Geraldine “Geri” Lee Epstein Hooks, longtime Houston gallerist and owner of Hooks-Epstein Galleries, has died. She died peacefully in her sleep at her Houston home on Monday, June 7; she was 86. The gallery, located at 2631 Colquitt, Houston, was established in 1969 at 1200 Bissonnet “in a big old wonderful house,” as described by Hooks in a Houston Chronicle article on the occasion of the Gallery’s 40th anniversary, back in September 2009.
The Chronicle article also mentions that Hooks’ business partner, Evan Epstein, sold their half of the gallery to Hooks’ late husband Charles, and the gallery moved to its current location on Colquitt. Reflecting on the move to Colquitt, Hooks reportedly told gallery owner Betty Moody (Moody Gallery, also on Colquitt) that it was a crazy idea to relocate from the bustling River Oaks Shopping Center.
Hooks is quoted by the Chronicle: “I said, ‘Betty, don’t be foolish; nobody will come; how could you possibly think of doing something so ridiculous?’ Now, of course, we laugh all the time.” Glasstire reached out to Moody, who wrote, “I moved to Houston in 1969 and remember Hooks-Epstein opening. One of our truly fine galleries with an amazing history — they started the gallery by showing very fine 20th century original prints, and of course, changed and broadened their scope over the years. Hooks-Epstein Galleries is a major part of Houston’s history and of the fiber of our art community.”
Hook-Epstein released the following statement yesterday:
“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our dear Geri Hooks. On Monday, June 7, 2021, we said goodbye to a truly wonderful woman who touched our lives, the Houston art community, and the lives of many artists, near and far. She was extremely passionate about arts and always advocated for every artist who walked through her doors.
“For Geri, this commitment was more than her job – it was about doing what she loved. It was about working together for a better future for her gallery family and for the arts community. Her favorite part was the people – she loved greeting visitors and getting to know their stories.
“We are aching and feeling the absence of our gallery grand dame –our best friend, our warm-hearted, cheeky lady.
“Moving forward, we will do our best to continue her legacy and make her proud. She will always be remembered in the arts community and by all those whose lives she touched.
“Thank you for your big heart. You are deeply missed and will always be loved. Rest easy, Geri.
– Yvonne, Jayni and the Hooks-Epstein Galleries family”
Some work shown earlier at Hooks-Epstein included Pablo Picasso’s Saltimbanque suite of prints, as well as, over the years, works by mid-career and emerging artists including Robert Pruitt, Kermit Oliver, Ward Saunders, Mark Greenwalt, Clara Hoag and Edward Lane McCartney, to name a few.
Houston artist and gallerist Michelle Barnes states in an email to Glasstire: “Geri (and husband Charles) Hooks were friends to the many local artists and [she] was a pillar of our community. Geri offered advice, guidance, counsel, comfort and energy to our ideas and enterprises. I admired her flair for life, loved working with her, and will miss her beyond words.”
Artist and educator Kingsley Powers Onyeiwu, whose work is currently on view at Hooks-Epstein, has this to say: “Geri was a true friend and patron. She believed in me and paved the way for my career. I will always celebrate her as I continue my journey as an artist.”
From the gallery: Funeral and Memorial service will take place at the Emanu El Memorial Park on Friday, June 11 at 10 a.m. “Shiva Minyan will take place at Congregation Emanu El on Friday, June 11 at 6:00 p.m. Donations in Geri’s memory should be made to any local art organization of your choice or Congregation Emanu El.”