Nine new projects to be completed in 2009? Yeah right, you’ll be lucky if you get seven. The HAA did get its ducks in a row for a moment when they rallied support to defend against Wayne Dolchefino, I haven’t seen this sort of bluster since Clinton asked what "the definition of ‘is’ is". But at least there is money flowing, and even if Jonathan Glus is worth a wooden nickel at least he’s doling out the dough. Dolchefinko did shine a spotlight on the whole shabby mess, and in the process he made me thankful for the crappy job that the Houston Arts Alliance does.
It’ll take a half million dollars to fix the place, but the GAC deserves to be saved. Between exceptional curator Clint Willour and their plum spot on the Strand the GAC has provenance and potential. Give them your money, give them your time. There are few things more worthwhile in art.
Director of The Station, provocateur extraordinaire, and founder of The Art Car Museum, proletariat institution, Harithas has given Houston more than enough of his sweat and tears. Former Corcoran Director, former Contemporary Arts Museum Senior Curator, founder of the Art Car Parade, Harithas is nothing less than a flesh institution looking to the future at every turn.
When the CAMH started forty years ago it was the Contemporary Arts Association, a homeless org with a mission. Through art wars of the 60s over homegrown vs. international talent the CAMH grew into a proper museum. Jermayne MacAgy was the inspiration for making the museum a home for international giants of contemporary art, and James Harithas made it a home for Houston artists in the 70s. Through the last thirty years the institution has struck a balance between regionalism and internationalism, carving a place for art in Houston and a place for Houston in art.
#6 Mark Flood
Do you know Culturcide? Tom Peters? Perry Webb? Look it up or you may find that you’re just a fucking idiot. Start with the latest issue of ANP Quarterly and work your way back to the late 60s. From collage pop culture monsters, to minimal destructive statements, to layered baroque fragments, Flood just wants you to know: The artworld is a pathetic sham.
#5 Al Souza
A pioneer of post-minimalism in Houston, Souza has never given a fuck about what people think. If you can breathe life into young artists this man has managed to do it- without letting any of them know it. In the meantime he’s managed to throw shows in New York without ever having to deal with that bullshit. Tell me, isn’t that what you’d rather be doing?
Sucker-punch or fly-paper, the Glassell has given Houston a lifeline to the outer world, and integrated its circle of collectors with personable, new artists. Nothing else has contributed more to the current situation, emerging sustainability, than the CORE program and the leisure learning art school of the Glassell. Visiting artists, lectures and critics enrich those close enough to know about it, but in the future it may enliven the entire community.
Houston’s Gulf port predecessor, the oldest settlement in Texas, was decimated by Hurricane Ike. The isle was inundated with a storm surge of 25 feet and 110 mph winds, residents were not allowed back for weeks, humanitarian aid was slow in coming and FEMA has been confirmed as little more than a disguised roulette wheel. Houston may have absorbed 100,000 people due to the disaster. We owe it to Galveston to finally pay some attention to them, and in the process reclaim our own heritage. The Victorian homes of a century ago need our attention, the middle class of Texas’ first city need our patronage and the poor of Galveston need our philanthropic attention. I met a young man named Chavez at this year’s Westheimer Street Festival. He lost his home and his job at the Medical Center. He was working as a dishwasher in a restaurant and apprenticing at a metal shop to make ends meet. All I could do was listen as he rattled off a litany of personal woes. As I asked people to carry signs through the streets like I’M SO SCARED RIGHT NOW and THE’RE ALL BEYOND THE PALE, I thought back to Chavez, and all the reasons why I never should have met him.
#2 Bill White
"When I was a kid people thought the Beatles White Album was radical. Now you hear it play in elevators." With that White put to rest all that Wayne Dolchefinko crap, and any qualms I had about him being the next governor of Texas. Oh, he’s running for the Senate? Oh, ok. Not as cool, but whatever. He held his shit together during Hurricane Ike, and he made it possible to be a non-Republican in Texas. Take that, political hegemony.
Seriously, one fucking house survived? And it was the house that was destroyed in a previous hurricane and rebuilt specifically to withstand hurricane force winds? Damn. I guess we’ve gotta be a little less cowboy about this whole building on the coast in hurricane territory thing. But what a symbol, yo. Beautiful.