On Friday, February 16, the newest addition to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus will host the Capital City’s most visually stunning student scholarship fundraiser – CRE8.
At this inaugural event, hosted in the newly completed Windgate Center of Art + Design, a 64,000-square-foot visual arts facility, guests will have the opportunity to experience a variety of art demonstrations – including painting, ceramics and bronze pours from the only fine arts foundry in the region – live. The Windgate Center features custom studios + workshops for visual arts students, two art galleries, an 80-seat lecture hall and more, and UA Little Rock students and faculty are eager to demonstrate the building’s capabilities.
Food and beverage stations with refreshments courtesy of Trio’s, Roxor Artisan Gin, PopATop and Flyway Brewing will be placed throughout the building to encourage guests to explore the creative space.
The Windgate Center of Art + Design was funded by a grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, whose principal goal is to provide funding to educational programs and institutions that advance the arts. CRE8 is a component of UA Little Rock’s partnership with the foundation – the university has committed to providing $3 million in art student scholarships.
We sat down with Joe Lampo, UA Little Rock Director of Development and External Relations for the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences, for his perspective on the building and CRE8.
IA: What’s the buzz around campus about the Windgate Center?
Joe Lampo: Students are really happy to be in the new building. Students taking art history classes like the flexibility of the classroom and the audio/visual equipment in it. Students in small metals really like the size of the studios and process rooms, and the clerestory windows that wrap all the way around the 3D studios building. Students in the drawing studios think the windows are great.
IA: What features do you love most about the facility?
JL: This is a tough question, because there are so many great features to the Windgate Center of Art + Design. Overall presence of the building on the northeast corner of the UA Little Rock campus. The Windgate Center is a 3-story tower connected by administrative space, main lobby and main gallery to a single-story, high-bay industrial-style structure. Because it is partially constructed of onyx brick, it is a real architectural standout. Additionally, the whole building is very student friendly. The large step-like area between the lower lobby and the main lobby is a great student hangout area; the main lobby has three bright orange whimsical Spun Chairs designed by Thomas Heatherick (the Cooper Hewitt has one of these in its permanent collection); there’s a student lounge; and one of my favorite spaces in the WCAD is the reading room. It has very cool circle light fixtures, felt-padded walls (to make the room quiet), furniture with electrical outlets and USB ports in their bases, lemon-lime molded plastic pull-up chairs and, again, great windows—a floor to ceiling end wall of them.
IA: What impact will the Windgate Center have on UA Little Rock?
JL: The basic thing it will do is attract top art students in this region to the UA Little Rock art and design program and thereby increase the overall student enrollment. The applied design program is the only one of its kind in the state and region, and the new and very well organized applied design studios make it the best place to learn furniture design, metalsmithing and jewelry, ceramics and sculpture. It will also attract people from the community to see the exhibits in the two art galleries, hear the lectures offered on a regular basis and participate in the special workshops that are offered three or four times a year. The building and its outfitting were fully funded by a grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation – we are grateful for this gift and proud of the building and educational opportunities it provides.
IA: How will the Windgate Center add value to the city and state?
JL: Besides being a venue for lectures and other art-making related events, it will attract a region-wide talented student population. And students studying here and graduating from the unique program here will be part of the workforce in Little Rock and the state.
IA: What are you looking forward to at CRE8?
JL: I am most looking forward to seeing attendees being surprised and impressed by the Windgate Center of Art + Design, what a handsome building it is and how well designed it is for its purpose. I am also looking forward to seeing faculty, students and graduates of the department of art + design working in the studios demonstrating what actually routinely takes place in them.
IA: Would CRE8 make for a good date night?
JL: Definitely. There will be great food and beverages, including RoxoR’s specialty drink, a Spanish Gin and Tonic that has hibiscus concentrate in it, and live music throughout the building, as well as demonstrations in the studios, painting, photography, wood, printmaking, graphic design, illustration, ceramics, sculpture and metalsmithing.
IA: How close is UA Little Rock to reaching the $3 million art student scholarship goal?
JL: I am gratified to say we are over a third of the way there. We have raised over $1 million. This fundraiser is important to help us reach our scholarship endowment goal. All proceeds from sponsorships and ticket sales will go directly to the art student scholarship endowment.
Photography by Dero Sanford