Destination Spotlight – LHUCA Brings All Forms of Art to Life
The arts scene in Lubbock has been steady and successful for many years, but exploding more recently. If you haven’t visited the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) or experienced the First Friday Art Trail, you’re missing a West Texas gem. We caught up with Tonja Hagy, marketing coordinator for LHUCA, to learn more about the gallery, events and what’s in the future for “Hub City” arts.
1. What is the history of the LHUCA, and what is the facility like today?
LHUCA began as the Lubbock Regional Arts Center (LRAC) in 1997 “to inspire and enrich the Lubbock community by being a catalyst for the arts.” It was obvious that a thriving arts community was imperative to keep local talent in Lubbock. It also was apparent to founder Mrs. Louise H. Underwood and a group of community leaders that Lubbock needed a central location where all disciplines of the arts could come together.
The City of Lubbock deeded over the vacant Fire Department Administration Building to the organization in 2000, in alignment with its goal to encourage the creation of an arts and entertainment district in the downtown area. A capital campaign was launched and the facility was renovated from 2003 – 2005. In 2004, LRAC was renamed the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. Creating this visual and performing arts center in the heart of the future Lubbock Cultural District helped foster a thriving arts community.
Today, LHUCA is recognized as a major contributor to the arts community of Lubbock. By using the arts to stimulate economic development, LHUCA has become the major driving force behind the downtown revitalization plan. The expanded and renovated fire department facility is now the main building of the LHUCA campus. Over 17 years, LHUCA has grown from its initial firehouse building to a sprawling four-block “campus” of nine buildings. Six buildings belong to LHUCA and three are under the direction of gallery owner and visionary Charles Adams. LHUCA has repurposed warehouses and municipal buildings to house galleries, a state-of-the-art theatre, clay studio, a rehearsal hall, event spaces and classroom/studio spaces — totaling 64,000 square feet dedicated to the advancement of the arts. Partnerships with five resident arts organizations enable us to present their performing arts offerings in the Firehouse Theatre.
We have also fostered a supportive arts community that encourages creativity and ingenuity, supports local artists and promotes a culture of arts appreciation that support the careers of artists in Lubbock. Collaborating with Texas Tech University, other non-profits, Charles Adams Projects and commercial galleries, LHUCA was and is the catalyst for an entire new arts market in Lubbock.
2. What makes the LHUCA and Charles Adams Studio Project (CASP) campus facility unique?
We’ve re-purposed and remodeled former municipal buildings to create a unique and modern fine arts campus. One of our goals is to challenge visitors to look at the potential of a building instead of the pitfalls. We are proud of the history of our buildings and the new role those structures are fulfilling in our community. Another thing that makes LHUCA and CASP unique is the variety of working studios that are available to the public. The Helen DeVitt Jones Clay studio (LHUCA), the Helen DeVitt Jones Print Studio (CASP) and the CH Foundation Metals Studio all offer state-of-the-art facilities to, not only working artists, but also those wanting to learn new processes in art.
3. Why is this a must-see for visitors to Lubbock?
LHUCA’s unique content provides creative avenues for insight, learning and fun for all visitors. LHUCA is an important catalyst in the redevelopment of downtown Lubbock and has become the cultural community crossroads. The galleries and studios offer a world-class art experience. The LHUCA and CASP campus is unprecedented in its scope and quality. It is one of the finest facilities of its kind in the southwestern United States.
4. What sets this gallery/facility apart from other attractions?
Quality. We offer an experience usually only found in much larger cities.
5. What are the important annual events that people should know about?
The First Friday Art Trail, offered on the first Friday of every month. It has become part of the culture in Lubbock, and our crowds reflect that. Also, the Flatland Film Festival that is held each October. The series has gained international recognition by filmmakers and industry professionals. The Film Festival offers a wide variety of national independent films. This year’s festival will have a very strong music component. While I can’t reveal the line-up yet, it will be a must attend event! Not only for those who love film, but music lovers as well!
6. Is there anything coming up in the future for the facility?
At LHUCA, we have just finished Phases 2 and 3 of our plaza expansion. We are now looking forward to raising money for an outdoor stage that will serve as a venue for anything from outdoor movie screenings, play productions, small concerts to full-scale music festivals. Also, CASP is in the process of adding a full-scale foundry to its repertoire.
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
The LHUCA galleries are open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday and are free to the public. The Clay Studio offers clay classes throughout the year, and “Taste of Clay” is offered from 6 – 9 p.m. every Thursday. Soon we will be adding a series of Saturday morning art lectures. Check lhuca.org for more details on classes, upcoming lectures and events.