The 2019 Glow Ball honorees in a lineup: DJ Sun, Catherine D. Anspon, Emily Sloan, John Guess Jr., Ahshia Berry, and Sarah-Jayne Smith. (Photo by Betty Escalona)
HMAAC's John Guess Jr. (Photo by Betty Escalona)
John Guess Jr. has curated Houston-centric exhibitions such as the Slab Fest at HMAAC in 2013.
Ti-Rock Moore's take on the current presidency, recently mounted at HMAAC.
Magpies & Peacocks' Ahshia Berry strikes a pose with recording artist Elle L, the official UK ambassador to M&P, at London Fashion Week 2019. (Photo by Simon Armstrong)
Cary Reeder's "I'm a Stranger Here," unveiled last fall at Mystic Lyon.
Emily Sloan (Photo by Betty Escalona)
DJ Sun (Photo by Morris Malakoff)
Your 2019 Fresh Arts Gala: Glow Ball honorees DJ Sun, Emily Sloan, Ahshia Berry, Sarah-Jayne Smith, Catherine D. Anspon, and John Guess Jr. (Photo by Betty Escalona)
Fresh Arts, the Houston-based nonprofit which provides support to emerging artists and creative entrepreneurs, has revealed its honorees for its 2019 spring bash, the Glow Ball. This is always considered an occasion to celebrate the Houston art world and don some outrageous costumes.
Each year the Fresh Arts Gala braintrust dreams up a theme for revelers to interpret as they wish. Of course this means that any and all forms of dress or undress are encouraged. Previous installments have been invented and free-wheeling, including in the early years, Sno Ball, Fire Ball, and Ice Ball, followed by Cheese Ball, Ball ‘n Chain, the Crystal Ball, Gum Ball, Paint Ball and even the zen-inspired Be the Ball.
This spring’s gala has thusly been dubbed the Glow Ball. Appropriately, it’s set to honor six people who in their own ways encourage and guide others to “glow up,” and have committed themselves to Fresh Art’s mission of teaching aspiring talents how to make a living and a career out of being an artist.
Below, in their own words and mine, is a short but substantial dive into all six honorees.
John Guess Jr., CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture, which, not even a decade into its existence, serves as both gallery and communal space, a necessary fixture of the Museum District, and an institution which predated the Smithsonian’s own National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.
Per Guess and his Fresh Arts Champion of Houston Artists Statement, “I’ve often said that elevating artists allows them to uplift our communities and reflect the human spirit. My championing of artists is part of a bigger picture to strengthen communities and empower individuals.”
Ahshia Berry and Sarah-Jayne Smith, co-founders of nonprofit sustainable fashion house Magpies & Peacocks (fresh off a show-stopping appearance at London Fashion Week), told Fresh Arts, “We provide Houston artists the platform to introduce their work to each other, and to an influential, forward-thinking audience for collaboration.
“Our work within the arts extends much further than the boundaries of fashion – we provide a resource library of reusable material for the creative community as a whole, as well as offering skill building, and sustainability education.”
Performance artist, sculptor and curator Emily Sloan shepherds Mystic Lyon, an art space in the historic Fifth Ward that often deals with the topics of gentrification and a rapidly changing population in Houston: “I am passionate about and naturally lean towards supporting local artists. I love seeing projects come to fruition from the people and community I care for, share space with, and live among. As an artist myself, it is simply a matter of blooming where you are planted.”
Then there’s composer and producer DJ Sun, an artist with several albums of instrumental hip-hop under his belt, and who programs hip Montrose lounge The Flat, where he prioritizes first-time DJs.
A frequent guest of the Museum of Fine Arts Mixed Media parties, city-wide tastemaker and mentor figure for rising electronic and hip-hop musicians, DJ Sun in his statement said, “I have been blessed with the ability to perform as DJ, to make music as a producer, and to be able to put my music out to the world, through the immense opportunities and support I have received from the Houston community.
“I aim to mirror that energy towards giving up-and-coming DJs and producers similar opportunities.”
And last, but certainly not least, PaperCity‘s own arts and features editor Catherine D. Anspon, who has long championed and discovered fledgling artists as well as established name. Anspon writes a monthly arts column for the magazine (as well as numerous, insightful pieces for this very website). She has curated a survey of Lone Star state talents with her Texas Artists Today book, published in 2010, and is fast at work on volume two of her in-depth portrait of the Texas artist landscape.
She began writing about Houston’s art scene in the mid-1990s for the independent weekly Public News, and has also appeared in Artnews as its Houston correspondent, Art & Antiques, Spot, Glasstire, and most recently, ArtDesk and Cultured.
The second volume of Texas Artists Today will benefit Art League Houston, while documenting talents from Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and more.
Save the date: the Fresh Arts Houston Glow Ball, chaired by Kristen and John Berger, Lisa and Josh Oren, and Karen and Todd Blue, is set for Friday, March 29, at Silver Street Studios, from 8 pm to midnight. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your costumes now.
For more info, and to purchase tickets, click here.