Heller Center explains expansion ideas, hosts 50-year book event

Feb. 2, 2015

Evan Musick
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Tucked away behind the overflow parking lot across the street from Trader Joe’s lies the secluded Heller Center. Owned by UCCS, the center provides a venue for art exhibits, concerts, lectures and meetings.

The Heller Center was donated in 1999 by Larry and Dorothy Heller. The center was originally their home. Larry was an artist from Philadelphia while Dorothy was the first woman officer of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

The home was donated to UCCS by Dorothy to carry on Larry’s eclecticism and Dorothy’s sense of helping others.

Currently, the center has several works in progress to increase exposure, including physical expansion.

“We are limited by the terms of the gift by Mrs. Heller about how much we can build here,” said Perrin Cunningham, curator and director of public programs. “Right now, we can build approximately five thousand square feet.”

One of the areas of the master plan calls for a space that can seat 100-120 people that can be used for anything ranging from lectures to performances, dance, music and film.

Cunningham also mentioned the possibility of more studio space to be used for pottery, weaving, old fashioned photography and print making. An archive and research space is also desired.

Much of this growth is to occur within the next three to five years.

A small garden is also on the grounds and is used to teach students about gardening. A greenhouse is also part of the center’s future plans.

More trails, better signage, a small catering kitchen and coffee bar are also a few things Cunningham believes will make the Heller Center more attractive.

Suzanne MacAulay, professor and chair of visual and performing arts, mentioned that a trip to the center during student orientation would increase the center’s exposure. Offering incentives for professors to hold classes at the center is also an idea.

In November, The Heller Center held an event that celebrated “Discovering Place, A UCCS Field Guide.” The event invited Tom and Carole Huber, who edited and authored the book, along with other contributors and friends to celebrate with live music, food and companionship.

“Discovering Place, A UCCS Field Guide,” celebrates 50 years of UCCS. Cunningham mentioned that the event was so successful that attendees had to be strongly reminded of the time to leave.

Peak FreQuency, a resident organization of the music program of the Visual and Performing Arts Department has held various concerts at the center. MacAulay recalled one of their outdoor performances in August, 2012.

“People that came, both from UCCS and the community just raved about it,” she said.

Recordings ranging from bird songs to train whistles were accompanied by musical pieces that were composed by the individual artists. The performance, along with the location of the center resulted in a successful concert.

No more than 120 people are allowed to visit the Heller Center at one time. This is due to available space, the surrounding neighborhood and a rare blend of Colorado grasses that covers the center’s front lawn.

Several upcoming events include concerts by Peak FreQuency, hikes throughout the open space and various lectures in April. For more information and a schedule of events, see the Heller Center’s website: http://www.uccs.edu/~heller/.