Wednesday marks the grand opening of the Art Lofts facility at UW-Madison. What was once a former university warehouse at 111 N. Frances Street now holds the weeklong series of presentations accompanies the celebration, in addition to demonstrations, tours and student art sales from 1:30-5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. All events are free and open to the public.
Begun in 2004, the Art Lofts facility is a collaborative effort by the university's Art Department, the UW-Madison School of Education and the architectural/engineering firm Hammel, Green and Abrahamson of Milwaukee. Completed in December 2008, the $9.2 million renovation consolidated many of UW's art programs, facilities and studios that were previously scattered in storefronts and various campus buildings.
"One thing that really pushed the issue was that the spaces the art department used to display the art were needed for other things," says Kerry Hill, communications coordinator for the School of Education. "There was definitely a need to move all these studios and programs. The warehouse seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring all these facilities together in one spot."
And together they came, framed by the four red steel light towers that give the Art Lofts its distinct aesthetic. The "Performance Lab" in the central corridor is designed to accommodate exhibits for audiences of more than 90. High ceilings and skylights add natural light and a feeling of openness to both faculty and graduate-student studio spaces. (View photos of the inside and outside of the Lofts in a Facebook gallery shot by Hill.)