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The Sage Colleges Receives $1.2 Million Gift for the Opalka Gallery

The Sage Colleges today announced that it has received a $1.2 million gift from Chet and Karen Opalka in support of the Opalka Gallery on the Sage College of Albany campus.

The Opalkas contributed $2 million to construct the gallery prior to its grand opening in 2002, and worked closely with founding director Jim Richard Wilson to establish the gallery as an anchor institution for the visual arts in upstate New York. The lauded venue has since brought prestigious exhibitions and thousands of visitors to the Sage College of Albany campus. This new gift will support exhibitions and special events during the gallery’s 2017-2018 season and create a $1 million endowment fund.

“This is an extraordinary gift,” said Dr. Christopher Ames, president of The Sage Colleges. “Chet and Karen’s generosity has already had a major impact on the arts and at Sage. This will do even more to enhance cultural life on the Sage campuses and in our wider community.”

“My heart as well as my name will always be with this gallery,” said Chet Opalka. “Karen and I are proud to ensure the gallery’s future as an educational and cultural resource for Sage College of Albany and our entire community.”

Now retired, Chet Opalka is a co-founder of Albany Molecular Research Inc., and a member of The Sage Colleges Board of Trustees. His wife, Karen, attended Sage Graduate School. They have two adult children, including Jesse, a 1997 graduate of Sage’s Albany campus. The Opalkas also support scholarships for Sage students studying art or elementary education. In 2012, they gave Dayton Pointe, a sculpture by John Van Alstine, to Sage, in honor of the Opalka Gallery’s 10th anniversary. In 2016, they gave Inner View_Nexus_Open I, a sculpture by Caroline Ramersdorfer, in honor of The Sage Colleges’ Centennial. Dayton Pointe is installed in front of the gallery on New Scotland Avenue; Inner View_Nexus_Open I sits at the gallery’s entrance.

“It is rare for a new gallery director to receive such significant support for their vision from the start,” said Judie Gilmore, who took the helm of the Opalka Gallery as director this past summer. “I look forward to being a good steward and creative partner as this gift continues its effect far into the future.”

This academic year marks the Opalka Gallery’s 15th season. The fall exhibition, Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design, runs through December 15. A tour of the exhibition with Chris Harrold of paper manufacturer Mohawk on November 3 will be followed by a talk by Seymour Chwast, a renowned graphic designer, illustrator and type designer who co-founded New York City’s Push Pin Studios in 1954. Visit for more information.

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