The artistic creativity and craftsmanship of Upper Iowa University students are already on exhibit at the Peacock Arts and Athletic Center (PAAC) and the art of the swing will soon follow. The newly leased building has created an exciting space for two- and three-dimensional art, and the UIU baseball, softball and golf teams will soon take up residency in the 30,000-sq.-ft. facility.
UIU announced the low-cost lease agreement of the former Ideal Industries building in April 2017. In addition to the large building, the five-year lease-transfer agreement includes the six-acre property located just south of Harms-Eischeid Stadium at Fayette Campus. Following the end of the lease agreement, the building will be donated to the University.
“The PAAC offers our students ‘more,’” UIU Assistant Professor of Art Laura Gleissner said. “We now have more room for working, more exhibition space, more of what a larger university’s arts program can offer students, faculty and the entire community. By allowing students to observe other ongoing studio classes and work in a wider range of mediums, the PAAC provides for greater opportunities to collaborate and network across the 2-D and 3-D studio areas.”
“In addition to now having a more functional environment in which to explore multiple media, we have ample space to expand even further,” UIU Associate Professor of Art Elissa Wenthe said. “My hope is that we will be able to expand offerings outside of the UIU classrooms and provide community education courses, along with summer art camps for high school students.”
This fall the new facility allowed for the ceramics and sculpture courses to be held during the same session for the first time in UIU history. Students utilize the wood and metal shops to create even larger and more dynamic sculptures. Ceramic students have the space to spread out along several tables and can now use a gas kiln that had been in storage for a decade at UIU.
Additional 2017-18 class offerings at the PAAC include drawing, figure drawing, painting, advanced painting, ceramic pottery and screen printing. Wenthe noted the environmental art students utilized the five acres of land that sits behind the building this past fall as an outdoor classroom. In the future, all painting, drawing, printmaking, environmental art, wheel throwing and handbuilding courses will be held in the PAAC.
“We have not only witnessed an increase in first-time art students due to the new facility and expanded programming, but we have seen more collaboration between students during the first two sessions of this year than they have ever done in the nine years I have been teaching here,” Wenthe said. “Facilities are a key component to recruiting art students, and we now have the facilities that will entice and retain students. We want the PAAC to be used by the Art and Athletic departments throughout the year. It is a place Peacock art students and student-athletes can truly call home.”
“We have a great group of student-athletes in our art classes already and we hope to build more connections with them in the future,” added Gleissner. “I’m excited that Athletics will soon move into the building and see the different connections that can be made between the Art and Athletic departments.”
Understandably, the biggest benefit to the baseball, softball and golf teams is a program-specific space for year-round practices. Batting cages, complete with turf, and an indoor putting green and chipping course will make this one of the largest indoor facilities in Iowa. Each of the athletic teams will also enjoy individual offices and personalized storage lockers.
“The PAAC provides our student-athletes a facility to train in 24/7,” UIU Men’s and Women’s Golf Coach Michael Lewis said. “Development is key to the success of any athletic program and this facility will help in this manner. Having an indoor facility to showcase during the recruitment of our student-athletes will also be a great benefit to our coaching staffs.”
Noting that the coaching staffs and athletic equipment will begin moving into the building in January, Lewis reiterated the benefits that the PAAC provides to the entire University.
“This facility will play a key role in recruiting and retaining all students,” Lewis said. “Both the Athletic and Art departments will be able to promote community outreach programs, camps and other activities to help showcase UIU to people of all ages.”
UIU continues to raise funds for the PAAC upgrades. Naming opportunities are available for an art studio, indoor turf, batting cages, putting green, tee boxes, pins and holes, lockers and offices. Persons wishing to further support the Peacock baseball, softball, golf and art programs, should visit uiu.edu/PAAC.