Good News! I was awarded a SACI Grant by the City of Houston to produce new work.
Lisa Harris and I are having a conversation about Art, Activism, Politics, and other suches at the Galveston Arts Center.
A special thank you to lead curator Sunil Gupta, Steven Evans, Jennifer Ward, Vinod Hopson, Annick Dekiouk, Mayra Mares, Marta Sanchez Philippe, and the entire team at FotoFest!
A special shout out to the Joan Mitchell Foundation for awarding me an Emergency Artist’s Grant & to the Texas Artists Strong Grant. I am so very grateful.
My video, White Wash, is currently included in a public art program by the City of Houston called Art Blocks. If you are in Downtown in the next few months, it is on the corner of Main Street & Dallas.
Hurricane Harvey, My Personal Story:
I live and make art in Houston and teach art at Lamar University in Beaumont Texas. The effects of this storm have hit all aspects of my personal, professional, and artistic lives.
On August 27th, my father’s birthday, we had the waters rise to our front door. My father passed away in 2014 and my mother, who my wife and I care for in our home, had planned to go visit the cemetery where he is buried to say a prayer for him. That morning we couldn’t venture out. The waters left no glimpse of a road, of any land. The waters receded only to rise for a second time. The night before, one of our cars was moved to the backyard in hopes of avoiding the flood waters. The other had to remain in the driveway. Watching the drama of water rising and falling, all we could do was hope for the best. My wife and fellow artist, Britt Thomas, was busy making emergency plans for how to move my elderly mother who walks with a cane.
Once the streets in the neighborhood were clear of water, Britt and I opened the car to find it mostly dry. A little water in the trunk but not into the cabin. We drove to our studio down the road to see if any water had entered that space. It remained dry. Luckily, the landlord had just placed a new roof on the building the week before due to severe leaks entering the building. We were relieved. The city was still shutdown. Nothing open, grocery stores lay bare. We hunkered down at home for a couple of more days. When cabin fever finally kicked in and we lost the taste for another frozen meal, Britt and I decided to venture out to try and bring home some lunch for us and mother. As we were getting in the car, it occurred to me that we should check my art storage unit that housed about 25 years of my professional work. My entire professional life’s work. The storage unit I don’t frequent as often as our home or studio; so it was out of sight, out of mind.
We drove down along White Oak Bayou, which is just west of our house, and was amazed how high the water remained. Turning right on to 34th St., we could see the rushing waters of the bayou rapidly moving south. Entering the climate controlled building that housed my art storage, we were feeling pretty good. The entrance was dry. We turned left down the hallway to my unit and noticed that water remained in the center of the hallway. My unit was in the center of this hallway.
We came to my door, unlocked the latch, and raised up the door to find water. Apparently the building had flooded and the concrete floor to the building was in the shape of a gradual “V”, where the ends of the hallway are higher then the middle. The middle is where my unit sits in the valley of water.
I have to say at this point, I don’t remember much. I was in shock. Thank god my wife, Britt Thomas, was there to take over. She immediately went into action, contacting people, gathering supplies, and organizing how to move all the art. I was simply a body that was being told what to do. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t fathom the loss that I was seeing in front of me. As far as my art goes, between Britt Thomas, Shane Platt, Caleb Sims, Torie Shelton, and Butch Jack we managed to pump out about 20 Shop-Vac containers of water out of the storage unit, and move all the art to our studio to dry. Thank you to these special people for giving me the gift of their time and strength, both physical & emotional.
You won’t believe this but after two days – when we were finally finished – finished with moving the art, finished emotionally and spent physically… Britt & I are driving home after unloading the last of the artworks at night and I run over Harvey debris, a steel bar, and we get a flat tire. It just seemed so appropriate. It was too late in the evening and I didn’t have the patience to fight with those freakin’ lug nuts in the night so we came back in the morning to change it.
What can you do but Laugh!
As of now it looks like roughly 30% of my work is damaged. Some artworks have tiny water lines along the bottom. I call them my Harvey Survivors and they will be placed in the archives as a record of this moment. Thirty-percent might not sound like much but when you times it by 25 years worth of working, it hurts. Time will tell as things dry if this number goes even higher. Works from the early 90’s to works from my last show that closed in May 2017 that can never be replaced.
We had both home insurance and flood insurance but apparently that doesn’t cover a storage unit that is off my premises. That was my mistake; years ago, when I first got these insurance policies they did cover an outside storage, but the company’s policy changed somewhere down the road and I never read the fine print. My Mistake. I contacted FEMA but they denied my claim because my home was not damaged.
Such is Life.
Sometimes I feel petty thinking about my loss in comparison to so many that have lost their homes, their lives. But as an Artist, this loss was everything to me…. More important then the home we live in. It was a part of my identity. It was my history. Significant moments in my life. It marked time.
But through this process, we are moving forward. The things I can’t control, I am letting go of and accepting this new reality.
