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UHV moves painting, game design courses downtown

By Carolina Astrain , CAROLINA ASTRAN
Aug. 30, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2014 at 7:39 p.m.

The Kreisle building in downtown Victoria is the new home of the University of Houston-Victoria Center for the Arts.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: University of Houston-Victoria digital gaming presentation

WHEN: 7:30 a.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Victoria Economic Development Corp. Partnership meeting, 700 N. Main Center, Suite 104

Downtown Victoria will be home to another higher learning institution this fall.

The University of Houston-Victoria and the Junior League of Victoria have agreed to a one-year lease with the option to buy and a $3,000-a-month rental rate, university officials confirmed Friday.

"I was looking for space to do studio art and drawing," said Jeffrey Di Leo, UHV dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "We don't have space on campus, and just by happenstance, the Children's Discovery Museum was available, and it worked out."

Painting, drawing, typography and video game design will be taught in the UHV Center for the Arts at the L.G. Kreisle building, next door to the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts, owned by Victoria College.

"JLV members have long been strong supporters of the arts in our community, and we are thrilled that UHV chose the Kreisle building as the location to start its new art program," said Sara Hounshell Meinhart, Junior League of Victoria president.

University officials will give a presentation on their video game design program at a Victoria Economic Development Corp. partnership meeting Tuesday.

"This is a really great opportunity for us," said Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost. "Hopefully, we can also work with Victoria College in funneling some of their art students into a degree program so they can continue their education."

Tom Butler, Victoria College president, said he wanted to learn more about the move before providing public comment Friday.

The offering of fine arts courses is new to the growing, four-year university, which expanded its course offerings to freshmen and sophomores in 2010.

"We're trying to help out the arts scene here and give the community some additional access to the arts," Cass said. "I'm hopeful that we'll be able to create some minors and eventually majors in the fine arts."

Jake Ramirez and Anthony Pedone, who both represent the Victoria Film Exchange, were both excited to hear about their new neighbors.

"It's going to be great because digital gaming is another art form a lot of people don't really know much about," Ramirez said. "Hopefully, we'll be partnering with them."

Ramirez said he would eventually like to see the university develop a film program.

The previous tenant, the Children's Discovery Museum, has plans to move into the former Playhouse Theatre located on Sam Houston Drive.

"We are very excited to see more presence downtown by our universities," said Pedone, director of the Victoria TX Indie Film Fest. "There most definitely needs to be a film program offered here in Victoria."

Pedone and Ramirez have secured six walls - a total of 35,000 square feet - in downtown Victoria for a public art walking tour and film screening event called BACK to BACK, which will be Sept. 29 through Oct. 6.

Earlier this summer, graffiti art was removed from one of the outside walls of the Kreisle building after its owners said the art made it difficult to sell the building.

The graffiti art was done as part of Pedone's film festival.

"I hope that UHV would be interested in talking to us including that wall again," Pedone said. "We would paint that wall during Bootfest, and we are already setting up vendors there. It would be really cool to use the wall."

Eventually, Di Leo said, the university hopes to purchase the building in full and is looking for interested donors.

"One of the biggest challenges we've dealt with in the School of Arts and Sciences is integrating the fine arts into our curriculum in an economically responsible way. This expansion gives us the opportunity to do that," Di Leo said. "When all those events are going on downtown, we'll have our door open, and that's important."

Cass said he believes public art would be a good fit for UHV.

"Art doesn't have to be eternal," Cass said. "The wall could serve as a nice public art space for students and the community."

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