On Sept. 22, 2018, the city of Eau Claire saw the opening of Pablo Center at the Confluence, a performing arts center featuring an impressive 1,200-seat Broadway-style theatre, a large black-box theatre, a variety of art galleries, labs for sound and lighting production, and much more.
Since its beginnings, the Pablo Center has prided itself on its dedication to working alongside UW-Eau Claire students to foster an environment that “helps shine a brighter spotlight on talented Blugolds — and allows them to stretch their creative wings even further,” according to the center's website.
One Blugold stretching her creative wings at Pablo Center is senior studio art major Alex Gehl.
Determined to find a project she was passionate about to fulfill her UW-Eau Claire service-learning requirement, Gehl sat down with one of her professors in the art department to brainstorm some possible ideas. This, Gehl says, is when she formulated the idea of working with Pablo Center.
When asked what a typical day at the center looks like for her, Gehl noted that the best part of her service project is that there is no typical day at all.
“Each day can be completely unique," Gehl said. "There are days when I go in and help organize their spaces, art, materials and tools to help keep things efficient and orderly; and there are other days where I go through their collection of permanent works and curate series of pieces to be hung around Pablo Center, hopefully to create inspiring spaces that help foster creativity for employees, students and the community,”
As an art student, Gehl has long been familiar with the importance of the visual arts. However, it was not until she began her service-learning project that she truly began to notice the immense impact that art can have on a community.
“Even through the short amount of time I have been there, I have seen and experienced just how important and influential art can be and how it can change the way one looks at and experiences a space,” she said.
Yet a deeper appreciation for the impact of art is not the only thing Gehl’s project has taught her. The value of hard work and dedication is an integral part of the Pablo experience.
“I have also learned that it is hard work, and at times challenging, to work with and within the arts, but it is so impactful for anyone and everyone who experiences it,” Gehl said.
Despite the strong focus she has placed on art and hard work, Gehl noted that the most memorable experience of her project has not been the art, but the people.
“The most memorable experience for me throughout this project has been working closely with my supervisor, Rose, in the beautiful new Pablo Center. I am so glad that I have had this opportunity,” Gehl said.
It's an opportunity, Gehl admitted, she has been waiting for since the moment she heard that Pablo Center was in the works.
“Since I found out that the city would be building this new space for artists, performers and the community, I knew I wanted to be involved somehow, and this has been the most amazing way to do that," she said. "Working with my supervisor and the Pablo Center has taught me so much about a field I hope to be a part of one day, and I am extremely grateful for that.”