Keep on, Keepin’ on.
I have received many emails and have had many conversations with friends asking if I would set up an online funding account where they could donate to help with our expenses from this tragedy. Britt & I discussed the matter and didn’t feel comfortable asking our friends and colleagues to donate when they too are hurting. Instead, if you would like to help and have the means to do so, please contact my gallery and purchase a piece of mine. That way, we all can gain something from this loss.
Good News! Geri Hooks & I have agreed to work together! I am looking forward to working with the incredible team at Hooks-Epstein Gallery.
“Founded in 1969, Hooks-Epstein Gallery, Inc., is one of Houston’s longest running art galleries. Representing established, mid-career and emerging artists, the gallery pioneered the museum area. Over its 45 years of existence, the gallery has mounted many exhibitions, which received national and international acclaim. The gallery has published catalogues which continue to be used as a source of information and has produced exhibitions which have traveled from the gallery to museums and other venues.”
My show, The Space Between Grief and Morning consisting of Drawing, Photography, and Video, opened at Art League Houston. I loved working with the wonderful people there.
(All Photos by Alex Barber, Video Interview by Ronald L. Jones, Courtesy of Art League Houston.)
Britt & I ended up in Chicago for the past week… and talk about perfect timing…
November 2nd, 2016 – we joined the rest of Chicago at Wrigley Field and watched (on our mobile phones) as the Cubbies won Game 7 of the World Series…
Wow! What a game!
Chicagoans, I don’t know if it was because of the win but you have some of the most friendliest people on earth!
We fell in love with you!
Artist Gary Hill, Artist Britt Thomas, & Me – Engaged in some serious hand jive.
Gary Hill was honored in Houston this week by Aurora Picture Show. I was asked by Aurora to create a piece for Gary as a special Thank You from Aurora & Houston. Love his work and and had a wonderful time visiting with him.
(Photos courtesy of Peter Lucas.)
My work is in a group exhibition in London.
I had a whirlwind 24 hour Visiting Artist trip to my Alma Mater a week ago. It had been almost 30 years since I walked the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington as a Freshman in 1987. It was a wonderful visit seeing my former Professor Kenda North, giving a lecture, and having studio critiques with students doing interesting work.
City of Houston Public Art Commission, “Family Portraits”
So… if you are ever in Houston and go see a Major League Baseball game by the Houston Astros… Exit the stadium from the North Exit and walk north up Jackson Street less than 2 Blocks from Minute Maid Stadium and you can see my piece commissioned by the City of Houston called Family Portraits. The biggest thrill for me was that my mother and I shared the experience of seeing it for the first time together. It made us both smile.
My work is in a group exhibition in New York right now called, What’s Right, What’s Left: Democracy in America.
I was invited by Curator Peter Lucas & the Aurora Picture Show to create a piece using found footage from the Texas Archives of the Moving Image for their Mess with Texas Programming… I created a humorous short film about the Texas Art Scene which will be screened at the Aurora. Details to the program below:
I will be included in an exhibition called Sightlines at Kendall College of Art & Design in conjunction with Art Prize 7 in Michigan (“For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters.” -taken from Art Prize Website)…
Press Release from curator Michele Bosak:
“Sightlines,” KCAD’s ArtPrize 2015 exhibition, converges eight contemporary artists from around the world in a bold and timely examination of the often murky distinction between perception and reality. Each of these artists grapples in their own way with the fact that definitive understanding is largely elusive. Our sense of our own experiences and of the broader human experience is always changing, shifting, growing, and evolving as we embark down new paths, encounter new ideas, and undergo rapid technological advancement. Beneath the surface of what we choose to call “fact” and “truth,” there exists an underlying current of prejudice, assumption, motive, and misunderstanding that shapes both the way we come to see ourselves and our world and the way in which we communicate our perceptions to others.“
everyone vote for me #61485, I can use a $100k!!! Smile.
I was selected as a Finalist by the Jury for ArtPrize.
here is a promo piece they did of my work:
I just found out my work will be in an exhibition at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado.
I just received word that I have been selected for a commission by the City of Houston & Houston Arts Alliance to create art for their Downtown Wayfinding Project.
So we ended up taking a trip to the New York Area to spend some time with Terry Crews!?! We sang together, We danced together, and luckily We didn’t cry together! It was an incredibly fun and new experience.
An article I wrote about the Art Market was recently published on Glasstire Texas: Journal of Visual Art. The Next Pop in Art is a loose, fun piece about various problems about the business of art that I have heard over the years. The article may be viewed at:
My father passed away on April 10th and for the longest time I just wasn’t motivated to make anything… This is my first foray into doing something for my creative life again… so… Three weeks ago I decided to completely redesign my website. What was I thinking – madness I tell you! Now, I am almost finished with creating all the pages… and am happy with the results… thank god that this nightmare is almost over!