Edward M. Dowd and the New Art Building

If you’ve happened to meander towards Franklin Street any time this year, there’s no doubt that you’ve noticed the new art building. With its window-lined dome and Spanish architectural features, the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building takes the classic look of Claradise and elevates it to a modern level. For anyone who, like myself, has fulfilled your art requirement in the old building, this new one is almost an excuse to take another. Stepping inside, the “Persian and Horn Chandelier,” by famed artist Dave Chihuly, twinkles in the light of the glass dome, inspiring all who walk through with its intricate glass curves. And to the left, a collection of staff and purchased art is on display. Down the hall are smaller displays of historical artifacts found during the excavation for construction.

But what’s the story behind the building? Who’s Edward Dowd and how did the school acquire a Chihuly? Ed Dowd graduated from SCU in 1972 and went on to establish a crazy successful real estate business. Though never one for art, his interest in it piqued after donating and installing a similar lovely glass Chihuly sculpture in Palo Alto Medical Foundation, the hospital where he had previously received treatment. According to NBC Bay Area, he said that the reaction he gained in the aftermath of the installation—the dozens of letters from patients and professionals claiming that it brightened their visit—showed him the true power of art.

After this, he has become dedicated to bringing similar joy to different locations, including Santa Clara University. Along with a solid $12 million donation, he gifted the beautiful chandelier and invested in an arts program at his alma mater. That sure raises the bar for the rest of us. The hope is that more students will be attracted to art and art history through the new building, and that they will have more mediums to explore their creativity. In turn, the building features not only the traditional sculpture and ceramics studio and tool shop, but also an “Imaginarium” classroom for 3D art and a “Virtual Canvas” display on the main floor

(image courtesy of Santa Clara magazine)

With all of this, SCU aspires to bring their art program into the 21st century and beyond with the hope that art can continue brightening faces and touching hearts.