On Wednesday, Glasstire’s Rainey Knudson and Kelly Klaasmeyer were given a hard hat tour by the dapper Matt Johns of the Blaffer Museum, and they took the intern along! Me!
As a student of the University of Houston’s painting program, I was itching to look inside the museum after hearing the construction all semester. I thought of the awful faux-rock floor, the lack of natural light, and the dated staircase. Inside, this was all fantastically gone. My peers and I have often commented on the state of the Fine Arts Building, and the new Blaffer remodel will be a huge facelift for the school.
Let’s start with the outside. There will now be a two-story glass facade at the front of the building, with a staircase to go up to the second floor. Guests will no longer have to hunt around for the entrance hiding in the courtyard! The Fine Arts Building itself will also be that much more recognizable.
Have fun sketching that entrance in Intermediate Drawing! Also, nice calm & neutral floors!
The courtyard is getting a facelift as well. The fields of three inch tall shrubbery coating every garden space harboring mosquitoes from Hades? Gone. Some trees will be moved and some larger ones staying put, so you won’t lose your shade and birds. The gardens will be reworked into something more modern and less mosquito-friendly, and there will be a new stage, a screen to host outdoor film screenings, and new tables and chairs to sit at.
Why will there be new tables and chairs? I’m glad you asked. The Blaffer, though still hunting for the right vendor, will be hosting a cafe for students and guests to grab a little bite. Whether it will be a permanent vendor, or a kitchen with changing vendors is yet to be decided, but soon you can have some lunch with your art! They do plan to serve healthy food from local vendors, rather than ushering in another fast food restaurant. The next Red Block Bash is going to be fantastic.
Instead of the old staircase splitting up the gallery space, there will be an elevator to take you to the second floor. Whether there will be an entrance or exit on the second floor is still undecided, but not impossible.
Downstairs and Upstairs, Stairs-No-More!
When it came to the gallery spaces themselves, Blaffer planners consulted with artist Tony Feher to find out what artists want in a space and how to maximize said space. The results are two large exhibition areas, a second floor viewing window looking into the high ceiling space so tall art can be better appreciated, and upstairs a smaller gallery and a gallery for special projects and student shows. I was amazed at how much more room was squeezed out of the original square footage.
There will be glass along this hallway! Also, a new special projects room!
Renovations are looking to be complete at the end of July, and the first show will open October 13th, featuring a retrospective of Tony Feher’s work as well as an artist talk and book signing on October 12th.