The Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University aims to create an atmosphere that encourages artistic experimentation with a focus on contemporary artistic practices and theory. The gallery hosts roughly ten exhibitions each academic year, showcasing the work of local, regional, and national artists.
Outside of the gallery's exhibitions, additional programing focuses on student learning through workshops, lectures, and special projects while aiming to connect the school’s legacy of social justice and service to our community through the arts.
The Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery is located on the lower level of Plough Library in the center of campus on the Buckman Quadrangle, easily accessible from the Central Avenue parking lot. All exhibits are free and open to the public.
The Gallery is open whenever Plough Library is open, and Library hours vary with the school year. Please see the Library & Gallery Hours page before planning a visit.
History of the Gallery
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), acknowledged as one of the 100 most important artists in the history of the State of Tennessee, exhibited her work on the Adams Street campus. this tradition ceased during the years of World War 1 and 2 and was reestablished in 1990 when Brother Robert Werle, F.S.C. founded the Christian Brothers University Gallery (now the Beverly & Sam Ross 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. Brother Robert acted as curator or director for over a hundred exhibits and worked diligently to establish and maintain a quality reputation of art exhibits on campus. After 25 years as director, Brother Robert retired in May 2016.
Rollin Kocsis assumed the role of interim director upon Brother Robert's retirement. For over 37 years, he taught junior high and high school general and advanced art, photography, printmaking, pottery, fibers, and yearbook production for the Memphis City Schools. An accomplished and widely exhibited artist himself, Koscis retired from teaching in 2009 and served as director of Gallery Fifty Six in Memphis from 2010 until 2015.
In August of 2017, Cat Peña became the director of the Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery. Peña (BFA/MFA) is a working artist, art administrator, and independent public art consultant. Her artwork seeks to incite social change in hopes of bringing self awareness to the viewer and to our surrounding social structures. Peña’s artwork has been exhibited in Seattle, New York, Chicago, Memphis, St. Louis, Boulder, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Milwaukee. Peña has received public art commissions from the Downtown Memphis Commission, UrbanArt Commission, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. In addition, she was selected to attend an artist residency at the School of Visual Art in New York City called City as Site. In 2014, Peña founded a public art creative platform called Collabortory that expands public art practices through collaborative and social practices.
The Beverly and Sam Ross Gallery
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 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, headquartered 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 their world-class collection. A record crowd attended the opening, and Sam and Beverly publicly announced their intention to donate their collection to CBU. After a great deal of convincing, on February 28, 2005, 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.