Dale Newkirk’s passion for art began as a two-year-old learning to hold his first writing utensil. Asthma and allergies kept him practically bedridden for much of the first seven years of his life. His talent for drawing grew as he was hospitalized off and on over the years until new medications were developed that improved his health exponentially. Art became his focus during those early years because of the way it sparked his creativity. The praise he received from friends and family for his talent was the inspiration that drove him to pursue his love of art.
In 1982, Newkirk received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture from Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. Two years later, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Today, Newkirk is the director of Clark Hall Gallery at Southeastern as well as the Interim Department Head for the Fine Arts Department. He has exhibited his artwork throughout the United States and abroad and has been involved with Fanfare at Southeastern.
In 1986, when Southeastern cancelled its football program, the university decided to start an arts program called Fanfare. This annual event draws artists from around the country who show their art on campus and throughout the community, including the downtown Columbia Theatre. It has become so popular over the years that even when Southeastern reinstated its football program in 2003, Fanfare continued to thrive.
Newkirk has headed Fanfare for 12 years and has been in charge of recruiting the artists over the years. The 2015 Fanfare season had Newkirk searching the country for the most recent college graduates with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts.
“These artists are on the cutting-edge of their field of study,” he says. “Sculptures, paintings and drawings are taking the main focus this fall season. Other art forms, such as textiles, poetry readings and music will be featured next term.”
This art program is one way of keeping the arts alive in our community.
“The growing trend of budget cuts to the arts is experienced not only at SLU but also throughout the country,” Newkirk says. “These cuts affect our culture and history.”
Approximately $561,000 was cut from last year’s Fine & Performing Arts Department budget for the current school year, according to the Board of Regents. One way to combat this lack of funds is through fundraisers, such as those held by the marching band. Recruitment of future students to the arts program also is a primary goal of the department.
Southeastern students are the main beneficiaries of the work that goes into Fanfare and the various exhibitions at the Southeastern Gallery of Contemporary Arts in Clark Hall. The events take place throughout October and are free to students presenting their student identification.