Houston’s French Revolution: A Bold Coalition Gives H-Town’s New Arts Month an International Kid-Friendly FlairBY Catherine D. Anspon // 06.29.16
France Pavilion's American headliner Desire Obtain Cherish shown with a series of "Meltdown" sculptures. (Courtesy the artist and Unix Gallery, NYC and Houston)
Desire Obtain Cherish's "Coco," 2014-215, features the fashion designer's portrait rendered in 8,000 pills. (Courtesy the artist and Unix Gallery, NYC and Houston)
French Touch Events' most moving creation happened June 6, 2014, when it dropped one million rose petals over the Statue of Liberty on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. (Courtesy French Touch Events)
French sculptor Richard Orlinski's "Black Panther," alludes to an Art Deco influence. Orlinski's work will appear in the France Pavilion.
Street artist Le Closier serves up another component. Shown, a portrait of Serena Williams. The artist and the tennis great pose at the 2016 French Open. (Courtesy the artist and France Pavilion)
Desire Obtain Cherish's more enigmatic work includes the 2014 sculpture, "We Are Known By The Company We Keep." (Courtesy the artist and Unix Gallery, NYC and Houston)
Besides two art fairs this September — Texas Contemporary and Houston Art Fair — and an antiques convergence (Houston Antiques + Art + Design Show), Houston now also gets a multi-day event with a pedigreed international component. All four together form the core of a still being branded Houston Arts Month.
Cue France Pavilion, an initiative traveling to Texas that was inaugurated in Miami, with iterations in Manhattan and Washington,
D.C. Partnering with the French Consul General’s office in Houston and the Texan French Alliance for the Arts, the Pavilion’s three players are Miami-based arts adviser Sebastien Laboureau, and co-presidents Sandrine and Rod Kukurudz, whom co-own the parent company, French Touch Events. (French Touch’s highest-profile production to date was its epic commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, celebrated at the Statue of Liberty, when 1 million rose petals were showered from a helicopter upon the iconic monument on June 6, 2014.) It also produced last fall’s promotion in Times Square, Best of France, presenting booths and demonstrations for the public touting everything for the Francophile — from fashion and beauty to cuisine, tourism and technology.
France Pavilion coincides with both art fairs — Thursday, September 29 through Sunday, October 2 — but will not charge admission (with the exception of a few VIP events). Its Winter Street Studios location is primed to take advantage of Houston Art Fair audiences: HAF takes place next door at the Silver Street Event Space.
Laboureau, who is an advocate for cultural bridges — as well as serving as the art advisor to the tony Sagamore Hotel in Miami and chairing that city’s Arts & Business Council — let us in on the Pavilion’s educational mission. “We have confirmation from HISD … we are putting together a full day for the kids to live this experience, together with a tour of the [French] General Consul residence. It will be fantastic. We are forging a partnership with Texan French Alliance for the Arts as well, and will support their art education efforts in Houston.”
As for the exhibiting artists, who will be paired with music and/or dance and other to-be-determined cultural offerings, Laboureau said, “I envisage presenting more than 15 French contemporary artists, very solid ones, most of them never exhibited in Houston, from mid-career to emerging artists.” Creatives confirmed to date from across the pond include sculptor Richard Orlinski, known for his Deco-style take on the animal kingdom, and Le Closier, who is obsessed with sports celebrities, especially from the tennis realm.
But perhaps most excitement swirls around the bold work of American Pop sculptor/guest artist Desire Obtain Cherish, who possesses a personal French connection, having lived in Paris and being married to a French woman. DOC, based in L.A., will be curated at the France Pavilion by his dealer, Unix Gallery of New York and Houston. Watch for works with Franco allusions, including a portrait of the immortal Coco Chanel rendered in 8,000 pills.