Hundreds of UA Little Rock supporters got a first look inside the Windgate Center of Art + Design on Feb. 16 at the signature event CRE8, honoring the Windgate Charitable Foundation for its gift that made the center possible.
Windgate gave $20.3 million to build the center, which houses all of the university’s art and design programs. More recently, Windgate gave an additional $603,000 of which $425,000 will be used to endow the Windgate Professorship in Art and Design, a permanent, tenure track position. Of the remaining money, $103,000 will support a visiting artist-in-residence for two years in contemporary crafts, and $75,000 is dedicated for gallery program and support.
CRE8, presented by Affirmative Risk Management, drew more than 350 people and raised more than $92,000 with proceeds earmarked for scholarships for art and design students.
“This gift is not just a building, it is an opportunity for us to make a huge difference in the lives of our students,” Tom Clifton, interim dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences told the crowd. “It is a chance to give them pathways they wouldn’t otherwise have and change their lives and their futures.”
CRE8 also showcased the many types of creative work taking place daily in the center, from ceramics and 3D design to furniture design. In the yard foundry, Sculpture Art Professor Michael Warrick demonstrated a bronze pour twice during the evening. Visitors saw woodworking, metalsmithing, blacksmithing, jewelry making and ceramics, while other faculty conducted demonstrations in photography, portrait lighting, 3D prints and laser, character animation, graphic design and painting.
Visitors explored the center’s two galleries that house works from UA Little Rock Permanent Collection and the visiting exhibit “Discovering Kate Freeman.”
While most visitors expected to see lots of art, but most didn’t expect to take home a piece. Instead, some visitors left with one of the more than 200 “spirit houses” created by UA Little Rock sculpture art professor Michael Warrick and UA Little Rock art faculty and students.
The wooden houses came boxed with a simple explanation: “Each unique house is given as an expression of appreciation for the special and kind gesture of supporting the creative spirit.”
Warrick has made hundreds of the houses over the past 20 years to give friends and family as a thank-you of sorts. The project started when his wife had serious complications during childbirth. To thank the many friends and family who helped them, he gave a simple wooden house he crafted. He thought the spirit houses would be a perfect way to say thanks to the university supporters who attended Friday night’s ticketed event.
Using scraps of hardwood, faculty members Peter Scheidt and Julia Baugh helped Warrick cut, sand, and glue the wood pieces. Graphic design professor Kevin Cates designed the Windgate Center for Art + Design logo. Andy Huss, a local sculptor, volunteered time sanding and clear coating the pieces. Graphic design student Chassidy Siratt laser-cut a Windgate Center logo on the bottom of each house, and Warrick individually numbered the houses – like art collector pieces.
In photo top right: Former and current chairs of the Department of Art from the past 30 years attended CRE8 on Feb. 16 to celebrate the Windgate Center for Design + Art. From left: Don Van Horn (1988-93), Floyd Martin (1994-95), Jane Brown (1996-98), Win Bruhl (1998-2013), Tom Clifton (2013-2016), Mia Hall (2016-2017), and Carey Roberson (2017-present).