Located on the lower level of Plough Library in the center of campus, the Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery is easily accessible from the Central Avenue parking lot (see map). All exhibits are free and open to the public. The gallery attempts to feature five to six exhibitions a year by local, regional, national and international artists.
Because of the educational nature of its exhibits, Ross Gallery is not competitive with other commercial or public galleries in Memphis. However, art exhibited there can, if available, be purchased directly from the artists. Exhibits at the gallery are usually not critiqued, so visiting artists can feel comfortable sharing works that show the progression of their careers, even pencil drawings and drafts. Visitors are able to see these works, thereby realizing the many years of training and study required for the production of fine art.
Since its beginnings at 612 Adams Street in 1871, Christian Brothers University has had a tradition of art and art exhibitions. Mary Solari (1849-1929), considered one of the 100 most important artists in the State of Tennessee, exhibited her work on the Adams Street campus.
During the war years this tradition ceased but was reestablished in 1990, when Brother Robert Werle founded the Christian Brothers University Gallery and was named Director and Curator of Arts and Special Collections. His purpose was to bring original works of art to the campus for the education and enjoyment of the students. Since its beginning Brother Robert has acted as curator or director for exhibits and has worked diligently to establish and maintain a quality reputation of art exhibits on campus.
In 1992 Beverly and Sam Ross became friends of Christian Brothers University and an important part of our Lasallian Family. Having no children of their own, they became “adoptive parents” for a large number of international students from Mexico who did not travel home for the traditional American holidays. The students often spent those holidays in the Ross home around their dinner table in lively conversations that led to many lifelong friendships. The students often sought their advice and wise counsel about their plans and futures. Beverly and Sam have lovingly attended each of their graduations from CBU and many of their weddings.
In addition to his career as a businessman, deli owner, and real estate guru, Sam and Beverly are best known for the business they created together, Fantastic Sam’s hair salons, here in Memphis. It was during those years that they became avid collectors of Studio Glass. In 1994 the Christian Brothers University gallery was privileged to have an exhibition of this world class collection. A record crowd attended the opening, and Sam and Beverly announced publicly their intention of donating the collection to CBU. On February 28, 2005, after a great deal of convincing, Sam and Beverly consented to give their name to the gallery in appreciation for their contribution as patrons of the arts in the City of Memphis and CBU.