J. Arthur Morris exhibit opens next Friday

DOWNEY - Stay Gallery will debut its first collection series with a gala event Feb. 8 from 6-10 p.m.The series is titled "First Glance" and will showcase the J. Arthur Morris Collection.

Stay Gallery took the collection on loan after they were contacted by Grace Eshilian, a close friend of the Morris family.

In addition to his instrumental role in the creation and advancement of Downey Community Hospital, Morris was an avid and talented photographer. His family still owns a photography studio on Firestone Boulevard.

In his later years, Morris became known as a generous community pillar and philanthropist. He donated more than $1 million to Downey Regional Medical Center's radiology department.

But it will be Morris's life behind the camera that will be the focus at Stay Gallery. "This collection is beautiful. It tells an incredible story of a very inspiring man," said Valentin Flores, executive director of Stay Gallery. "We are very excited to share these photographs with the rest of our community."

The gallery has been working on the collection with Morris family members for several months. The collection is expected to be displayed through several exhibits.

"Jim and Mary (Morris) are awesome. They realized that we were doing a good thing for our community and have been incredibly helpful throughout the process," said creative director Gabriel Enamorado.

"They have met with us multiple times, helping us piece together the story of a beloved community member that continues to give to Downey. They have helped us curate the exhibit, write the language, and get the word out about the event. Simply awesome people. They have helped us better understand our city, something we are constantly seeking to do. We've learned a lot about J. Arthur Morris through the telling of their stories -- we can't thank them enough."

The exhibit's opening on Fe. 8 coincides with "J. Arthur Morris Day" in Downey.

While the event is free, the gallery is asking for donations at the door to help cover production costs and to allow for curation of future Morris events. The gallery has more than 300 pieces it has carefully divided into several series they plan to exhibit in the future.

The event is open to the public and will feature live jazz, hors d'oeuvres and hand-crafted punches inspired by classic cocktails from the Lock & Key Social Drinkery, still under construction in Downtown Downey.

"Also, don't forget to dress classy, it's going to be an incredible night," added Flores.

********** Published: January 31, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 42