UTA Magazine
Appreciating the wonderful world of art

Mark PermenterMaking a snowman with my 2-year-old daughter’s Play-Doh is about the extent of my artistic abilities. Want a laugh? Watch me sketch a magazine layout on a piece of paper.

Those who know me well would never describe me as artsy. But my fervor for art has appreciated like a valuable painting in the past few years. Chalk it up to being surrounded by an artistic staff.

The Department of Art and Art History has also been gaining in value lately. With the opening this summer of the Studio Arts Center, UTA’s art programs are enjoying the spotlight like never before.

The day that writer Sherry Neaves and I toured the new center was a momentous one for Don Beck. Minutes before he began showing us around on that steamy July afternoon, Beck had received the last delivery of equipment for the $5 million facility near Maverick Stadium.

“As near as we can tell, that’s the last load to come over here,” he said, pointing to the moving van. “This is an auspicious moment.”

Especially for Beck, an adjunct assistant professor and skilled neon glass artist who oversaw the transfer of thousands of items from the Fine Arts Building to the industrial-type metal structure. These weren’t normal items. Most didn’t fit neatly into boxes that could be stacked four up on a dolly.

Take the 40-cubic-yard gas kiln used for ceramics. This three-ton monster required a special forklift and flatbed truck. There were other kilns for the ceramics and glass programs as well as severa1 900-pound steel plates and dozens of 30- to 800-pound lithostones for printmaking.

Imagine moving a house full of pianos and multiplying the effect by 100. In Olympic terms, this undertaking featured a maximum degree of difficulty.

Now fully equipped, the 35,000-square-foot building brims with students creating art in neon, glass, clay, printmaking, metals, sculpture and painting studios. Problems that plagued the old facilities—poor ventilation, toxic hazards—are history. All the fumes generated are sucked out by an automatic system.

We in University Publications were intimately familiar with another of the problems the former Fine Arts Building locations posed: noise pollution. My office shared a wall with the metals studio. Most mornings, the clanking, banging and tapping began shortly after 8 and reverberated down the hall where other publications staffers officed.

It’s much quieter now. A peaceful two-dimensional design class has moved into the old digs.

But UTA’s art programs are still making noise. The department is becoming what Chairman Andy Anderson calls a “destination” for students. Translation: Art students from across the nation—even the world—are seeking out UTA.

I’d like to enroll myself. But I can’t find Play-Doh 101 in the course schedule.

— Mark Permenter

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