On November 1, 2022, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art announced on its website and social media platforms that it has closed until further notice.
The announcement, signed by the museum’s staff, begins with a note about co-founders Ann and James Harithas, and nods to the forward-thinking exhibitions hosted by the institution over the past twenty years. It also mentions the end of the recent exhibition, Clark V. Fox: Subversion and Spectacle.
The renowned Houston-based artist Mel Chin echoed these sentiments about the museum. He told Glasstire: “The Station was the true alternative to the status quo, dedicated by Jim Harithas to be fearless in the face of injustice and political oppression. He brought the intellectual critical discourse to be placed before the most diversified audience, local to international. The underrepresented or undiscovered voices of protest, of Palestinian, Iraqi, LGBTQ, POC, from the Indigenous to the local were presented without compromise. The Station organized some of the most compelling, elegant and transcendent exhibitions in the city, pushing whatever was necessary to honor and elevate the voices of artists. The openings were always free and a blast.”
As Mr. Chin mentioned, the museum presented the kinds of shows that one couldn’t find elsewhere in Houston. Exhibitions often highlighted either a cohort of local artists, like Friendly Fire, the 2016 show of work by Regina Agu, Noah Edmundson, Robert Hodge, Jesse Lott, Gabriel Martinez, Lovie Olivia, Forrest Prince, Kaneem Smith, or a group of artists brought in from elsewhere, as in PARALLEL KINGDOM: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia.
The museum didn’t pull punches. On its website, the Station says its exhibitions “question our society’s morality and ethics,” and that the institution “embraces the idea that art plays a critical role in society as an agent of creativity and civil discourse and as a resource that deepens and broadens public awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and personal dimensions of art.”
Because of its fearlessness, the Station wasn’t without its controversies. In 2017 protesters gathered in opposition to Andres Serrano’s exhibition at the museum, saying that his photo Immersion (Piss Christ) was blasphemous. For another exhibition, the Los Angeles-based artist Cassils held a “Houston Piss Drive,” for which they collected urine from the community. With the closing of the museum, Houston loses a private institution that, because of its role in the community, could present the kind of exhibitions that look past market trends and donor affinities.
According to the museum’s website, the Station will be on hiatus from both exhibitions and public programming until further notice. Updates and information will be provided by the museum on its website.
Well said Mel. I share your sentiment. I also applaud the Station Museum all it stands for.
Great exhibitions, and I think someone needs to help archive all the museum shows from its inception in 2000-2001 with Ajita and Made in Palestine and help preserve its legacy going forward. Not an institution that needs to be forgotten as the art world moves fast.