By Susan Dibble
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During the decades that the late Rev. Michael Komechak amassed Benedictine University's impressive art collection of more than 3,000 pieces, he showcased his finds nearly everywhere on campus -- the library, hallways, offices, even restrooms.
Komechak died in August 2009 before he could realize his dream of having a gallery in which to display the art he loved so much. But his dream lives on.
Benedictine is asking artists, collectors, donors, faculty, staff, alumni and friends in the Chicago area to donate art and collectibles for an auction on Oct. 15 at Susanin's Auction House, 900 S. Clinton St., Chicago. The well-known auction house, with a global market, will hold a preview at 11 a.m. and the auction will start at noon.
The hope is to raise $100,000 to go toward a fund to build the gallery that Komechak wanted, said Teresa Parker, who succeeded Komechak as the university's curator.
"Literally, we need to raise about $6 million," she said.
Parker said the gallery could be housed in a performing and fine arts building that has been proposed for the campus, although the plans for the building are now on hold because of the economy. Since the fundraising could take several years, Parker said she hopes the auction will become an annual event.
"We've already gotten people who have been dropping things off," she said. "Being an artist, I'm putting in work myself."
Ceramics, furniture and decorative art are acceptable, Parker said. One woman has given a huge plate collection.
"Even if they collect trains, I would be very happy with that," she said.
Komechak's own tastes in art were eclectic, ranging from folk art to an etching by Rembrandt. During his career, he established contacts with artists and art collectors, many of whom donated work. He also was known in the surrounding community and nearby parishes for his art lectures.
The collection Komechak amassed is believed to be one of the largest held by a private university in the United States.
Parker said she is seeking more ways to display the art and that the university is starting to host art shows on levels from local to international. Like Komechak, she believes art can be used as a teaching tool.
Donated artwork may be dropped off at the office of the curator in Scholl Hall, Room 209, on the Benedictine campus, 5700 College Road, Lisle. The Department of Fine Arts will make arrangements to pick up large items for auction.
For information, contact Parker at (630) 829-6270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.