Robert Lee Moore Hall

Physics graduate student Frank Lee draws one of his famous white-on-black sketches in the graduate student study lounge in Robert Lee Moore Hall. Lee has been drawing the sketches for five years, and each drawing is more intricate than the last.
Photo Credit: Mariana Gonzalez | Daily Texan Staff

Most of the blackboards in Robert Lee Moore Hall are covered in complex formulas — but the boards commandeered by physics graduate student Frank Lee are covered in an entirely different kind of art.

Lee spends most of his time doing research and holding office hours in the RLM graduate lounge. One day during Lee’s first year, while he was working in the lounge, he took a break and doodled some chalk cartoons on the board. Five years later, he’s still drawing.

Lee’s artwork started out with simple sketches of iconic cartoon characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Ren and Stimpy. Today, he draws detailed photorealistic sketches. One of his last drawings, a portrait of Joseph Stalin, took him about 12 hours to complete.

“I have to make it perfect,” Lee said. “I always have to outdo the last drawing, so it gets more and more time consuming.” 

Before Lee erases each drawing, he uploads a photo of it to his website, “Frank M. Lee’s White-on-black.” 

Some of Lee’s subjects are characters from some of his favorite movies, such as Roger Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon” and Don Corleone from “The Godfather.” 

Others are historical figures — Lee is a self-proclaimed “World War II nut.” Next to his recent portrait of Stalin, Lee satirized one of the politician’s famous quotes: “One physics grad student is tragedy. Two Hundred is statistic.”

“These boards are full of equations and horrible stuff,” Lee said. “So it provides a good contrast to all that misery.” 

Lee’s white-on-black drawings aren’t permanent, and he said he likes it that way. While working on a drawing, Lee writes “do not erase” on the board; after about a month, he erases the drawings himself. 

Lee first learned how to create white-on-black drawings from his high school art teacher, Kathy Stastny. When creating a white-on-black drawing, an artist must shade in the bright areas of a portrait rather than the dark areas. 

“I like it a lot more because with a pencil, it’s not quite black on white — it’s gray on white,” Lee said. “You don’t get as much contrast. The white on black provides a lot of contrast.”

Growing up, Lee always loved sketching. In elementary school, he’d draw maps on anything he got his hands on and made comic books with friends. During class, he’d scribble drawings in his notebooks. At an art exhibit during Lee’s senior year of high school, someone offered to buy his white-on-black drawing of a Vietnam War photo for over a thousand dollars. He said he decided to keep it because he spent nearly 100 hours working on it. 

Lee said he doesn’t want to use his art to make money.

“If I turned it into a job, I think I’d enjoy it a lot less,” Lee said. “If I’m not motivated myself to do it, I probably could never do it.”

Physics graduate student Rick Korzekwa said he has watched Lee’s drawings develop over the years. 

“They make [the room] feel less sterile,” Korzekwa said. “I think the fact that they stay up as long as they do means that people like them. If you look at the boards right now, there’s just a bunch of math on them, so it’s nice to have other stuff
on there.”

Lee said working on his chalk drawings provides him an escape from the stress that comes along with being a graduate student.

“When I’m drawing, I’m not really thinking about anything else,” Lee said. “I’m just focused on making the drawing as good as possible. It enables me to forget about everything else when I’m doing that.”

Machinist Donnie Cannon places a phone call from a recently cleansed area of the RLM’s machine shop. The floor in several rooms of the building’s basement have recently been treated for water damage. 

 

Photo Credit: Aaron Berecka | Daily Texan Staff

Exposed asbestos in Robert Lee Moore Hall was treated Tuesday, but many older UT buildings still have asbestos in their insulation.
The treatment was completed after the fibrous material was found on the third floor, which could have become a hazard to students and faculty.

Asbestos, a group of naturally occurring fibrous materials, was used for insulation in many campus buildings built before the 1980s. It often makes up the insulation around pipes and ceiling tiles and can be found in several types of glues and caulks. 

Chip Rogers, associate director in the department of Environmental Health and Safety, said asbestos is not hazardous if it is undisturbed.

“When the wood flooring warped in the RLM, they took it out and found that there was a substance that is called black mastic under it,” Rogers said. “It is a tar-like substance that often has asbestos in it, so we tested it and found that it did contain asbestos.”

Rogers said that if the floor had not warped then there would have been no reason to remove the asbestos because there would not have been a threat to human safety.

“Asbestos is only a problem if it is dry and in the air,” he said.

Rogers said the University has a well-organized procedure for handling asbestos and said it is usually just removed on an as-needed basis to avoid student exposure.

“If the world was a perfect place, we could go through every building,” Rogers said. “But it is impossible to do that.”

If inhaled, asbestos fibers can penetrate lung tissue and stay in the body, which could lead to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Biology junior Karen Slater said she would not want to be in a room that is polluted and said she is pleased the University treats buildings for asbestos.  

“The side effects of exposure to asbestos last a lifetime,” Slater said. “It’s important to test the levels [of asbestos] and make sure buildings are safe, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Elena Capsuto, assistant director of campus and occupational safety, said it is important to determine when asbestos is a concern, but emphasized that asbestos is not as scary as people make it out to be.

“We have procedures in place that we follow and comply with state regulations,” Capsuto said. “It’s pretty standard, it’s not dealing with anything new. We make sure it is handled properly.”

With $1,500 on the line, 128 competitive gamers from across Texas will gather on UT campus Saturday for the largest collegiate “StarCraft II” tournament yet.

Last fall, UT organization Texas e-Sports Association hosted its first tournament of popular PC strategy game “StarCraft II.” The event brought together 64 players who won $700 in prizes. This year’s tournament, TeSPA Texas Open, offers more than double the amount of prize money, a new venue for spectators and an improved multiple camera video feed of the event that will be broadcast to the spectator room in Robert Lee Moore Hall and online via justin.tv.

The biggest difference, though, is that the UT organization, which only started last fall, will be receiving sponsorship from Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA and Texas Parents.

“This little organization of ours is starting to get some statewide attention,” said Tyler Rosen, aerospace senior and the event’s coordinator.
The tournament’s preliminaries were played exclusively online April 16, but this coming weekend, the players in the top of the tournament’s bracket will go head to head. The tournament, which will last from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be played in front of a live audience and broadcast online through the live streaming website.

Rosen, along with his identical twin brother Adam, formed the group after discovering a new love for “Starcraft II” last summer.

“Everybody plays games or knows somebody who plays games on campus,” said Adam Rosen, an aerospace senior. “Until TeSPA, there really wasn’t place on campus to play games together, improve and even compete.”

Twenty-five people showed up to the organization’s first meeting, but the group quickly grew in size over the months. Currently, the group is a collective of more than 200 UT students who share a passion for competitive gaming, with a focus on acclaimed strategy title “Starcraft II.”

The twin brothers seek to capture the excitement and prestige that live “Starcraft” matches hold in South Korea by improving the spectator experience. Last year, spectators and players were both hosted in the same room in the Academic Annex, next to Robert Lee Moore Hall. This year, spectators will watch the matches from a large projection screen in RLM’s auditorium. In addition to more space, the event will also offer food, raffles for computer hardware, trivia games and stations where console games can be played.

The spectator experience will also see new changes with multiple cameras, live commentary about the matches and interviews with players between games.