Arts / Museums / Galleries

6 Houston Art World Shows Worth Seeing Before They’re Gone — Harris County Jail Deaths, Art Cars and More Put in Spotlight

The Bayou City Is An Art Playground

BY // 11.05.23

This just in. Barbara Pollack rang us up. The longtime contributing editor for Artnews with a celebrated byline that includes decades as contributing arts journalist at The New York Times, is sharing news of her latest endeavor: Art at a Time Like This, a nonprofit she co-founded in 2020, with model turned curator, writer and artist agent Anne Verhallen.

The activist-focused endeavor seeks to raise awareness, spark conversation and, above all, make change via artist engagement with the issues of our day. Houston, with its record of 15 deaths this year alone at the Harris County Jail, is the second city for the Art at a Time Like This’ 8×5 project. The title references the size of the average prison cell.

The 10 artists tapped for billboards and four mobile billboard trucks range across generations, nationalities and stages of renown. Invited talents Mel Chin, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Faylita Hicks, Jared Owens and Jenny Polak are joined by juried artists selected by open call: McKenna Gessner, Monti Hill, Kill Joy, Chandrika Metivier and El Rebo.

“I believe that two of the most important things I can do as an artist and activist is witness and inform,” Hicks tells PaperCity. “I have witnessed first-hand the ways in which Texas, the state I lived and loved in for over 20 years, has failed to protect its most vulnerable communities.

“And now I must inform those communities about the extent of that failure and think creatively about potential solutions. That’s why it’s a priority for me to work alongside advocacy groups in the fight to end mass incarceration. Our coalitions, our connections, are what will ultimately help us transform the outcomes for us all.”

Houston billboard updates and locations will be revealed this month @artatatimelikethis. You can find additional project info here. 

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Faylita Hicks' <em>Harris County &amp; the 8th</em> for 8x5 Houston (Courtesy Art at a Time Like This)
Faylita Hicks’ Harris County & the 8th for 8×5 Houston (Courtesy Art at a Time Like This)

Our Lady of Art Cars

The late Ann Harithas — Houston’s munificent patron, curator, gallerist and museum founder — is finally getting her due. The Art Car Museum is the venue for a traveling exhibition organized by the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art in Victoria, Texas. Curated by Five Points’ Maurice Roberts, “The Creative Era of Ann Harithas” reveals the late innovator’s artistic influences and curatorial contributions, from Houston and Victoria to New York and California.

Revel in iconic art cars forged, collected and commissioned by Harithas, who founded the art car movement in Texas. Then bask in her intuitive intimate collages. The exhibition runs through April 28.

Ann Harithas' <em>Last Dance</em>, 2001, at Art Car Museum. The late artist, curator, museum founder, and patron was one of Houston's most iconoclastic mavericks. Her retrospective is on view at the Art Car Museum, which she co-founded with husband Jim Harithas, through April 28. 2024. (Courtesy Art Car Museum)
Ann Harithas’ Last Dance, 2001, at Art Car Museum. The late artist, curator, museum founder, and patron was one of Houston’s most iconoclastic mavericks. Her retrospective is on view at the Art Car Museum, which she co-founded with husband Jim Harithas, through April 28. 2024. (Courtesy Art Car Museum)

Surrealism Reigns

Autumn is the calendar’s most surreal season, and the art world takes note. At Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts, Laure Prouvost — who represented France at the 2019 Venice Biennale and won the United Kingdom’s tony 2013 Turner Prize — forges an alternately enchanting and disturbing environment that would be at home in the Menil’s Surrealism galleries. Her hermetic, eco-feminist exhibition, “Above Front Tears Nest in South,” taps into varied media including fauna and debris sourced from the Rice campus. It is on view through December 14.

Laure Prouvost's "Above Front Tears Nest in South," installation view, Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University, through December 14. (Photo by Anthony Rathbun). The immersive exhibition is a coup for the Moody, featuring an ambitious take on the environment forged by a Turner Prize-winning eco-feminist.
Laure Prouvost’s “Above Front Tears Nest in South,” installation view, Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University, through December 14. (Photo by Anthony Rathbun). The immersive exhibition is a coup for the Moody, featuring an ambitious take on the environment forged by a Turner Prize-winning eco-feminist.

The Sleep of Reason

Dr. Volker Eisele, the force behind fall’s annual Sculpture Month Houston, organizes its seventh round at Site Gallery at The Silos at Sawyer Yards. In “The Sleep of Reason: The Fragmented Figure,” 18 Texas artists take on the creepy cool agrarian ruin of the former Success Rice silos, seeking to answer this query: “What is the most compelling image of man and the human figure today?” It is on view through December 2.

Jimmy Canales’ <em>Zuzan</em>, 2023, at Site Gallery at The Silos at Sawyer Yards
Jimmy Canales’ Zuzan, 2023, at Site Gallery at The Silos at Sawyer Yards

And just in: Don’t miss at Site Gallery, The Silos at Sawyer Yards, what curator Dr. Eisele promises will be extraordinary, the “Roz (Robotic Resonance).” This performance will take place on two days only: next Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11, from noon to 6 pm each day.

"Roz," a surreal robotic performance is a not-to-be-missed (free) highlight of Sculpture Month Houston at The Silos' Site Gallery, at The Silos at Sawyer Yards. (Photo courtesy Sculpture Month Houston)
“Roz,” a surreal robotic performance is a not-to-be-missed (free) highlight of Sculpture Month Houston at Site Gallery, The Silos at Sawyer Yards set for Friday and Saturday, November 10 and 11, noon to 6 pm daily. (Photo courtesy Sculpture Month Houston)

We’ve All Come to Look for America

Two photographers, two Guggenheim fellowships, a parallel topic. . .  and one singular year. That’s the premise of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s “Robert Frank and Todd Webb, Across America, 1955,” an intensely timely exhibit curated by Lisa Volpe (which is running through January 7).

The exhibition could be set to the Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack America with the line “I’ve gone to look for America.” Frank and Webb’s exhibition is one of a triumvirate that define the fall at MFAH including “Rembrandt to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the Armand Hammer Collection” (running through January 21) and “Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence” (which shows from November 19 through June 19).

Robert Frank's <em>Rodeo, New York City</em>, 1955-1956 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Courtesy MFAH © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation)
Robert Frank’s Rodeo, New York City, 1955-1956 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Courtesy MFAH © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation)
Todd Webb's <em>Cowboy, Lexington, NE,</em> 1956, printed 2023, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Courtesy of Todd Webb Archive. © Todd Webb Archive)
Todd Webb’s Cowboy, Lexington, NE, 1956, printed 2023, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Courtesy of Todd Webb Archive. © Todd Webb Archive)

Caption This!

Speaking of photography, Project B’s Barbara Levine and Paige Ramey return to town for their book signing and exhibition of the same name, “Caption This!” at Houston Center of Photography (showing through November 19). The duo, in collaboration with fellow artist/photographer Martin Venezky, bring forth a cheeky volume published by Princeton Architectural Press that’s sourced from vintage vernacular photography paired with text, aptly billed as “A photographic collection of amusing comments, snarky asides and romantic admissions.”

Caption This! the latest from Barbara Levine and Paige Ramey’s Project B
Caption This! the latest from Barbara Levine and Paige Ramey’s Project B is both a book from Princeton Architectural Press and an exhibition of the same name at Houston Center for Photography on view through Sunday, November 19.

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