June 25, 2024

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, June 24, 2024 — Centenary University presents its Archive Collection at Taylor Memorial Library from May 1 to September 30, 2024. Exhibits are in the library’s foyer gallery, downstairs corridor gallery, 2nd floor study room, 1st floor Centenary Mini-Museum, & next to Afro-American celebrity paintings by 1960s Art Professor Robert Wood, including the Seay Building parlors, president’s house, presidential offices, finance department, & welcome center.

The exhibit highlights 150 paintings, photographs, etchings, engravings, & drawings from the archive’s over 100,000 images. Founded in 1863, Centenary’s first building opened on September 9, 1867. The ‘Main’ building was lost to fire on October 31, 1899. The new building opened in 1901, designed by Oscar S. Teale, a colleague of magician Harry Houdini. In 1959, it was named in honor of 8th President Edward W. Seay (1948-76). Centenary Collegiate Institute initially prepared students for college & underwent changes to a women’s school twice. Renamed Centenary Community College in the 1960s & coeducational since the 1980s, it became a university in 2016. The exhibit samples images illustrating the school’s illustrious, dramatic past.

In 1953, benefactors William and May D. Taylor, alumni of 1890, worked with then-library director Ruth Scarborough (1946-82) to oversee a new Asian-styled building. Winning a National Design & Innovation Award when inaugurated in 1954, by the early 1960s, Centenary’s library collection became a national model for community colleges. Mrs. Taylor, daughter of John Emory Andrus, a prominent industrialist & former mayor of Yonkers, NY, also a congressman, played a leading role in Centenary’s history. His SURDNA Foundation continues to support the University. The library is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

The library started a campaign to digitize its archive in 2003. Colleen Bain, library archivist from 2007 to 2023, accelerated the effort, supported by Wendi Blewett, an artist, graphics, & social media expert (2010-2021). Upon Bain’s retirement in Dec. 2023, the archive was named The Colleen Bain Archive & Special Collections. Director Susan Van Alstyne now collaborates with history professor Noah Haiduc-Dale & new hire Victoria Ramsay on archive direction & digitization. Centenary Advancement Director Jordan Glatt is conducting a feasibility study for a library addition to house the archive.

The exhibition & framing restoration of the library’s archive were initiated by Centenary Theatre Arts Professor Joseph Coco. Employed since 2004, Coco moved to the Professional Studies Parsippany extension campus in 2012. Dean Anthony Yacullo had started a lecture series modeled after Benjamin Franklin’s “13 Codes of Virtue” through the Leather Apron Meetings of the mid-1700s, focusing on community, ideas, & transformation. Coco focused on codes 5 & 6—frugality & volunteerism—and by 2015, 115 donated frames were collected from staff, starting the College Pride initiative. Renewed for the library’s 70th anniversary in 2024, the collection now boasts 150 framed images. With Franklin’s Virtue Precepts in mind, materials cost $145.55, with 323 hours of volunteer labor, totaling $21,087.43 not paid by the University.

Centenary University celebrated the 50th anniversary of Coco’s Full Moon Series in December 2022, with 16 exhibits continuing through 2024 in the Taylor Library Gallery. “Coco’s Full Moon Series is unprecedented, a first in World Art history,” said A. Onuff, Ph.D. Started in 1972, the collection comprises 136 paintings, drawings, & prints. In 2022, Flying Game Press published Coco’s “I Paint the Moon,” a 260-page full-color book available through LuLu.com.

A versatile singer-songwriter with infectious energy, Coco has performed at venues from New York’s Bottom Line & Folk City, LA’s Troubadour, Switzerland’s Atlantis Club, to Rome’s Teatro Sistina. With 850 songs registered with BMI, 58 albums since 1979 reflect a strong social conscience. A native of Passaic, NJ, Coco lived in Flagstaff, AZ for 8 years & Messina, Sicily for 5 years. Six albums are in Cleveland’s Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Special Collections, including “Blues House,” considered one of the first Blues Operas.

Visit the Taylor Memorial Library, 400 Monroe Street, Hackettstown, NJ 07840, May 1 to September 30, 2024. Contact library staff at the front desk 908-852-1400 x2345, Rita Keen x2550. Library hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Currently an Adjunct Professor at Centenary University since 2004, Coco teaches Art Appreciation, Painting, Drawing, and History of Rock n Rap courses.


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