UAA’s Student Union Art Gallery has been renamed to honor the late Hugh McPeck, an associate professor of sculpting from 1996 to 2014. The widely viewed gallery now displays pieces of a legacy as well as art.
“Hugh was a longstanding faculty in the art department, and he served on our advisory board for the gallery for many years,” Annie Route, UAA’s Student Life and Leadership Director, said. “It was very sad when he passed away.”
Last spring, Route brought up the idea of renaming the gallery to the Gallery Advisory Board, which consists of mostly faculty from the art department as well as several student managers of the gallery.
Though the proposal was given many positive reviews, it still took a while to get everything ready.
“Everyone was thrilled! You know, it’s hard when someone passes away, you go through the grief and the sadness, and I think we’re still feeling that. However, I think this is a way to celebrate,” Route said. “It took longer, because of summer, and the faculty was gone. Then it was the fall semester, and we had shows… we probably could’ve accomplished it in a much shorter time, but it’s been about a year.”
Route contacted many people, including the art department, UAA facilities and planning and even McPeck’s family.
“Nothing really happened until last spring,” Ann McPeck Gabler, McPeck’s wife, said. “I think Hugh would have been very humbled and very honored with the renaming of the gallery.”
The name of the gallery was officially changed during the Juried Student Art Show earlier this month.
“It’s always good to have a name that means something besides just a location,” Route said.
As an assistant professor of art, McPeck was the head of the sculpture department.
“In the window, the front window, there’s this raven made of iron. Hugh did that, and it’s one of his pieces,” Route said. Instead of displaying McPeck’s portrait in the gallery, Route decided the raven statue would be a better memorial plaque.
“He worked maybe 15 years with the students… and he loved it,” Gabler said. “He really expected excellence from his students, of himself and of his students, and it shows in the work of the gallery.”
The Hugh McPeck Gallery is open for any and all students. It now stands as a symbol of honor to a well-known professor who gave his time for his students, his family and friends and his art.