In the tradition of makerspaces like The Crucible in Oakland, CA, Lubbock has a budding arts community space, ULabs Makerspace (the U stands in for “ubiquitous”). This is a boon for the Hub City, where students, professionals, and novices alike can have access to an inventive community and the tools and space to bring that creativity to fruition. *Note: Texas Tech University Library also has a makerspace , available to current students, faculty and staff.
ULabs Makerspace (Street View) on 50th between Quaker and Memphis
Once I found the location, hidden away behind MG Jewelry Designers on 50th street, the founder Leen Borno and her manager Yousef Melhem gave me the tour. The various facilities tout a conference/gallery space, jewelry fabrication room, a bio lab, and a workshop and computer room complete with a laser cutter, welder, 3D printer, lathe, plasma cutter, and mill. As we talk, I learn that Leen developed this space due to a profound need she felt to offer sanctuary, in the form of erudition.
A nurturing mother-figure, Leen holds and coos at my daughter as we walk around the space, proudly talking about her collaborators, one being botanist/artist Peter Keltz. I spoke to him (he was outside in the ULabs zen garden brushing up some landscaping) about his experience with Leen. He said ULabs incubated him, allowing him to show his work in exhibitions as well as hold a “pop-up” plant shop on the weekends. Soon he will be opening his own shop next to J&B Coffee Co. in Tech Terrace. Other collaborations include national maker fairs with Barnes and Nobles, as well as working with local middle- and highschools.
All in all, ULabs seems to be one of the best-kept secrets in Lubbock, offering services, space, and tools to people of all ages and art pedigrees. For now, they are open during select times and during the First Friday Art Trail, but Leen would love to be available 24 hours a day. During the grand opening, Friday, September 23rd from 8 PM - Midnight, ULabs will show the Hub City what they offer: meaning memberships (starting at $15), classes, and equipment rentals. Don’t miss it!