Arts / Galleries

Rising Artists Get Another Houston Showcase — A City Where Fresh Works Are Treasured

I, Ruby Makes a Mark at the Silos at Sawyer Yards

BY // 07.18.23
photography Hung Ngo

Houston has gained another contemporary art gem. Located at an up-and-coming artistic hub the Silos at Sawyer Yards, “I, Ruby: Vol. 1” features new and established artists, many of them showing in Houston for the first time. These are fresh evocative works.

“I, Ruby” is a joint effort between renowned Houston artist Jeanne Jones and Megan Olivia Ebel, the latter being the founder of Ruby Projects. Ruby Projects works with artists and collectors through galleries, public art programs, arts institutions and more to foster cooperation among the Houston creative community and bring Bayou City art to wider national and international audiences. 

<em>Combination Pho Installation</em> by Komie Le at "I, Ruby: Vol. 1" (Photo by Hung Ngo)
Combination Pho Installation by Komie Le at “I, Ruby: Vol. 1” (Photo by Hung Ngo)

This exhibition — held in Jones’ studio space at The Silos — embodies the mission of Ruby Projects, exemplifying the diversity, innovation and uniqueness of the emerging Houston arts scene, as well as the importance of breaking the exclusive and insular nature of the art market here by introducing new artists to the city. 

Ebel personally curated all the artwork featured in “I, Ruby.” Each is chosen to represent distinct perspectives, mediums and messages. 

Sculptural works are featured heavily in the collection, such as the whimsical and nostalgia-filled pieces from ceramicist Komie Le, a second-generation Vietnamese American and recent graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos. Rice With Everything, Fish Sauce Pot and Snack Pot are three urns representing the different generations of Le’s family and her Vietnamese heritage. In the exhibition, the urns are shown together atop a wooden table, surrounded by smaller sculpted items, including a bag of lychee and a box of chicken feet.

It’s a moving, playful representation of Le’s cultural identity, one that can speak deeply to Houston’s large community of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans.

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"Patio Daddy-o" by Jeanne Jones at <em>I, Ruby: Vol. 1</em> (Photo by Hung Ngo)
“Patio Daddy-o” by Jeanne Jones at I, Ruby: Vol. 1 (Photo by Hung Ngo)

Other eyecatchers in the exhibit include Anthony Akinbola’s Super Eagle (Oshe Ba Ba), which features a multitude of green durags stretched over a board, and Jeanne Jones’ own work entitled Patio Daddy-o. This piece features a number of smaller individual paintings of flowers and organic shapes made out of a multitude of materials, combined on one canvas in a collage-like manner and covered with a clear acrylic case.

There are Panther & Arrows and Lady Butterfly and Stars, two black and white tapestry banners by Christopher Martin, which hang majestically in the front room of the exhibition. They represent Martin’s skillfulness with tapestry and tattoo, as well as the artist’s exploration of the African diaspora and indigenous history. Works from Tamara Santibañez,Meghan Rutz, Britny Wainwright and Sophia van Wyk are also featured.

"Nephelokokkygia" from "El Capitain: The Cloud Captain" by Sophia van Wyk at <em>I, Ruby: Vol. 1 </em>(Photo by Hung Ngo)
“Nephelokokkygia” from “El Capitain: The Cloud Captain” by Sophia van Wyk at I, Ruby: Vol. 1 (Photo by Hung Ngo)

The success of “I, Ruby” and Ruby Projects highlights the unique wealth of opportunity that Houston has to offer rising artists.

“From an artist’s perspective, we have lots of space, and we have lots of programs that are actually very well funded,” Ebel tells PaperCity. “It’s just rare to have so many, open opportunities in cities that are of equal size.”

She also notes Houston’s special draw for collectors.

“I think Houston does a really good job at showing local work,” Ebel says. “We have a lot of really great collectors here as well that will lease out their artwork to bigger institutions, which kind of creates these cool pathways for our artists to do the same.” 

Whether for prospective collectors or contemporary art enthusiasts, “I, Ruby: Vol. 1” offers a look into the budding potential of Houston’s art scene and the work of a multitude of truly diverse talented artists. 

“I, Ruby: Vol. 1” is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 PM at The Silos Studio  suite 112 at Sawyer Yards until July 30.  Pieces still available after the show can also be purchased directly by contacting Megan. This Thursday, July 20 at 5 pm, Ruby Projects will host an open gallery and conversation in collaboration with Open MFA, an artist-run critique and community group. For more information, visit www.rubyprojects.xyz or follow @rbyprjcts.

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