Most of our community knows that LHUCA is a visual arts campus, the organizer of the First Friday Arts Trail and creator of such Lubbock arts events as Battle of the Bands and Flatland Film Festival, among many others. As LHUCA is gearing up for its 200th arts trail coming May 7, we thought it would be a perfect time to showcase LHUCA and its founder and namesake, Louise Hopkins Underwood.
Louise was a remarkable woman, dynamic, ambitious, a loving mother and wife and a notoriously strong supporter of the arts. She often said she relied on the 4 P’s – Perseverance, Patience, Presence and Prayer. Her home was used to host multiple musicales and fundraisers for various projects for the Lubbock Symphony, Texas Tech and many others. In 1996, when she was 76 years old, she worked with David Driskell of TTU Urban Tech to collect data on the needs for and interest in building a multipurpose art center in Lubbock. This is where the concept of LHUCA began.
Their research led to the development of the Lubbock Regional Arts Center (later LHUCA). With gifts of a deserted fire station from the City, an icehouse and a truck garage from Dr. Lester Wolcott, the transformation of an almost deserted industrial area into a catalyst for dynamic revitalization for downtown Lubbock began. The campus also would become the cornerstone for the Cultural District.
Communities are always stronger when people work together, and the input and vision of a gallery owner named Charles Adams contributed further to the development of the Cultural District. Charles had a vision of live/work studio spaces for artists who needed a place to live and to sell their work. This unique concept morphed into the Charles Adams Studio Project (CASP). CASP is a strong partner with LHUCA’s work – often collaborating on events and being another vital partner in the First Friday Art Trail.
Louise was the visionary and connector who helped make these relationships possible. People adored her and many donors and friends got behind her vision which allowed her to find great support from donors large and small who “got” what she was trying to achieve for Lubbock. Years later, at the insistence of one donor, the Lubbock Regional Arts Center name was changed to the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts – fondly known today as LHUCA.
Now, 200 Fridays later, on May 7, LHUCA will hold its first live FFAT 6:00-9:00 pm since the sweeping closures due to the COVID19 pandemic. We know EVERYONE has been to a FFAT…but just in case you’ve not, here’s what awaits you. FFAT is a virtual town square with people of all ages from all parts of town and the region gathering to enjoy and celebrate the creativity of West Texas arts.
Held predominantly in the Lubbock Cultural District, this event brings together collectors, artists, and community friends for an evening of art, music and fun. Featuring a variety of art centers, museums, galleries and businesses, FFAT offers an ever-changing array of art exhibits in all media, live music, and other performances. Whether an avid art lover, cultural coinsurer, or just looking for an evening out in a fun, family-friendly environment, First Friday Art Trail offers something for everyone!
This popular event began in 2004, with 13 people and a dog in attendance and has grown to be THE Lubbock thing to do on the first Friday of the month – hosting thousands. For the 15 plus venues on the trail, each venue offers art experiences that are specific to their mission or business. FFAT maps with event listings for each venue can be accessed using the FFAT app, website, or by picking up a paper map at LHUCA.
And for this 200th FFAT, you’ll want to catch each venue as there will be sidewalk chalk murals at key locations including:
- The McDougal Building on Broadway
- Citizen’s Tower
- Glassy Alley
- Buddy Holly Center
- Caviel Museum of African American History
There will also be awards for arts at the LHUCA Plaza stage including the Catalyst, Visual Arts and Performing Arts. These annual awards honor some standouts in the Lubbock arts scene. Finally, The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences and Ballet Lubbock will be new venues beginning at the May FFAT.
The arts scene in Lubbock is close knit, supportive and thriving – what a beautiful legacy that Louise has left us.