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Doug Cook exhibition opens at UTM

The Doug Cook exhibition, 20 Years Before the Cast, opened at the UTM Museum on Monday, Aug. 30, spanning 20 years of Cook’s set designs.

Cook is the chairman of the Visual and Theater Arts Department and is single-handedly responsible for the set design of most UTM theater productions, including last year’s School House Rock. The exhibition will be on display until Nov. 5 and is open to the public.

“Much of the art work has hung in the English Department. I thought it would make a good exhibition, “said Richard Saunders, curator of the Special Collections and University Archives at UTM.

“This is an aspect of art most people don’t see. Ideas get battered around as people work. The set becomes transparent. The set sets the stage. One can partially see how viewers respond to a production. In an English play, the set is filled with visual richness, for example, and English Manor is rich and fun. On the flip side, in a play like Our Town, the stage is set with nothing at all.” The works of Cook are rich in diversity and visual flavor.

“Backdrops and properties ... for theatrical productions ... contribute strongly to how a play or musical is perceived,” Saunders said. “20 Years Before the Cast features color concept renderings, adding in both design sketches and production photos.”

“The purpose of college is to become more educated; more rounded,” Saunders said. “Students tend to be focused on facts; verbal or written. (This show) presents a side of non-textural creativity.”

Saunders adds, “One pitfall students get into is just getting through college, not getting into the aspect of learning. This shows one aspect of non-textual development.”

Cook will conduct a gallery presentation in regard to his work at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, in the Paul Meek Library’s Special Collections reading area, according to a press release.

A future exhibition is scheduled to open Nov. 15 “celebrating 100 years of flight.” At the Controls, coming from the Smithsonian, is a pictorial from the pilot’s viewpoint from the cockpit, complete with chips and cracks.

At the Controls showcases aircraft and spacecraft alike, from the Wright brothers’ flyer to the space shuttle. Other pictorial aircraft will be the SR 71, the fastest vehicle ever made; the Mercury 7 capsule, the first U.S. space craft manned by John Glenn; a P51 Mustang and acrobatic airplanes as well.

The University Museum is open to the public at no charge 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.