimated at approximately $65,000.00 annually. The ESU Foundation will seek support to cover some of these expenses, however, acquisitions would place an additional demand on fundraising and the collection will suffer if it cannot be expanded through the purchase of additional pieces. The ESU Foundation will continue to seek gifts of Strauser and Strauser Circle art whenever possible as well as conducting annual fundraising campaigns in support of the Gallery’s operating needs.
The ESU Foundation is an independent affiliate of East Stroudsburg University with the sole mission of soliciting, receiving and administering gifts and donations that promote the growth, progress and general welfare of ESU and its students. Founded as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 1986, the ESU Foundation core areas of programming include the ESU Foundation Annual Fund, Major Gifts, Planned Giving, Corporate and Community Relations, Stewardship, and Alumni Engagement. Located on campus in the Henry A. Ahnert, Jr. Alumni Center, the ESU Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of alumni and community leaders that set policy and have fiduciary responsibility for all private funds contributed to the ESU Foundation.
The acquisition and ongoing support of an art collection offers an invaluable resource for students, many of whom have little or no experience with art museums. Given the cutbacks in the schools for art programs, college-level art history courses and this gallery may be their last opportunity to be exposed to art before they graduate and move on to careers. The Gallery will introduce many students to a curated collection on a manageable and local level, and the opportunity to develop research, analytical, documentary, creative and critical thinking skills onsite at their own university.
The expanded Sterling Strauser collection will provide exciting opportunities to present Sterling Strauser’s work to our community residents, students of various grade levels and districts, and visitors from near and far. Through exhibits, educational programming and field trips, art competitions, auctions, oral histories, social gatherings and events, Sterling and Dorothy will continue to influence the arts throughout the Pocono Region.
Strauser Gallery Visionaries