Houston Endowment Launches Jones Artist Award for Emerging Local Artists

by Jessica Fuentes April 28, 2023

The Houston Endowment (HEI), a place-based philanthropic organization, has announced the launch of its Jones Artist Award, a granting program to support local emerging artists.

Established in 1937 by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones, HEI has been a supporter of the arts for 86 years. The Jones Artist Award is a new initiative that strengthens the organization’s investment in the local arts community.

Last year, following the relocation of its headquarters, HEI, with the assistance of the Weingarten Art Group, launched an open call for artists to be considered to exhibit in the Endowment’s lobby. The response to the call was greater than the organization had expected, with over 140 submissions. From the submissions, nine artists were chosen to be exhibited in two group shows and one solo show, which will all take place this year. Additionally, the organization has named these selected artists as the inaugural 2023 Jones Artist Award recipients.

HEI told Glasstire that awards to participating artists ranged from $4,000 to $12,000, depending on the number of artists and artworks selected for exhibition. Additionally, HEI is providing support for all exhibition expenses, including framing, art transportation, installation and deinstallation, signage, and photo and video documentation.

In a press release, Ann Stern, President and CEO of HEI remarked, “Art is essential to the vibrancy of our city, and it is vital that all artists have ample opportunities to share their unique perspectives. It’s an immense honor to recognize the outstanding talent of emerging artists and establish the Houston Endowment Jones Artist Awards as an ongoing opportunity to showcase the many unique perspectives that enrich our diverse community.”

An installation image of a group show featuring paintings, photographs, sculptures, and prints.

“Salvation is my heart on display,” on view at the Houston Endowment headquarters. Photo: Lawrence Elizabeth Knox.

The inaugural exhibition, Salvation is my heart on display, features works by Shavon Morris, Jakayla Monay, Raul Rene Gonzalez, and Jessica Phillips. According to the press release, the show brings together artists working in a variety of media, including photography, painting, ceramics, and printmaking, to address “topics such as racism, colorism, parenting, and the complexities of human interaction.” The works on view feature depictions of embraces, community and bonding, and comfort in familiar places. 

Each of the artists involved in the first exhibition spoke with Glasstire, and in addition to expressing their deep gratitude for being selected to receive the award, they also each explained what this means for them in their careers at the moment.

A photograph of artist Shavon Morris in front of works of art.

Shavon Morris. Photo: Lawrence Elizabeth Knox.

Ms. Morris explained, “Being selected as one of the inaugural recipients of this award is a great honor for me, as it recognizes the hard work and dedication that I have put into my interdisciplinary art practice over the years. This award will definitely help me to further explore the complexities of heritage, as I continue to use textiles, language, and historic photography to approach contemporary craft. I am incredibly grateful to Houston Endowment and the Weingarten Art Group for providing me with the resources and support necessary to further establish myself as an artist representing Houston.”

A photograph of Jakayla Monay sitting in front of a wall of photographs and paintings.

Jakayla Monay. Photo: Lawrence Elizabeth Knox.

Ms. Monay echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Words can’t explain how I feel at this current moment, but I’m grateful beyond measure. I’m still considered an up-and-coming artist, so being part of this program, in a room full of amazing, established artists, lets me know that I’m doing something right in my career.”

A photograph of artist Jessica Phillips sitting in front of small sculptures on table.

Jessica Phillips. Photo: Lawrence Elizabeth Knox.

Ms. Phillips remarked, “So much of my work revolves around concepts of relationships and human interconnectedness. I am looking forward to the new relationships that will arise from this honor, which I am confident will provide me opportunities to grow and develop my body of work.”

Mr. Gonzalez added, “Being one of the recipients of the Houston Endowment’s Jones Artist Awards is definitely one of the highlights of my young career. It truly means a lot to be recognized alongside such a diverse group of Houston artists. I can honestly say the award has allowed me to dedicate more studio time to my practice and it feels amazing.”

Salvation is my heart on display will be on view through mid-summer at HEI. Later this year, a second group exhibition, Where is Home, will feature works by Sneha Bhavsar, Nela Garzon, Lorena Molina, and Marcos Hernandez Chavez. Additionally, Corey Sherrard Jr. was chosen to have a solo exhibition, titled Songbook for Black Constellations. Each exhibition will be presented at HEI’s private headquarters. 

Though the exhibitions will only be visible to visitors to the Endowment, the shows can be seen online on the Houston Endowment’s website. The call for the 2024 Jones Artist Awards will open later this summer.

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