Grassroots “Let Creativity Happen!” Happens Again

by Paula Newton August 23, 2018

Mayor Turner. Image via Twitter

In early 2018, the Houston Arts Alliance came together with the City of Houston to begin the “Let Creativity Happen!” Express Grants for artists to encourage creative risks and collaborations that may not qualify for more traditional funding opportunities.

The grants are awarded four times a year at a maximum of $2,500. The awards total $35,000, using funds from the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Taxes, which include set-asides for cultural enrichment.

Congratulations to the 14 awardees of the latest round of Express Grants, or as Mayor Sylvester Turner says, “I congratulate each of the award recipients as they continue to showcase the breadth of talent in Houston.”

Below are the recipients and short descriptions of their projects. Read through them to get a feel for the grant’s mission so that you can apply for the next round. The next deadline to apply is Monday, November 5 at 5:30pm. For more information on the grant, go to HAA grants page.

Norma J. Thomas
From web to stage and stage to web, “All the Web’s a Stage” marries live theatre to the internet with a groundbreaking twist. Audiences will participate in live theatre recordings of the award-winning stage play “Personifications” at several venues around Houston, followed by six weekly episodes of that production on web platforms such as Facebook Watch.

Amiri Boykin
“The Antique Blacks Belong to Me” is a collaborative performance art demonstration on the Houston METROrail. Starring Emily Whittemore and Anthony Obi, the production will be directed by Amiri Boykin. Using overlapping pre-recorded and live production, “The Antique Blacks Belong to Me” challenges and dismantles existing pretense and presupposition of racial disparities, cultural differences, and class distinctions by framing the same inquiry through multiple distinct perspectives.

Utilizing the unique acoustic possibilities of the Silos at Sawyer Yards, Loop38 brings music of the past and present into extreme juxtaposition with “Bach/Berio.” During two free performances at the Silos on Saturday, April 13, 2019, the musicians of Loop38 will break into solo acts, with each soloist embodying a silo. Visitors may pass through each silo at their own pace, traveling in and out of each performer’s space. This will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to intimately experience two masterpieces from opposite ends of time.

Jerry and Kate Kendall
“Fluvial Tapestries” honors Houston’s unique natural landscape and resilient culture that values science and the arts. The bayous are the heart of Houston’s past, present, and future and they affect residents’ lives physically and culturally daily. In the form of sculptural objects, video projections, and a publication, “Fluvial Tapestries” enhances narratives about Houston by celebrating resilience and exploring how we can relate to our landscape as well as each other in moments of recovery.

Teresa Chapman
“Candyland,” the latest dance performance by Chapman Dance, offers a choreographic perspective on the cleverly crafted artworks in “Cary Leibowtz: Museum Show,” now on display in the Zhilka Gallery at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Dance, discussion, and visual art will all happen in one place on Aug. 25, 2018 in the heart of the museum district.

Nick Gaitan
Organizers and East End residents, musician Nick Gaitan and DJ Isaac Rodriguez will produce a daylong event on Oct. 19, 2018 at Morales Radio Hall. Combining documentation, preservation, public education, and performance, “Tejano and Chicano Soul in Houston’s East End” highlights the contributions of pioneering musicians from the East End community and relates them to the development of an important and nationally-noted style of music—Tejano Soul.

Group Acorde
Premiering Jan. 10-12, 2019 at the MATCH, “Origins” is a full evening performance reflecting the collaboration between two dancers, two musicians, a guest choreographer, a guest composer, and a visual artist. Through the creative process, each medium (music, visual art, and contemporary dance) will be enhanced as the artists share their languages while exploring each other’s individual origins.

Sarah Darro
“After Memphis: Postmodern Design By Hand” is anexhibition exploring the renaissance of Postmodernism in contemporary craft and design through an iconic Postmodernist structure in Houston: the “Mesa”. This exhibition of handcrafted furniture and functional objects will investigate emerging artists’ appropriation of Memphis Design and provide a window into Houston’s architectural and design history. The exhibition will be open from October 12, 2018 through November 16, 2018.

Shana Hoehn
“Figureheads and Hood Ornament,” is a mobile exhibition that addresses the use of female figures in hood ornaments and ship figureheads. This show can be transported to locations throughout the city that are tied to the ship channels or the automobile industry. By removing figureheads and ornaments from their vehicles and remodeling them into larger, freestanding sculptures, artist Hoehn hopes to confront how myths are carefully constructed around us for commercial interest and “propaganda.”

The Ghost House Project
“The Ghost House Project” is a film/photography exhibition that documents abandoned lots in Third Ward perceived as bad places. Renowned poet Ernesto Mercer and writer Felicia Johnson will photograph these lots as they are ceremonially cleared of negative connotation. An exhibition of the work will open on Aug. 30, 2018 at Winston Galleries with a public lecture at SHAPE Community Center.

Chapel In the Sky
Chapel In The Sky, a new musical and art collective, announces its first multidisciplinary performance engaging the main neon instillation at the exhibition “Ambiente Amore” by Felipe Lopez at Clarke & Associates Gallery. On Aug.18, 2018, Chapel In the Sky will transform the typical gallery experience with a one-night performance of new electronic and ambient music. The reverberating union of light and sound will offer the audience an opportunity to experience two art forms in a luminous dialogue, a conversation extended from artist Lopez’s original concepts.

“La Vida es Cortos/Life is Shorts” is a unique festival that uses short plays and films to highlight the Houston Latinx community, its artists, and its stories. Bringing together Latinx theater companies and film makers from around the city, the festival will consist of five short plays and five short films and will be presented in November 2018.

flak magazine
flak magazine, organized by Paul Middendorf, Michael McFadden, and Elizabeth Rhodes, is a new publication dedicated to critical writing about the ideas behind contemporary art. flak provides a platform for artists who collectively highlight the diversity and inventiveness of Houston’s arts community while also showcasing the impact that Houston has had on artists across the globe.

Rebecca French Choreography
On November 16 & 17, 2018, nine dancers, a choreographer, a costume designer, and a video projection artist will converge at The James Turrell Skyspace at Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. The group will create an evening of free performance that will inspire each audience member and breathe new life into a classic Houston location.


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