Guest Posts

Denise Stangl: The Business of Art

A Guest Post by Rebecca Glassman

            Denise Stangl describes herself as a “wearer of many hats.” As the operations manager for Lehigh University Art Galleries, Denise’s job is to make the exhibits happen. She deals with the financial, legal, and human resource aspects of the galleries, and administers advertising campaigns, grant writing, donation collection, and volunteer coordination. To top it all off, Denise supervises the museum consignment shop. All of these responsibilities create Denise Stangl’s position on the gallery team, and she enjoys every aspect of it.

A native and current Bethlehem resident, Denise has a B.A. in business with a concentration in not-for-profit administration from Moravian College. She also has certifications in business communication, arts administration, and human resources from Moravian, and a certification in project management graduate studies from Lehigh. This extensive training, along with a love of art that kept Denise in art clubs and classes during her young adult years, led her into this position at the art galleries, where she has been for twenty-eight years. “If you don’t have fun doing what you do, it’s more of a drudgery,” Denise says in reference to her love for her job. When asked what aspects she loves the most, Denise immediately mentions her volunteers. Some of these volunteers have been with the galleries since the building opened, and Denise describes many of them as “aces.” Another highlight Denise mentions is her experience with the gallery’s children’s workshops; she describes these “future museum-goers” as “enthusiastic and inquisitive.”

For Denise, museums are a place where children and parents can spend quality time; where controversial, interesting, or enlightening conversations can be sparked; where stories can be heard and told; and of course, where great art can be displayed for any viewer. The museum is free-of-charge, and Denise and the rest of the LUAG team make sure to consider every museum-goer of utmost importance. The LUAG constituents are predominantly community members, but Denise explains that there have been continued and active efforts to get more students involved and aware. She points out that Larry Fink’s The Forbidden Pictures was a highly controversial exhibit that sparked strong student interest and subsequent support for the museum.

Denise seems most passionate about the use of art to evoke some sort of emotion. Whether it is distaste, amazement, love, or confusion, one of Denise’s central goals is to provide the community with evocative art. Recent exhibits include Andy in the Valley and Gary Graves’s Just Words. Coming soon to the galleries, to Denise’s excitement, is Anastasia Pantsios’s Girls on Film (1/25–5/25) and Judy Linn’s photographs of Patti Smith (2/20–5/25). Denise and her team work hard to bring exciting and interesting exhibits to the Lehigh Valley. In addition to her work at LUAG, Denise works as a reviewer for United Way and serves on numerous boards and committees; she is vice president of Touchstone Theatre’s board of trustees.

Photo from GargoyleMT via Flickr 

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