‘Transition’ art exhibition will pay tribute to Hugh McPeck

After recently being renamed in honor of the late Hugh McPeck, the art gallery in UAA’s Student Union will host a tribute show to its namesake. “Transition” will feature work by McPeck’s former students and colleagues inspired by the influential artist and educator.

The opening reception on Thursday, Aug. 31 will feature speakers including McPeck’s wife, Anne Gabler, and recently retired Student Life and Leadership Director Annie Route, who helped bring about the gallery renaming.

A McPeck raven statue will be given a permanent home in the gallery, and attendees can eat some of his favorite foods.

“This is kind of a celebratory exhibition,” said Steve Godfrey, department chair of art at UAA.

McPeck was a professor at UAA who taught sculpting from the mid-nineties until his death in 2014.

“He really expected excellence from his students, of himself and of his students, and it shows in the work of the gallery,” Gabler told The Northern Light in April.

He was known for his one-of-a-kind personality and left a lasting impression on those he worked with.

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“He had quite an influence on the community regarding the work he made, and then his abilities as a mentor and professor,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey recalls arriving at UAA back in 1998 and McPeck was one of the first professors he met. He remembers the feeling of community McPeck inspired in the studio despite the range of students and abilities. He had strong opinions, but would back people up.

“He was very, very unique. Very tough. He stood his ground,” Godfrey said.

Enzina Marrari, curator for the Municipality of Anchorage’s 1 Percent For Art program and a former student of McPeck’s, told Alaska Dispatch News that McPeck taught her discipline and how to push herself as an artist. He even seemed to know her voice as an artist before she did.

“He had this kind of magic,” Marrari told ADN last year.

While McPeck taught sculpting, he was well-rounded in his artistic abilities. He worked with metal, wood, oil paints and was an excellent craftsman. His work can be seen all over Anchorage in one form or another. The pieces featured in “Transition” will be a diverse mix of styles that will represent just how far McPeck’s influence seeped into those he came into contact with.

“He cared a lot about his students and his colleagues and so I think that kind of feeling will emanate from the exhibition,” Godfrey said.

“Transition” runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 14. The opening reception is Aug. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. and a Second Friday event will be held Sept. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.