Vaughn-Gruler's paintings on display at CSN

Since students are the principal audience of the Artspace Gallery on the College of Southern Nevada's Cheyenne Campus, CSN exhibits manager Chris Tsouras takes his inspiration in selecting exhibits from what he thinks will inspire them. Starting Friday, that will be the works of painter Blair Vaughn-Gruler.

"Often I'll tailor my selections to works that I think could have significant impact on our students and a specific curriculum," he said.

He chose Vaughn-Gruler's paintings for her particular style, which involves the use of sgraffito, in which the artist scratches through the top layer of the paint that has been applied to the canvas.

"I thought it was an interesting hybridization between painting and drawing," he said. Plus, "her color palette is really muted. I saw that as particularly interesting -- and again, a benefit for our students. How can you produce an image that has a significant impact with a subtle color palette?"

The gallery is an 80-foot linear space that's actually a hallway. And that's part of its appeal.

"The Artspace Gallery is obviously very immediate and accessible," Tsouras said. "As many as 5,000 students a day may walk through that space. The exposure to the arts is a wonderful opportunity."

He said he thinks the very structure -- or relative lack thereof -- of the gallery has its own advantages.

"Because of the informality of the space, our students tend to be uninhibited in regard to asking questions about the artwork," Tsouras noted. "It's a great space in terms of directly engaging students in a very informal way."

Tsouras added that he sometimes selects work to inspire students in other ways, as in exposing them to various facets of the curriculum. For example, if enrollment in printmaking is low, he may choose to exhibit a printmaking show.

"That typically will generate interest and boost our numbers," he said.

Tsouras said that each year he reviews 200 to 300 applications for display space in the college's galleries.

And, of course, he said efforts are made to reach out to the public and invite them to view the exhibits. The Artspace Gallery is open during normal classroom hours.

Vaughn-Gruler, who works out of Taos, N.M., will be in Las Vegas on Nov. 18 for a 10 a.m. appearance at the arts complex at the college's campus at 6375 W. Charleston Blvd. in North Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@ or 702-383-0474.