Archives for June 2013

Bryan City Council Tours the IU

Special thanks to Bryan City Council for visiting the Innovation Underground yesterday. We are fortunate to have such wonderful partners. We look forward to many more visits.

Bryan City Council Visits the Innovation Underground

The Innovation Underground Welcomes the SEAD Academy!

Last week we kicked off our first ever SEAD Academy classes, and if the smiles on the faces our inaugural students were any indication, they were a hit. Classes this summer are being led by local artist, Le Hale. As I stepped into the room to see what was underway, I could sense that I had crossed a threshold. I was no longer in the basement of the old Federal Building. No, I had entered another world entirely, full of energy and enthusiasm from both Le and the kids.

Le explained to me that they were wrapping up some projects and beginning to move on to their next skill. All around the room, careful hands were applying broad strokes of color to canvases. These broad strokes are a technique used in “painterly” style paintings. The term “painterly” references a style of painting where paint is applied in such a way that each brush stroke is visible to the eye. The intention of this technique, Hale reminds her little artists, “is to let the viewer’s eye do the work.” Though “painterly” may not be a term many are familiar with, the style of painting is closely associated with “impressionist” painting, which focuses more on capturing the essence of something rather than attempting to recreate it.

Van Gogh is considered by many the father of the painterly style for his use of the technique in works such as “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.” As I browse their workspace, many of the children are working intently on their versions of floral themed still-life painterly pieces. Hale instructs the children to remember: “the trick is to keep from mixing the paints too much – you want each layer of color to dry before adding another one.”

Le’s direction does not fall on deaf ears. It is often said that “children are sponges” and this group is no different. As I circled the room one last time, I am impressed with how deftly they are applying their newly acquired skills. Admiring their work, I couldn’t help but muse that some day in the not so distant future – one of these kids might be a featured artist in a gallery like SEAD’s.


IU Hosts Distinguished Visitors from the National Academy of Sciences and Texas A&M’s Visualization Department

Innovation Undergound recently had the pleasure of giving a tour of our facilities to Carol LaFayette, Associate Professor in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University and her guest JD Talasek, Director of Cultural Programs for the NAS. Both Carol and JD have made a living out of exploring the relationship between visual culture and other disciplines such as science and medicine. Talasek pursued the arts in his higher education career, receiving an M.F.A. in Studio Arts from the University of Delaware, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, and a B.S. in Photography from East Texas State University” (Wright State University Website). In his time with the NAS, Talasek has begun to focus more on the interconnections between art and the various disciplines of science.

Some of Talasek’s other work includes exhibitions such as the National Academy of Sciences, Visionary Anatomies, which toured through the Smithsonian Institution in 2004 through 2006; Absorption + Transmission: Work by Mike and Doug Starn; The Tao of Physics: Photographs by Arthur Tress; and Cycloids: Paintings by Michael Schultheis.

Likewise, Carol LaFayette is no stranger to the national art scene. She has had collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and Microcinema International.” To say that these two are leaders in their respective fields would be an understatement – pioneers would be more accurate.

While touring the Innovation Underground, JD and Carol also had the chance to see the SEAD Gallery, which seeks to explore the relationships between Science, Engineering, Art and Design. Currently, SEAD is expanding their scope with its summer SEAD Academy classes, which provide kids ages K-12 instruction from local artist, Le Hale, giving them an outlet for creative expression. For more design-minded children, SEAD Academy will be offering a week-long experience in July called Camp Innovation. Kids in attendance will have the opportunity to explore the SEAD disciplines through robotics, creative writing, and urban farming.

These classes are just a small part of what SEAD is doing to strengthen the bonds between the disciplines of Science, Engineering, Art and Design. With JD and Carol’s extensive experience in this budding field, we look forward to the continued exchange of ideas with these valuable partners and to the continued growth of SEAD both in the US and internationally.


Kopecky Family Band visits the IU

Recently we had some acclaimed visitors tour the Innovation Underground. You may recognize them from their hand-clapping, foot-tapping good performance on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Or you may have been one of the many people who endured the Texas heat to see them at Free Press Summer Fest.

Yes, that IS Kopecky Family Band. No they aren’t literally a family, but you wouldn’t know it from spending time with them. This down-to-earth group of friends have grown closer than most families over the years. What binds them is not a shared last name, but the shared passion of creating music. Later in the evening at Grand Stafford Theater, Kelsey, the band’s female vocalist, would share with the intimate crowd that she and her band mates make music to “bring people together.” That’s a cause we can relate to here at Innovation Underground.

While, we don’t do it with soaring choruses or honest to God heartfelt lyrics, we most definitely seek to “bring people together.” Musicians. Programmers. Graphic designers. Artists. Non-profit pioneers. Photographers. We look for any and all who are driven by a passion to create and forge new paths. As a private business incubator, Innovation Underground has the freedom to hand-pick our “clients,” although, we prefer to think of them as co-partners in the development of a community of inspired thinkers and creators.

One of the benefits of our diverse range of resident-businesses is the opportunity it creates for collaboration and cooperation. We believe that through the sharing of ideas and talents, a better product emerges than when those products are developed in isolation. While it is true that Innovation Underground provides a service to our incubated businesses, they also provide a service to one another – the service of inspiration. At IU, we are not just a business incubator, but a facilitator of a culture of innovation. We are not here merely to provide a physical space, but also to infuse that space with as much creativity as possible.

This creativity is manifested in the people who have chosen to use our space as a launching point for their business. And it IS a launching point. Our greatest desire is to see a business outgrow their space here. While it’s bittersweet to see old friends move on, the beauty of it is that as they do, they create space for new businesses to take their place. It’s not long before the void left behind will explode with life and energy from new ideas and new faces. And that energy is what sustains us. That is why we do what we do.