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A handful of speakers and dozens of spectators Tuesday joined in celebrating the completion of Missouri State University’s new art and design complex at Brick City. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann attended the event and has this report.
It was standing room only for those in attendance inside the bright and spacious art gallery, filled with intense black and white drawings on display. Addressing the crowd were Governor Jay Nixon, MSU Board of Governors member Joe Carmichael, Springfield City Council member Jan Fisk, and representatives from MSU. Dr. Gloria Galanes is the dean of the College of Arts and Letters.
“The Art and Design Department occupies 4 of the 5 buildings in the Brick City complex. They [students and faculty] are working in more 85,000 feet of space where there are studios, classrooms for art history, state-of-the art computer labs, critique space and so forth. There are also administrative offices, a supply shop, and two galleries,” says Galanes.
Buildings 3 and 4 first opened as classrooms in 2008 and 2010, while the complex was under renovation. Building 1 opened this year, and is home to the department’s main offices. The Marlin Company Advertising Agency is housed on the third floor of building 3, which Gala nes cites as one example of how area artists and businesses are in close proximity to work together.
“This was home to the Springfield ice and refrigerator company. In 2007 it was announced as the proposed home of the Department of Art and Design. But we had been looking for space for that department for literally decades. After the six years of renovation work, our painters, potters, illustrators, educators and so forth finally can be together. And finally can experience the creative synergy that comes with being in the same space,” Galanes says.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow students, Tawn Dickison says she feels this new facility has so much to offer. Dickison is a non-traditional student studying ceramics, whose passion to work with clay began as a young Girl Scout.
“The facility where our studio spaces were formerly located was in the basement of Hill Hall, in an old swimming pool area called the Foundry, based for its previous use. The Foundry was dark, dirty, and seemed to create dust without the help of the students. The lighting was poor and gave the feeling of being in a dungeon-like atmosphere. We are now all downtown where there is a thriving atmosphere of art. Art allows us to express who we are in the space we live,” Dickison says.
Brick City is part of the IDEA Commons, which Tuesday’s speakers all cited as a positive addition to the downtown Springfield community. Missouri State University President Cliff Smart thanked former president Mike Nitzell for making art a piece of this bigger picture.
“IDEA stands for innovation, design, entrepreneurship and art. I’m not sure everyone would have put the ‘A’ in that group otherwise. And that’s the real genius that Mike brought to this project. What is not typical is the outside-the-box thinking that led to the Art Department to have four incredible brand new renovated buildings,” Smart says.
Renovations at Brick City continue on the fourth floor of building 1, which is slated to house the cooperative Doctor of Pharmacy program between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and MSU. Plans for enrollment in the program are scheduled for fall 2014.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.