Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tequila Patron

How much fun was it to share shots of Tequila Patron with Irma Galvan, Ted Estrada and Jose Solis in Brownsville last night? I haven't seen either of them since they moved to the valley. Irma and I drove from Houston with a truck filled with Maximus coffee cans, blue wine bottles and various pieces of metal pipe fittings from Valero's salvage yard - all raw materials for Second Seating chandeliers. Both of these artists make very interesting stuff and I am really pleased that they've agreed to participate in this installation. How many more shots of Tequila Patron will we share as we formulate ideas and create a fantasy or two?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Real Houston

'Seeing the East End for the first time again' is an old article written by Houston Business Journal's Bill Schadewald that really identifies some of the character of this oldest part of Houston. I remember reading the piece when it was originally published in 2000. Just came across it again when I Googled for East End coffee processing in an effort to get some up-to-date facts and figures on one of our neighborhood's major industries.
I like Schadewald's last sentence, "Economic conditions may ebb and flow, but the East End will always be one of the first places to go to find the real Houston."
That statement certainly contains one of the inspirations for 'Second Seating.' Too few people know where Houston's heart lives. Maybe a group of artists and East End businesses can change that lapse of knowledge. We're working on it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Studio Move In and A Lot of Old Stuff

It's not only warm today with brilliant blue skies, but with a friend, I moved a lot of the materials for 'Second Seating' into a wonderful new and BIG space where I can see everything all at once - and I'll know moment by moment just how 'Second Seating' is shaping up - or not shaping up.

I must remeasure the actual installation space at Irma's and then use masking tape on this studio floor to map out the area I'll need to fill with work.

Just by moving in some tables today, I can see that with dozens, make that hundreds, of folks looking at the installation, I'll need to have fewer 'Second Seating' table simply for traffic flow. That probably means more chandeliers and more montages on the walls and ceiling.

We moved eight small square tables from Irma's storage and put them all together to form the base for 'Banquet' which will become a massive table covered with all that fabulous fabric salvaged from Hurricane Ike and then piled high with vintage china, bowls, sugar cathedrals, flowers, candelabra, fruits, vegetables and lots of tshatshkes from the East End.

Also moved things from my home studio and more stuff that was originally stored in a POD after Queta and I cleaned out the garage last January. Has it been a full year? It has. A full year since we emptied that garage and packed so many 'things' away for this exhibition or for the girls or for giving away. I suspect all 'things' will eventually make their way into 'Second Seating.'

Such a lot of stuff. The hope is that I'll sell most of it during the exhibition. After all, this is all about vintage and recycled stuff from folk's trash, garage sales, resale shops, closets. Perhaps it will all turn into a personal purge of quite wonderful belongings.

It's hard for me not to dash into Value Village on Harrisburg - where yesterday I found an old hand painted souvenir tray with a view of Niagara Falls. Surely that tray will make its way onto the 'Banquet' table.

And I've decided to buy odd silver plate spoons and forks because I am beginning to think that they will make a wonderful mobile-like chandelier. Hope the other artists involved in this effort will think so too. Irma and I are off in two weeks to deliver crushed beer cans and white plastic Clorox bottles as inspiration and a first step toward a couple of magnificent lighting fixtures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Warhol Foundation Initiative: The Idea Fund Meets 'Second Seating'

January 6, 2009 is a very good day. I'm back in my own house, my eyes did not open until nearly 10:00 a.m., body and soul are rested from hours and hours of sleep. And that is only the context for this very good day. At 10:15, I returned a call from Diverse Works and learned that I am one of ten Houston artists to receive The Idea Fund grant made possible by a Warhol Foundation Initiative. Happy new year!

I have to say that receiving this grant just gave my whole psyche a boost. A really big boost. There is something so important about having others believe in your idea and frankly, 'its worthiness'. And 'Second Seating' now has a terrific credential that will make it so much easier for me to gather additional funding from East End businesses and private underwriters.

Thank you, Diverse Works, Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses for selecting 'Second Seating.' It was one of over 100 applications and one of ten 'winners.' Thanks for 'seeing' that 'Second Seating' works on several different levels: as art, as community building and as promotion for an old urban neighborhood and its industries.

After hearing about the other winner's projects, I 'see' that each of theirs will also work on several levels. 'Second Seating' is in good company.

This week I am moving 'stuff' for 'Second Seating' into large studio space - meaning that it's just about the size of Irma's exhibition space - so that I can begin the real work of manifesting these tables and chandeliers and scrims/tablecloths. This studio space is another really big gift for this project. I knew when I asked and the answer was yes that 'Second Seating' was meant to be.

So, tomorrow morning I have an appointment with another potential funder. I'll have lots to talk about. The Warhol Foundation may just be the magic words that will make this a project with which they want to be involved, even with layoffs and economic tough times. That will certainly be the hope.

I'm off to Irma's for a late lunch and a look at the tables and chairs that she's collected to see if any can be used for 'Second Seating.' If so, I'll add them into the inventory at the studio on Harrisburg. Which, by the way, needs a name. No, not the actual name of the building or owner, but a 'Second Seating' name.

And later this month, Irma and I will drive to South Texas to talk about tin can chandeliers and table top ideas with Jose Solis and Teodora Estrada, two artists who'll be joining this project. Above is a tin can piece Jose made years ago that I bought for the Greater East End Management District. Call it it sun and an apt visual for the district's tag line, "The New Day Begins.'

It's also time to get back with Jesse Sifuentes, an East End muralist who'll be a part of 'Second Seating'. I believe The Idea Fund grant will make 'Second Seating' more real to these three artists and that we will now begin work in earnest.

Back to The Idea Fund. Here's what the Aurora Picture Show's website says about it:

"Through the Warhol Foundation Initiative, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks and Project Row Houses have come together to support art at its source by providing direct grants to artists. The Idea Fund recognizes that Houston is home to a vibrant and energetic arts community, and that adventurous ideas deserve adventurous support.

The Idea Fund provides cash awards to Houston-based, artist-generated or artist-centered projects that exemplify the unconventional, interventionist, conceptual, entrepreneurial, participatory, or guerrilla artistic practices that occur outside of the traditional frameworks of support.

The Idea Fund provides cash awards to up to 10 artists, associations of artists and/or curators that create and showcase new work that involves the public via process, production, or presentation. The Idea Fund will accept proposals from artists/curators focusing on the visual arts, performance, film, video, new media, social practice, and interdisciplinary projects.

Projects may include an exhibition or exhibition series; a public art project; a one-time event or performance; the ongoing work of a collective, collaborative, or artist space; an online project or publication; an artist residency; a series of screenings; and more. The Idea Fund seeks to support new works with the resulting project activities accessible and presented to the public."

Happy new year 'Second Seating' !